When sophrology and paint by numbers meet
We interviewed Mélanie Butruille, a Sophrologist in France, to talk about her occupation and the integration of painting by numbers in the therapies she offers.
In a world where well-being and health are fundamental, more and more people are turning to sophrology to work on their stress and improve their quality of life.
1/ YOU ARE A SOPHROLOGIST IN FRANCE, WHAT IS YOUR JOB AND WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPLES OF SOPHROLOGY?
Sophrology allows to establish and/or reinforce the balance between emotions, thoughts and the body in order to improve the quality of life (stress management, emotion management, self-confidence, sleep disorders, etc.).
More than a therapy, it is a training method that allows the person to develop abilities that can be used to better manage everyday life. Sophrology also allows to prepare for an anxious event (exam, oral, driving license...). Or to accompany in a medical treatment (treatment of addictions, chemotherapy, surgical intervention...).
Many high-level artists and athletes also use it to manage their stress. It also helps pregnant women during pregnancy and during childbirth.
In addition to its therapeutic virtues, sophrology is an art of living. It can be part of a more global approach, for example, associated with sport, meditation, yoga... If sophrologists mainly use the voice as a support, and thus participate in a modification of the state of consciousness, sophrology is different from hypnosis. Indeed, it is part of a personal and more global approach, which privileges self-realisation and autonomy.
3/ WHAT METHODS DO YOU USE IN SOPHROLOGY?
During an individual session, the exchange with the person is the first step, perhaps the most important, because it allows me to know them, listen to them and understand their needs and expectations. Active listening is therefore the first method.
I then use techniques of breathing, physical relaxation and visualisation.
4/ CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT "ART THERAPY"?
It is a technique that I use during group sessions. During this activity, the participants are freed from all resistance and express themselves freely. This is an activity that allows them to focus on something other than the daily stresses, to take a step back on life and their anxieties, to see things differently and to exchange together in a positive way.
5/ HOW DO YOU USE PAINT BY NUMBERS DURING YOUR WORKSHOPS AND INTERVENTIONS IN NURSING AND SPECIALISED HOMES?
Before or after a sophrology session, I present the paintings as a tool to achieve the same feeling of well-being and relaxation.
Residents of senior facilities often find themselves with a lot of "empty" time, which they spend dwelling on difficult moments, focusing on their pain, which keeps them in a deep sense of discomfort.
6/ WHAT BENEFITS HAVE YOU NOTICED IN YOUR PATIENTS WHEN THEY CREATE THEIR PAINTING?
The activity of painting by numbers leads them to focus, and they can spend hours on their canvas and see a landscape that we imagined in the sophrology session appear before their eyes.
Their feedback is very positive, telling me that they don't think of anything, not even the time that's passing, allowing me a glimpse of a moment in their life.
"I wasn't thinking of anything, just like when I gardened with my father," “the same feeling when I knitted sweaters for my children"
During this time out of time, they are more open, liberated, and tell me about thoughts and feelings they've kept bottled up for a long time.
7/ WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON THEIR LIFE AND FAMILY?
In addition to its therapeutic benefits, sophrology is a way of life. It can be part of a broader approach that includes sports, meditation, yoga, etc. While sophrologists mainly use the voice as an accompaniment support and thus participate in a modification of consciousness, sophrology is different from hypnosis. Indeed, it is part of a personal and more comprehensive approach that prioritises self-realisation and autonomy.
Before or after a session of sophrology, I present the paintings as a tool to achieve the same feeling of well-being and relaxation. The residents of senior facilities often find themselves with a lot of "empty" time, which they spend dwelling on difficult moments, focusing on their pain, which keeps them in a deep feeling of discomfort.
Painting by numbers leads them to focus, they can spend hours on their canvas and see a landscape that we have imagined in the sophrology session. Their feedback is very positive, they tell me they think of nothing, not even time passing, and they let me glimpse a moment of their life. "I thought of nothing, like when I gardened with my father," "the same feeling when I knitted sweaters for my children." During this timeless moment, they are more open, released and they tell me about their thoughts and feelings that they have kept for a long time.
We then display the paintings in the common room where families come to spend time with their loved ones. It is a pride for them to explain that they contributed to the results. One young woman in her twenties, who came to visit her grandmother, discovered the paintings and bought two for herself - a beautiful moment of transmission.
8/ What models do you recommend for what age groups?
Teenagers tends to prefer modern paintings by numbers like the monkey wearing headphones or animals for example. I enjoyed working with them on the canvas of the kitten whose reflection in a puddle reveals a tiger. It is a beautiful metaphor that allowed us to approach self-confidence, the image of others on us, self-esteem...
Adults will prefer a painting that talks about a souvenir of a trip or a decoration for a specific room (where it will be useful). Seniors will prefer a painting with a low level of difficulty so that the parts to paint are large enough and will generally choose a colourful landscape.
Thank you to Mélanie Butruille for this testimony.