Anxiety and Voice
Authentic Voice Training with Terri Chester
By: Sara Skowronski LPC, ATR-BC
I recently attended an intensive weekend workshop at the New York Expressive Arts Institute entitled Authentic Voice, facilitated by Expressive Arts Therapist Terri Chester. I wanted to learn more about the relationship between anxiety and voice. The workshop was intimate with nine participants, all of whom besides myself meet once a month to share, learn and study the Expressive Arts together. I was excited and nervous to attend this workshop. While I have an experiential and philosophical knowledge of the Expressive Arts paradigm, this was my first “voice” workshop. I experienced new ways of understanding Expressive Arts’ themes such as recovering, low skill -high sensitivity, and theme near or theme far.
The workshop was comprised of many components, one of which was a 15 minute singing voice solo with two aesthetic responses given from peers, along with one of writing and one of art. I have experienced decentering through voice into a community space and this time I was facilitated to decenter using voice into a personal recollection of childhood bliss. I found myself singing in Spanish recovering how I had lived with another family in Granada, Spain when I was seven years old. To this day I can recollect how comfortable I felt living in the Spanish Mountain culture of slow mornings and long afternoons, much conversation between women and men about life and dancing. How does this experience relate to my present day life situation? I would consider this experience theme far, while feeling very intimate and pertinent. I was recovering my resonance of being comfortable, family grounded and full of life through a paced lifestyle.
For the last ten years, in my mental health counseling private practice where I work with children, adolescents, couples and adults, I have been witness to the relationship between anxiety and voice. More specifically I have observed how my clients diminish their anxieties by learning how to use their voice. This is a process they embark upon. First they seem to recognize that certain self -expressions are being silenced, then they decide they have a desire to “unslience” a certain self- expression or have a need for communication. Finding your voice, about a past or present situation, can been very scarey and anxiety producing in itself. Our hearts may pound, our palms sweat, our voice quiver; while afterwards our heart may relax and our voice may become clear and we may even feel more loving and loveable. I observe how once my clients voice a feeling their anxiety begins to lessen, and a sense of peace and confidence occurs. As a therapist I like to look over, under, and around certain dynamics I observe. So I studied and experienced the voice workshop. After the voice workshop I experienced less anxiety when I was given an opportunity for self-expression.
The intensive weekend workshop at the New York Expressive Arts Institute entitled Authentic Voice, facilitated by Expressive Arts Therapist Terri Chester was a powerful experience.