Interactive Drawing Therapy

Context - In life and work

“Without context, a piece of information is just a dot. It floats in your brain with a lot of other dots and doesn’t mean a damn thing. Knowledge is information in context… Connecting the dots.” Michael Ventura

Context. Context is a very powerful thing. Much more than a catch phrase for politicians caught out with a gaff (“I may have said that but you’re taking it completely out of context”). It can mean the difference between a message and meaning, a pretence and an inner truth, and even one’s definition of right and wrong.

The modern world is a fluid thing, with technology changing faster than many of us can fathom, globalisation changing the very make up of our societies, political upheaval leading to changes in the framework within which society works. The modern age is synonymous with rapid and constant change. This means not only that the context in which we live our lives is changing but that which we compare ourselves to and judge ourselves by is changing also.

In terms of mental health it can mean the difference between knowing what we have done and why we did it. It is important to understand the circumstances in which we exist and operate.

In IDT we use contextualising as a powerful tool. The other day a colleague of mine told me a story; they were working with a woman, who drew a large smiling face that took up an entire A3 page. Taken at face value (excuse the pun) it could have looked as if things were good and that she was happy. However, when asked to zoom out and show the figure’s entire body and its surroundings, the woman drew three large, very steep mountains, each isolated from one another. Atop each of these she drew a solitary woman, and then burst in to tears. After a pause, when asked about the drawing, she wrote “the loneliness of strong women”.

This is a powerful example where a relatively simple contextualising cue helped the client to move from presenting-level work to underlying issues and what lay behind the smiling face. To see what is happening one need only look at the specifics, but to understand it we need context.

IDT Update
This year we have an exciting schedule of our established and fully developed courses, as well as in-house courses available to those who wish to do IDT training away from scheduled times or locations, or just to make the most of the group savings.  We are also currently undergoing the development of two new websites which will have hugely extended functionality, including better monthly email flyers, and a blog with which we can update you on IDT information as well as provide advice, a more advanced FAQ section, and a registry for IDT graduates who wish to have their contact details listed. We will be developing the supervision and peer support networks. We are also looking for keen IDT’ers who may be interested in conducting research into IDT, so if you’re interested then please contact us at


In order to get a handle on IDT quickly and efficiently, do you suggest an advanced course OR professional development?
It is up to each applicant to assess their readiness and suitability for IDT training. IDT training contains both didactic and experiential components and you will regularly be pairing up to practice (in both client and counsellor roles) the topic at hand. When in the client role you will be doing real ‘work’, so we encourage all IDT trainees to engage in extra therapy and/or supervision sessions to assist you prepare and process matters that the course might bring up. Although IDT courses are carefully structured and designed to maximise your learning in a safe B118and supportive way, there is always the possibility that a participant is not ready for experiential training that might touch on traumatic matters, or access disturbing unconscious material. Please read the two 2006 articles by Russell Withers on IDT (see website) and discuss your concerns with your counsellor and supervisor before enrolling if you suspect you might have difficulties. In class, we rely on you to take care of your own safety by simply saying “pass” or “No thanks” if the class is having a sharing round or you are invited to participate in a role play. The IDT Unit One contains effective tools for helping a client if they become overwhelmed, and we will be teaching these as part of the curriculum. IDT training is essentially educational, and does not offer opportunity for individuals who are currently looking for sustained therapeutic support. Because the teacher has to look after the whole class and move ahead with the programme, they usually do not have the time to give ongoing personal attention to distressed class members. Please speak to the teacher in the breaks if you are finding the course too much at this time.
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