It's all right there on paper

Therapist to lead self-growth collage workshop

Therapist to lead self-growth collage workshop

November 06, 2009|By CHRIS COPLEY

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - So you're all grown up. You're juggling children, spouse, work and social obligations. You're fulfilling your responsibilities.

But the holidays are coming, and you're worried about keeping it all together.

Karen Stefano has a suggestion: Play. Dance. Make art. Be like a child.

"It reconnects you to your childlike innocence. It takes you back," she said.

Stefano, a therapist in Charles Town, W.Va., leads workshops designed to help participants grow through meditation, dance and the creation of art. She has led workshops in New Mexico, New York and Japan.

This weekend, she'll teach her first workshop in West Virginia. There are a few seats open for her course tonight and Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Shepherdstown Train Station in Shepherdstown.


Stefano uses an art-therapy approach developed by Edith Wallace, a psychotherapist who studied with Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, an early advocate of art therapy.

Stefano said she leads participants in making art as a child would. To emphasize the point, she calls her workshops "playshops."

"Participants select papers, then tear them and paste them to a board. Without planning. Put your thought process on hold," she said.

Tissue paper is thin and brightly colored. Layers of paper can be built up, but deeper layers show through upper layers to produce new colors and interesting patterns.

Stefano said the act of working with tissue paper - tearing it, pasting it, layering it - is a very physical experience. If participants make images without planning or managing the process, she said, the resulting work offers a window to their inner thoughts.

"You're not doing it for the sake of creating art. You're doing it to allow the things you're holding inside to come forth," she said. "It's a representation of what you're holding inside your body."

Participants make a series of images during Stefano's courses. They use them as indications of inner questions or struggles, perhaps issues that have been suppressed or denied. For many people, this involves deeply held emotions.

Releasing these deep issues is a freeing experience, Stefano said. People feel invigorated, relieved. They feel more themselves.

"For some people, it's like an incredible gift. It's miraculous," she said. "There was one woman - she basically cried through the whole thing."

If you go ...

WHAT: "The Collage Connection: Create. Transform. Renew," a self-growth workshop led by Karen Stefano

WHEN: 7 to 9:30 tonight and 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7

WHERE: The Shepherdstown Train Station in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

COST: $150 per person; includes all materials

CONTACT: To register, call Stefano at 304-728-6757. For additional information, go to

MORE: Space is limited, but there are a few seats available

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