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Emotions Color Wheel

Description: This activity is good to break the ice with any client. It is also
an easy check-in to find out how the client is feeling and the issues
he/she is dealing with at this time in his/her life. After creating a pie chart
with 8 sections, the client gets to choose 8 emotions and then color in the
pie pieces.
Materials: Colored Pencils or Markers and a White Piece of Paper.
First Start with a piece of white paper and draw a circle filling the page.
Second Draw a line straight down the center of the circle, then draw a
line down the center, criss-crossing the first line. Follow this by halving the
other pies and again until you have 8 pies.

Third Ask the client, What are 8 emotions that you would like to put in
each pie on the wheel? Then, as the client mentions the emotions place
the word above the pie (on the outside). (The client may need some
assistance with coming up with 8 emotions. Give assistance but be careful
to not choose for the client.)

Fourth Ask the client to now fill in each pie with a corresponding color or
picture that matches his/her idea of what the emotion means to him/her.

Fifth When the client is finished coloring have him/her explain what had
him/her choose the color or explain what the picture means
Sixth Ask the client to share where in his/her life he/she is experiencing
that emotion/feeling. Dialogue about it as the client feels comfortable.

Outcome: This exercise is designed to have your client open up and feel
more comfortable expressing his/her emotions/feelings, and establishing
rapport/trust with you!
Questions to Ask Client:
1) Could you tell me about your Emotions Color Wheel?
2) What had you choose that color/design for that emotion?
3) Where else in your life do you experience that emotion/feeling?
Note: Use affirmative statements with the client. Always acknowledge the client's positive
qualities and work with the client to notice their own ability to create beauty/something of

Boundary Drawings
Often, people do not understand how boundaries work. This directive
helps to define, highlight, and then create the establishment of healthy
boundaries/limits. If there were ever an art therapy directive that makes
a HUGE difference, this directive would be IT!
Knowing when to say yes and how to say no can often be a challenge for people. If a client
grew up in an abusive (physical, emotional, sexual, neglect, etc.) environment, that person may
have been taught that it is not OK to say no. The person may have been taught that their body
is not their own. In this directive you will do a simple exercise with the client to begin to explore
the importance of healthy boundaries identifying what they look like, how they work, and
beginning to implement them in their lives.

White paper, Colored Pencils or Magic Markers or Crayons


Begin the session with defining what boundaries are.

There are boundaries/limitations used in every aspect of life, including but not limited to:
There are three types of boundaries (draw out an example of each of these boundaries
There are overly RIGID boundaries (This person has shut herself off to the world
around her/him, saying "NO" to the bad things, but also saying "NO" to the good things
in life. This person feels isolated and lonely, at the expense of feeling in control.)


There are overly WEAK boundaries (This is where the person cannot say "NO" to
anyone. Instead they say "YES" so often that they begin to feel overwhelmed, out of
control and unhappy about their lives. They are afraid of saying "NO" because they don't

want to hurt anyone's feelings, or they don't want to make anyone made, or they just
don't think they have a right to say what they will do with their lives and what they won't.)

There are HEALTHY boundaries. (This is where the person says "YES" to the things that
make her feel GOOD about herself, and "NO" to the things that make her feel BAD about
herself - regardless if it makes others happy or not!)


Explore what the client feels her boundaries look like. Usually it will be a combination of overly
Rigid and overly Weak boundaries.


Ask the client to draw out what her boundaries look like right now.


Discuss the drawing and have her identify what each color/symbol means to her.


Have the client do a second drawing. This one will be what the client would like her boundaries
to look like.


Discuss what it will take to get to this place and specific actions that the client can take to
obtain the confidence to establish these boundaries in her life.

Additional Procedure
1) When the client is ready, ask the client how the boundary-setting is going. Usually, there will
be struggles. At this point, have the client choose a color and draw out a circle, first,
representing herself, and then other circles that represent others in her life. Have her show in
the drawing how much she feels each one/thing is in her space.

2) Ask the client to make another drawing showing what it would look like if these things were
no longer in her space and she was able to have healthy boundaries with each of the areas
indicated in Step 1.

3) Make sure to emphasize the possibility that through the use of healthy boundaries the client
can have her life look as complicated or simple as she wants. Discuss what this would take.

Reflection/Processing Questions:

Tell me about your drawing. What do you notice when you look at it?
What is holding you back from creating the boundaries you want in your life?
What will it take to be able to set healthy boundaries?
How do you feel about practicing saying no with me? Lets practice.
How can you let go of wanting to please others or avoid their anger?
What areas of your life are within your control where you can use boundaries?
How was this process for you?


People often struggle with the concept. It will be important to take it slowly and allow the
person to take it at her own pace. She may need to think about it before taking action on it. She
will more than likely want to come back to talk to you about how it went (i.e., saying no to
abusive or intrusive relationship, etc.) and could get discouraged with initial results. Keep using
encouragements and focus on strengths.


