Growing a Thicker Skin: Art Therapy for Boundaries

By December 5, 2022July 31st, 2023Creativity Corner
Art Therapy for Boundaries

Art as Medicine

As the inspiring author Shaun McNiff explores in his work, art has the potential to create energetic medicine

Within our own psyches, we can find, dream up, and fashion antidotes for what has stung us. No matter what the poison, we are capable of finding a personal, home-made cure, that starts in our imaginations and then comes into “the real world”, where we need the cure.

Art Therapy for Boundaries: Create A Skin for Your Soul

Today we’re going to play with how to create an energetic medicinal for the topic of “holding”, which relates to our struggles with boundaries. This technique is offered in answer to the question, “How we can have a strong, resilient identity in the world?” Through better boundaries!

The goal of any human being is to be our true Core Essence in this world. That means expressing the beautiful specificities of who we are, sharing our love with others, and having transformational experiences in this physical world.

To be able to do this, we need to have a strong enough “container” for our Core Essence. Container is just what it sounds like, a place for our Core Essence to be. A good container keeps wanted stuff in and keeps unwanted stuff out. Our Core Essence ideally has something to hold and protect it – an energetic boundary. 

It’s Never Too Late to Have a Happy Childhood

In best case scenarios, babies are given time to develop their psychological skin in part through being held, which gives the somatic experience of being contained in a safe way.

“Held in a safe way” means receiving attuned warmth, comfort, nurturing and togetherness, but not being intruded upon or used by another. It also means being appropriately protected from threats to our being.

Appropriate holding is an essential experience that many of us did not quite have, and our core wounding will match what we experienced as babies. Perhaps we were not nourished and held enough, or perhaps we were intruded upon and hurt (and often it’s both).

The Art Therapy Medicinal To Help Hold Your Core Essence

The Art Cure for holding/boundaries trouble is to draw Core Essence being held within a larger, positive container, so that we are discretely contained in big, beautiful, loving, safe, soothing energies.


  • Colored Pencils or Markers
  • Paper of any size 

Three Steps to a Cure: Draw Your Energy Being Held

  1. Draw a large oval shape that fills up most of your paper. This large oval is your personal bubble, your auric egg, your kinesphere, or your human bioenergetic field – however you like to think of it. It maps to the space immediately around you, within a couple of feet in any direction of your physical body.
  2. Draw a smaller sketch of your physical body, fully inside the oval. Pay attention to how you feel while you’re doing this, and make sure that the size relationship between the smaller body and the larger egg feels generally right to you. Allow yourself to change or redraw your egg until you feel satisfied and safe when you look at it.
  3. Color the larger oval shape in with nice colors and patterns, only good things. Allow yourself to free-draw, using qualities, shapes and expressive lines that feel soothing and nice to you. 
  4. Spend some time defining the shell of the egg itself. What colors are there? What kind of materials does the shell boundary want to be made of? Is it thin and gauzy, or perhaps thick and gold-plated? You can make it be however feels right for today.
  5. Finally, if you want to, identify a few things that belong outside of your egg shell. For example, you might write things down like “other people’s judgements of who I am” or “work stress” – anything that you would like to decide does not belong inside your personal being at this time.  

You may experience first that you don’t like how it looks – the eggshell is too thin, too dark & heavy, lopsided or the wrong shape. If you sense that, fantastic! 

That dissatisfaction is your psyche telling you something about what happened to you, and I promise, whatever it is, it’s common enough. The picture of what was wrong is also the seed of what the solution is, so use the wonky egg you drew first as a reference to make a second, better egg that shows what you actually want and need to feel good. 

The process of caring and investigating in this way is important in and of itself. This way you say, Hi soul, I know you needed to be held and contained in a loving way, and I can do that now. 

May it be healing & helpful.

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