Words

  • Artnr: Words

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Why words? How simple. A set of cards each with a single word-a word that relates to life with all its struggles and joys.
A single word can transport our thoughts to a very different place.

Words is a set of 100 cards each elegantly designed but starkly minimalist in order to capture the beauty and transcendence of words that resonate with the human spirit. This card set grew out of discussions with counsellors who work daily with grief and loss. But Words does not only speak to times of sadness and depression. There are possibilities here for rediscovering hope, joy and meaning as we reflect on the significance that particular words have in our lives.

Published by Innovative Resources 2007. Booklet authors: Linda Espie & Russell Deal, Designer: Brad Welsh. 100 laminated, full-colour cards, 105 x 105mm, full-colour tin. 48-page booklet.

In search of hope

Sam began frantically searching among the Words cards for a particular one that could express her current experience. In tears, she talked with her counsellor about looking for the word ‘hope’. Her counsellor suggested she say out loud, ‘I’m looking for hope.’ Sam repeated this sentence several times with strong emotion.

When asked to notice her body sensations, Sam talked about feeling panic at not being able to find the word ‘hope’. She reflected on her desperate search for hope; hoping for some positive outcomes relating to her current situation. Many fruitful insights emerged as the reflection and conversation about Sam’s experience of hope continued to unfold.

Foreword to the Words booklet

So often in our everyday life, especially when we are overwhelmed by painful moments or stumped by the magnitude of events, a pervasive sense of isolation is accompanied by the cry, ‘I feel lost for words’. Being mute in this way is never about not feeling anything; nor does it reflect an absence of desire to give expression to our experience. Rather, it is often the case that we feel like there is too much on the inside pushing to be on the outside.

Being without words at times when plain speaking is required evokes frustration and aloneness. These moments can arise in our personal experience when we feel young and unsure or fragile and unsteady. Grasping for words to capture the ‘out of reach’ essence of our experience is known to us all. However, such moments routinely characterise the experience of children and the elderly. Regardless of whether we are young or old, emotionally literate or tongue-tied, in a significant transition or stuck—finding just the right words can be such a source of comfort. Here lies the great gift of this imaginative resource. It has the promise to connect us to our ‘out of reach’ experience and to do so in company.

Words emerge in response to our lived experience. When they hit the mark our awareness is heightened, our understanding is broadened and our relationships are deepened. Often the result is that we feel more known to ourselves and others, and can let go our tight grip on the things that trouble us. The Gestalt Therapy approach to working with people, the approach that has informed the development of this resource, simply but profoundly reminds us that our natural tendency is to strive for completion. This often involves completing unfinished business, locating our unique experience in a meaningful context and appreciating that we are embedded in relationships.

I applaud the creativity of this resource. I draw your attention to how intelligently it is embedded in a rich theoretical and practice framework. I encourage you to lean into your own imagination as you strive to find meaningful, comforting and healing words for yourself and the people with whom you work. The vision of Linda Espie and the team at St Luke’s Innovative Resources has produced a thoughtful, creative and profoundly useful resource. I believe Words has the potential to help us all connect to our personal experience.

Dr. Gabriel Phillips Psychologist and psychotherapist, Co-Director, Gestalt Therapy, Australia

The power of words

Arthur Stace is a name that a number of Sydney (Australia) residents would recognise but it is largely unknown to the world outside that city. However, many people may well have heard, or seen, what Arthur became famous for.

From the 1930s up until his death in 1967 Arthur walked the streets of Sydney writing one word on footpaths in chalk in his flowing copperplate style at least 500,000 times. That single word was ‘Eternity’ and Arthur (or ‘Mr Eternity’ as he became known) was on a personal mission to remind all of Sydney what they faced after death.

Many, perhaps most, would regard Arthur’s mission in life as quaint or quixotic, but did he make thousands, perhaps millions, think? Quite likely.

A single word that jumps out at the reader from a pavement or a page can indeed be life-changing. If this were not so then the advertising industry would not be spending millions of dollars each day in its quest to help businesses construct the perfect badging for their products.

What’s in a name? What’s in a word? Possibly everything.

Single, unadorned, unadulterated words pack a punch. They have a power and a resonance often forgotten by human service professionals who in their professional socialisation are all too often taught that ‘academic’ or ‘professional’ writing has to be flowery. Why only use one word when a hundred will do?

The Words cards can be used for:

• counselling • journal writing • writing poetry or songs storytelling • discussion in a group setting • individuals reflecting alone • a range of creative modalities, for example, drawing, painting, and play