Frame Job: Art Therapy for Anger

By October 12, 2022July 31st, 2023Creativity Corner
art therapy for anger

Anger Misunderstood

Anger is frequently considered to be a bad thing. I disagree completely.

Anger can be bad in cases where it is expressed poorly, in its most raw and unprocessed form. When anger explodes suddenly and violently, it can be as savage as a volcano, laying waste to those around us. 

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Volcanic anger is only violent because we have suppressed it for so long that it has to explode dramatically to get recognized. Anger, especially women’s anger, often has to yell to be heard.

Anger is a Good Thing

At its core, anger is a positive life energy. It has a function, like all things in nature. Anger’s function is to define boundaries and say no to things that aren’t good for us. 

When something approaches us that isn’t good for us, the body generates a physiological response of anger to give us the energy to fight off the intrusion or create space between us and the bad thing.

In its simplest form, anger is simply a message from our physiology that says, “No thank you, that is not good for me.” 

Women’s Anger

How many of us, especially women, have struggles accepting the presence of anger within us?  Do we even know when we’re angry? Do we know why we’re angry? Is it ok, in our own eyes, to be angry? Or do we talk ourselves out of our anger? 

The following Art Therapy exercise is for helping those of us who want to get in touch with our anger but may need to do it in a safe and titrated way. I offer it as a way to experiment with befriending our own potency.  

May it be helpful!

Anger Frame by Frame


Five pieces of paper, regular-sized paper or larger, and some pens or colored pencils

The Process

Step One: Create 5 Frames on 5 Separate Pieces of Paper

On each of your five papers, you will draw a single frame (sort of like a drawing of a picture frame, you make these by drawing a smaller rectangle inside a slightly larger rectangle). Leave white space in the middle of those frames for now. 

Using three sizes (small, medium, and large) of frames, you will draw two small frames, two medium frames, and one big frame. 

Start with making your two small frames (each on a separate piece of paper). These are small, post-it-sized frames. 

On another two pieces of paper, draw two medium-sized frames, each around the size of a large postcard. 

On the final piece of paper, make only one frame that is almost as large as the paper itself.

At the end of this step of the process, you have five total papers, with each paper having a frame drawn on it. Two papers have small frames, two have medium frames, and the last one has a big frame. 

Lay them out in this order: 

  1. Small frame
  2. Medium frame
  3. Large frame
  4. Medium frame
  5. Small frame

Step Two: Draw Your Anger in 5 Frames

Begin by setting the intention to work with your sacred anger energy. 

If you happen to be feeling angry about something, use that. If you are feeling peaceful, you can still do the exercise just by setting the intention that you will make positive, loving contact with your anger to help you get to know it.

Starting with one of the small frames, express the feeling of your anger energy in any color and line, allowing yourself to scribble freely, but only inside of the small post-it-sized frame you drew. When you’ve expressed as much as you care to inside that small post-it-sized frame, set it aside and move on to your first medium-sized frame. 

Inside the medium-sized frame, again express yourself in any way you feel by scribbling with color and line (or whatever feels right), but keeping to the medium-sized frame’s limits. 

Now do the largest frame, drawing as much as you care inside that largest frame, really getting as much anger energy expressed there as you can. 

Now move back down to the other medium-sized frame as you begin to modulate and make the anger smaller again. 

End with the smallest frame, allowing your anger to be contained and expressed inside a small space again. 

Journal: What was that like for you? What did you experience? What was it like to make it bigger and then smaller again? 

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