As an art therapist, I make a habit of engaging in a practice called empathy art or response art. Empathy, of course, is the idea of sharing the feeling of another -- to feel with, or to feel alongside someone else. Empathy art (which can be called "response art" interchangeably) is defined by art therapist Joanne Kielo as "post-session artwork created by the art therapist to develop empathic capacity with a client, responding silently by rendering feelings into form." This sort of practice is not only useful for therapist-client relationships, but it can also be very helpful with any sort of caregiving relationship, such as parents and children.
When an art therapist shares their response art with a client, it can deepen the relationship in that the client can "feel seen" and witnessed in a concrete way. Many times, response art can be made in the "handwriting" of the client, so to speak. Meaning, it is often done in the style and/or with the symbols the client has brought into their own art process in therapy.
The practice of creating empathy art can also be healing for the art therapist, and regarded as a form of self-care. Art therapist Bruce Moon supports the idea that empathy art helps the therapist to clarify feelings, release affect, and allows a therapist to metaphorically exhale images s/he may have "inhaled" in during a therapy session.
Another function of empathy art is that it can be gifted to a client when it is time to end the therapeutic relationship. In this way, the art serves as a beautiful transitional object and a container for the symbol of the therapist's presence and support.
If you are a care provider, you may choose to make art about your relationship to a patient or client of yours. If you are a parent, perhaps you can make empathy art about or for your child/ren. The idea of self-care for moms is one of great interest to me as both a therapist and as a mom. I see firsthand how sharing visual responses with a client or a child can deepen connection in profound and transformative ways. How can you bring the practice of empathy art into your life?