Getting down the details of how this works is important. Letting the client know that she has
the right to say when/if someone touches her may be the focus. It may also be important to
distinguish People Pleasing and how to work on providing self with love rather than avoiding
losing it from others. Each person will have their own spin on how boundaries will look for
him/her. It will be important to allow the client to talk freely about how this process is going.


It may be necessary to continue to reinforce this concept multiple times. Often, this can be
such a foreign concept to people that they only grasp bits and pieces of the full importance of
how boundaries work. Be prepared to go through the drawings multiple times. You may give the
drawings to the client to take home so that she can look at them and remind herself of what
healthy boundaries look like.


People often think there is a wrong way and a right way to create boundaries. It will also be
important to emphasize to the client that each person is different and however she feels her

boundaries need to be is OK. She gets to determine when she wants to say no and when she
is ready to say yes. Being in touch with how she feels in any moment will also be important
and many clients have dissociated themselves from their feelings because of the pain
associated with them. You may have to do some work to help them get back in touch with how
they feel (i.e., feelings versus emotions) so that they can begin to see feelings as healthy and
also important indicators to listen to.


Description: People often do not realize that they put on masks when
interacting with others. We wear masks to get through stressful times. We
put on masks when we are with our children being loving and nurturing, at
work being professional, and with strangers to keep them from seeing too
much (to name a few). There are thousands of masks we wear, sometimes all
within one day. This directive is designed to help clients begin to become
aware of these masks so that they can choose what masks to wear. They will
also become more aware of what is really going on behind the masks in order
to learn how to deal with them in healthy ways.
Materials: There are a multitude of ways clients can make masks. The
simple way is to use regular paper and markers or colored pencils. You can
also have the client make a mask out of paper Mache, or buy a mask at
Hobby Lobby and have the client decorate it.

First Explain the nature of masks to the client. Have the client identify
some of the masks she wears and why.
Second Draw an oval shape on a piece of paper, taking up the whole
sheet. Put eyes, nose and mouth in a general shape on the paper, inside the
oval. Put the word Outside at the bottom of the sheet to identify that this
drawing will be the mask that the client shows to others.

Third Ask the client to draw what comes to mind when she is showing
others a (general) mask.

Fourth After the client finishes the drawing for the Outside mask, take a
second piece of paper and draw the oval, eyes, nose and mouth in the same
way you drew the first mask features. At the bottom of the paper write
Inside to identify that this drawing will be what is really going on inside the
person, how she is feeling inside. Ask the client to decorate it however she
would like.

Fifth When the client is done drawing both the Outside and Inside faces,
ask her to tell you about the drawings. Have a discussion about what she
sees in her drawings. Write down what the client says about each image they
created and color they chose. (Ask permission before you write or mark on
the picture, and then I suggest you do it in pencil.) Make an arrow and then
write down each meaning indicated by the client. This will enter in words
(which will activate the left side of the brain) and the images (which has
already activated the right side of the brain).
It will also give you a clear guide to the image later when you go over these
images at the end of the time with the client, for the review of the artwork
created and therapy completed.

Follow-up Questions:

Tell me about the drawings you created. How did it go?

2) How are the drawings different? How are they the same?
3) What do the colors mean to you?
4) What did she see about herself in the overall process?
Objective for this Directive:
1) Allowing the client to have a safe space to begin to get in touch with her
feelings is imperative. Each client has different ways of looking at this
directive. Some will catch on quickly and be able to express how they are
feeling. Others will need more guidance. It is always important to make sure
to emphasize to the client that this is a safe space where the client can
express herself and experience acceptance in the process. Also, by creating
a safe space the client is beginning to learn who may be a safe person to
open up to and who is not, trusting herself to know the difference.

2) Increasing the clients self-awareness and self-acceptance. By

encouraging that the client is in a safe space the client is also receiving the
message that it is OK to feel what she is feeling, and that it is acceptable.
This promotes self-acceptance in general and can increase the clients
willingness to deal with negative emotions, especially when her confidence
increases through the use of healthy ways to express and communicate
those emotions that may be more uncomfortable.
3) Identifying the difference between what the client communicates with others
versus what she is actually feeling can stimulate conversations for healthy
communication and increase the clients sense of self-control. This
exercise naturally opens conversation that highlights healthy
boundaries and how they work. It is not always appropriate to share
everything one is feeling with others. Conversely, it is not always healthy to
keep everything inside, not sharing anything. Finding that balance is key to
being mentally healthy. It is important for the client to learn when it is
appropriate to share and when it is not.
NOTE: This mask directive can be applied to any masks you want to create with your client.
Have fun with it and allow the client to explore the metaphors in masks. You can add sequence,
feathers, beads, and anything else the client would like to utilize. You can pick up basic white
masks at Hobby Lobby, which make great canvases to make some amazing masks. There are a
myriad of ways to create masks. Explore and have fun with it!