When you think of bridges, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it an image of that famous bright orange Golden Gate suspension bridge in San Francisco? Or the draw bridge on a castle from your favourite childhood Fairytale? Or maybe it’s something as mundane as that toll bridge you pay for each time you go to and from work? For me, it’s expressions like, “It’s best to burn that bridge!” and “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” that come to mind.
Regardless, all of the bridges we know serve a very similar purpose: They get us from point A to point B, helping us to cross over obstacles where we may otherwise not be able to. In Expressive Arts Therapy we talk about bridging as a means to connect. Bridging from one art modality to another, for example, is one of the defining features of E.A.T. that sets it apart from other therapeutic practices.
Quite often with my clients, I like to start off with a writing exercise, allowing the person to stay in their head at the session’s beginning (and let’s face it, most of us are in our heads!) before moving to a more somatic experience. A list, poem, or short story are just a few forms this might take. From there, I will ask the client to chose an image that stands out to them from the words they have written and create a visual representation of this image – this could be something as literal as a sculpture of the flower they just wrote about, to a series of colours splattered across a piece of paper. Later they might embody the flower or the colours, allowing the image to move and seeing where it takes them. Of course, each process takes its own course, and its own set of bridges.
Each time we move from one art form to another, a bridge is created, and each bridge is different from the next. Every time we make a connection from our imaginative creations to our real lives, we are bridging the gap. “I didn’t even know I felt this way” are words quite often spoken in an E.A.T. session. Sometimes, bridges help to get us from one place to another, over an obstacle we didn’t even know was there!