Alters and Art

person with body painting
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on

Since I have come out of the St. John of God Clinic at Burwood where as part of my treatment I did Art Therapy I have been drawing a lot. I have found it to be a wonderful outlet to express my feelings and emotions. I can put down on paper and draw what I cannot put into words. I am not a good drawer but once I got over that barrier and just allowed myself to freely draw and make use of different mediums of chalk, crayons, pencils and paint, I found I could actually use art to let my alters speak in a way they had not spoken before.

The use of colour could exemplify an alters’ mood. Was it feeling trapped? Did it feel it wasn’t being listened to it by the host? Were the other alters dominating it?images-1

The bizarre thing that happens is when I start drawing I switch alters and draw from that alters perspective and age and t he drawing reflects that. I am a four I draw stick figures and trees with blunt straight brown trunks and round green foilage and a big circle in the sky for a sun with rays coming out of it !!! It’s really bizarre. The alter age I draw most is eight. My husband allows me to stay in the alter while I am drawing and then gets me to explain the drawing to him. Sometimes I get him to write words on the drawing as I can’t write being only eight I tell him. When I switch back to being presnet day Erin I have no recollection of doing the drawing or anything about its content but I feel more relaxed.


We have found that when I feel like cutting it really helps to draw. I switch either into the seventeen-year-old or the Mother alter who are the alters that are responsible for the cutting. I draw pictures that give me relief and express my frustration and feelings towards my sense of self-hatred, shame and guilt that I feel towards my self. Then talking with my partner about those feelings via the picture dissipates the need to cut. We don’t always get to the drawing in time before I have cut but we have averted many cutting episodes this way. 

The other very therapeutic skill I learned at the Clinic was quilting and have continued this. I find it totally absorbing and while I am doing it I am not thinking of anything else so it totally empties my mind and relaxes me. I also get the satisfaction of a completed product and a useful item for the household at the end. Each patch that is completed is a sense of accomplishment and then stitching them is further progress until putting the padding and backing together until it is ready for actual quilting. This is the pleasurable part. Weaving the quilt through the machine, creating patterns to bind the three layers together into one whole until you have a completed quilt. It is immensely satisfying. Each quilt takes me about three weeks to complete and I do a new pattern each time from a beautiful book my daughter bought me. I have made a quilt for each member of the family. I feel like they have a small part of me with them. Comforting.




  1. I am so glad to hear you have found outlets for your feelings besides cutting. I drew abstracts mostly for a time to deal with raw feelings. Your quilt is beautiful.

    • Thanks and good to hear from you. Great to hear from a fellow ‘drawer’. It is a great way to let out those feelings isn’t it? That quilt gave me great satisfaction and went to my grandniece who loves it in Canada so it’s travelled all the way from Australia. Done some kms!!!! All the best Erin

I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin

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