Therapy Through Digital – Putting It All Out There for You

Note from Steph: Art journaling is exploding in both the paper and digital format. I have always been curious about the science and real therapy uses behind it. I have been asking (begging) my real life friend, Cristi to share with us some of the processes she uses in counseling sessions with her clients in the form of art journaling challenges. I am really excited that she is here to help us all get started on the process of putting our digital techniques to use as a method of self-discovery. She is amazing and our readers are too, so I’m really excited for all of you to get to know her; and her to get to know you as well.


My name is Cristi Dame and I am a photographer and licensed professional counselor who specializes in utilizing art and play to promote inner growth and healing with those I work with.

In my experience, I found that ONE single art therapy session could master what ten talk therapy sessions could. It was as though the two parts of the brain became in sync to uncover what was really going on. Art journaling (or visual journaling for those of you afraid of the “art” word) is not only a form of journaling your inner thoughts and feelings through images but it reveals inner truths that you may have never even know you had. It’s powerful.

So, when Steph asked if I would talk a little about my work with art journaling I thought no problem. This is something I feel comfortable in and am such a strong advocate of it….



I remembered one thing…

This is a digital scrapbooking site!!

(Insert dramatic music and me screaming with my hands on face like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone)


That is an area that I don’t have any experience in whatsoever. Oh boy- how do I incorperate my art journaling with the digital world if I don’t even know how? What if it is not good. What if you guys all laugh at my sad attempt to create something in photoshop.

You see, I feel most comfortable covered in paint and gesso.

and dare I say printed photos? Yikes!

But it hit me.

This feeling of self-doubt and uncertainty is too often how people feel when they hear the words art journal. “Oh but I am not an artist,” they often say or “I am not creative.”

Oh but they are. They just don’t know it yet.

So, let’s make a deal if I am willing to be brave and attempt this digital scrapbooking world- will you be willing to attempt to try an art journaling page with me? Fair enough.

First rule: NO JUDGEMENT ALLOWED. No pretty- no ugly. It is what it is. Art journaling is not about the final product- it is about what you learn through the process.

So here we go.

1. First, find a personal space and organize it with your supplies. For many of you- it may just be your computer. (for those of you-insert computer in this photo below)

2. Next, get in “The Zone.” Find 20 minutes where you will be alone and uninterrupted. For me, it is during my son’s lovely nap. Set the mood by having some favorite treats and music close by.

3. Now close your eyes (well after you read this of course) and take a deep breath and just be still for at least 30 seconds just focusing on your breath.

4. Set your intention. Let’s do an art page about gratitude. So, in your mind or writing down on paper- make a list of things or people you are grateful for. Set the intention that this page will be for exploring your inner gratitude.

5. Then, without thinking too much, just begin to choose colors and images that move you. No worries about whether they match or if they make sense together- just grab them and begin to play.

Below is my first ever attempt to digitally art journal. I just thought there was no way that I could only do this process digitally- so I printed this on some canvas paper that I had envisioned painting and adding additional elements to create the final product. Sadly, it never made it to that phase and remained just like this.

So, I decided to attempt again. But this time with the intention on just going ALL digital. I didn’t go searching for anything- I just let them find me. This time I feel like I went deeper and uncovered the inner truths I had about gratitude.

It was freeing.

I overcame the fear. I didn’t judge. I just enjoyed the process. In this piece- I have written in secret areas several things I was grateful for at that moment. And the words that came to me at the very end- was “abundance.”

This is what art journaling is all about. You willing to give it a try?


From Steph: I decided to take Cristi’s challenge. As many of you know, I have wanted to try Art Journaling or Visual Journaling for a very long time. I have always been scared of it though. Even jumping in, I was scared (more like feeling panic inside). I followed Cristi’s steps, digitally of course, and this is what I came up with:

As you may know, this is completely different from my normal digital layouts, which are very clean and linear, with lots of paper layers. I just went with what I felt like doing, typed what first came to my mind and had a lot of fun with layers and layers of brushes! I really enjoyed it and cannot wait to do it again! It was exciting to me that creating something with digital brushes, paint, and goodies I don’t normally use felt so natural and authentic.

Are you ready to take Cristi’s challenge? If you do, share a link in the comments to your art journal page and how this was different for you than a regular digital layout by midnight ET 1/26/2013. We will randomly select one winner that will win $10 in product from TWO contributors to The Digi Files this month (winner can choose which designers they would like products from). I can’t wait to see what you create! Remember – there are NO RULES!

PS. Congratulations to yesterday’s reader who has won $10 to Jennifer Labre’s store: Stacey.