Practitioner Profile: Donna Basich
Donna Basich utilizes Expressive Arts Therapy along with flower essence therapy in her work with children and their families, to help enable them to realize the beauty within themselves and reach their full potential. She believes that nurturing their spirits through painting, drawing, sculpture, music or story will facilitate their growth. Donna focuses on the nurturing of the soul: "Wellness means living in beauty, as our lives are meant to be. The arts create the atmosphere and environment for that to occur. The arts are revealing of the unconscious, stimulating awareness of what is present, and help all involved to move to the truth of that. Furthermore, the creativity of the flower essences brings what's within a person into its true 'life essence.’
"My work is transformative more than palliative. In other words, I believe that anyone can move to a further stage of unfoldment and expression. But at the same time, that can't be forced; there aren't any external measures that can be used except those that reach the internal freedom of each individual. At the core of it is an acceptance to love the person for who they are and how they came to be, and then to trust and have faith that they can unfold and become even more of who they are."
Donna works intuitively with each individual and learns from them how to "speak to their soul." When she first meets with a client she does not have a particular program of treatment in mind, but rather tries to "tap into" what is going on and get a sense of what is needed. "I don't have a set program—I don't know what I will do until I meet the person who stands in front of me—it has to unfold through listening and paying attention. Each child will blossom in his or her own way."
Often times, she begins a session by talking with a new client, but sometimes she can sense that conversation won't be effective for them. In such cases, she may offer them drawing materials. If she senses hesitancy on the part of a child, she will visit with the parent for a few minutes. Then, she will offer different art modalities such as crayons, paints, clay or different types of drawing materials. Depending on the individual, she may choose to offer a different art form, such as music or movement. She learns developmental and emotional information from the client's choices. This process facilitates the establishment of trust and therefore communication between Donna and her young clients. Often that is the intention of the first meeting: to establish the trust that is the foundation for continuing the work together.
When a child is drawing, Donna will often, but not always, find herself drawing as well. At times, it's an excellent way to divert attention from a child not wanting it at the moment. She will draw on a different piece of paper and try to draw with thoughts of the child sitting near her to tap into the child's energy. It's often amazing to her to find that what comes into her mind, that she then draws while focusing on the child, is indeed a reflection of the child's current situation or concerns. She will then initiate conversation exploring the child's thoughts and emotions. Donna has learned to trust her intuition and follow up accordingly with her clients.
Donna's therapeutic work with painting allows each client to choose brushes and colors and express themselves freely on paper. Donna watches carefully the body language of a client during their painting experiences. She notes their breathing and other bodily gestures, such as whether they're hunched over, frowning, sighing, frustrated, hesitant, and so forth. From there she develops a "picture," an idea of where the soul is blocked and what needs to happen through the use of flower essences, counseling and other approaches to free these blockages. She provides therapeutic paints from nature and often coordinates the colors of the essence flowers with the paint. Sometimes she'll add essential oils to the therapeutic paints as well. Certain sessions involve guided art therapy—colors may be chosen that are specific to the needs of a particular client, or story-telling and images may be given that then lead the client into artistic expression.
Flower essences are introduced into all of Donna's work with clients for additional support. Her own connection to nature is strong, she knows how healing it is, and therefore, she especially values flower essence therapy. Donna feels the flower essences are compatible with her therapeutic work because they support the very soul movements she is trying to foster. "The Soul of Nature is the maternal support given to us so that our own interior space of soul can open. Our soul harmonizes with the Soul of Nature. We help the soul to speak its own words with and through flowers. And, the painting is our own creation of a soul flower that is coming to blossom with its special colors and unique movements."
Donna gives one essence at a time to the children she works with, to be used at home. She often initially uses Mimulus with children who are fearful or shy; it helps them move forward with confidence. In general though, Mimulus seems to provide an "opening" for them to know their real concerns or issues. She then selects subsequent essences, one at a time, so that she can focus with the child on the prevailing issue. She describes it as a step-by-step process of "unlayering." Red Chestnut is another essence that works well for some of the children she works with. It is helpful for those who appear to have an obsession or compulsion to hang onto childhood; some of them seem to want to stay there. Donna is able to assure them and also explains how flower essences will be helpful in their work together.
Holly is a key flower essence that Donna relies upon in early stages of therapeutic work. Holly opens the heart to expand with compassion and addresses many core issues of anger and rage. It works on emotional constriction, helping one to trust the loving impulses of others, as well as the love one has to express and share.
Flower essences have proven to be remarkably powerful for Donna's clients. Parents will often comment that they notice a difference in their children. Flower essences are subtle, Donna tells them, and asks that they pay attention, to be aware and conscious; that's part of the therapeutic process as well. If someone comes to Donna with a physical ailment and wants a "quick fix," she helps and encourages them to realize that healing is not just healing physically but working towards inner peace, whether one is actually physically well or not. This means living life as it's meant to be, regardless of one's physical condition.
Donna Basich, Ph.D., is a Certified Expressive Therapist (C.E.T.), Flower
Donna can be contacted at 530-346-6464 or you can email her at DonnaBasich@aol.com
P.O. Box 459, Nevada City, CA 95959
800-736-9222 (US & Canada)
tel: 530-265-9163 fax: 530-265-0584
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