What mask are you wearing?

As Halloween approaches I could not help but think about the question asked to many kids and even adults going to costume parties, “What are you going to be?” To me this holiday allows us to be someone or something else other than our everyday selves. Halloween can bring out the child in us to be something different. It can bring out the artist in us to play around with face paint and expression.
As I thought about this holiday I so much enjoy, I began to think about the idea of mask making in art therapy, a technique I often utilize with my clients. Mask making can be used with every age group just as you see children to adults dress up for Halloween. The concept of masks has been around for many ages now. “Masks are worn for performance, entertainment, disguise, concealment, or protection. They have been around since ancient times and have been used in ceremony, storytelling, and dramatic enactment. Making a mask invites you to explore the persona you reveal or conceal from the world.” (Malchiodi,2010)
Not only does mask making work for any age group, it also can work with any client. The directive for this involves asking someone to create a mask. This can be done creatively in many ways including paper cut outs, paper machete, and drawings to name a few. (Below are links not only to further give information on this topic of mask making but also links to show you how to create one.) The outside of the mask the client is asked to create indicates how they portray themselves to the world or how they feel on the outside. The interior of the mask they are asked to create is how they feel internally or what they conceal from the world. This art therapy directive allows the client to potentially explore many different aspects of themselves such as persona, self awareness, body image, trauma, self-talk, self worth, and congruence or incongruence of the self.
If you are a therapist who feels your clients can benefit from this directive or any art therapy directives, please refer them to a registered art therapist as this is a processing directive and I would encourage an art therapist work on this with clients. I encourage everyone reading this to think about your inner and exterior self and ask yourself “Do I wear any masks?” and “Who am I going to be?”
Here are some links to check out:
Unmasking Trauma
Outside/Inside Masks
Expressive Mask Making for Teens
Cool Art Therapy Interventions: Mask Making
Mask Making Ideas

Create, educate, inspire.
Katrina Kurtz, MA., LCPC, ATR

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