“It worked! Whenever I finished my assignment, the clinician received it asking additional questions or helping me see a missed clue. After three sessions he knew more about me than long-time friends and I had gained valuable insights, an unexpected bonus for me. I feel more secure now, because I know that my own mind can provide the answers to all my problems. I can follow the method of dealing with them…I was led through the series of questions to a solution of my own. I began to enjoy the unfolding stories and final answers.”
“I was bristling with anger until I picked up the crayons! The anger came from my feelings regarding a composite of incidents that happened over my lifetime; both during early childhood and adolescence. I am not describing an art therapy technique…I am referring to a self-discovery, my own just discovered modus operandi.”
“What came out of these drawings was something I already KNEW intellectually but had not necessarily FELT through any other therapies I have tried. During the course of this workbook , I progressed from feeling fractured and stressed, having no particular insights as to WHY, to taking identified conflictual patterns towards resolution.”
“By finally understanding this logical progression of my feelings, insights and knowledge gained from using the workbook, my anxieties no longer seemed insurmountable. I saw my true colors spread before me in drawings only I could have created in a logical, predictable sequence.I saw the rainbow of my life shining as if after a storm. I now knew where to begin to heal.”
“I know now what I need to do to make more resolutions and how to keep myself out of trouble. I have learned how to use power management to my advantage instead of letting someone else’s power management ruin me. I am growing again and understanding myself better than I have ever known myself before. I am learning about myself.”
TESTIMONIALS ABOUT THE TESTING EXPERIENCE:
STATEMENTS FROM DOMINANT INDIVIDUALS
The Ant and Flea: “Dr. Levis worked hard to make me realize that all the failings (both positive and negative) were the result of how I was treated by my mother when I was very young; that my cycle of despair was the result of unresolved conflicts between those "learned" feelings of "being bad" and my own desire and determination for a life of some satisfaction and success. Of course, all of this was not new to me as I had had many years of therapy. But I wish to emphasize that in writing and drawing the exercises one is confronted with an active rather than a merely passive pursuit to the coping with one's problems. I use the word coping carefully for I do not believe that deep-seated problems such as I have are ever really "cured" and that a peaceful co-existence with one's antagonistic elements within oneself can be attained only through a never ceasing vigilance coupled with a will to be healed. With creating images and metaphors as Dr. Levis instructs, I think a more concrete foundation on which to form a more objective outlook emerges…I was unconsciously beginning to build a bridge between a healthy reality and my dreams (which often took the form of recognition and great success). Eventually this bridge began to filter in my consciousness as I saw myself as more complete and able to, in fact, cope with the vicissitudes of life and more importantly began to build a genuine success for myself based on a more firmly grounded reality.
This is not always easy and constant vigilance is required. I think the last image I did of myself (in the final exercise book) was of a slightly deformed eagle, which nevertheless was able to soar above the earth with the greatest possible freedom…the animal metaphors and other exercises of Dr. Levis are a key ingredient in the unlocking of unconscious (and conscious) problems…Former problems can cease to chain the individual to his former life of seemingly unending cycles of despair and hopelessness. One is able to see and experience life itself as the greatest gift and with it the promise of joy will follow.”
The Buffalo and the Terrier: “I was bristling with anger until I picked up the crayons! The anger came from my feelings regarding a composite of incidents that happened over my lifetime; both during early childhood and adolescence. I am not describing an art therapy technique...I am referring to a self-discovery, my own just discovered modus operandi. The bristling style I was not entirely aware of until I began drawing with a box of crayons in a very special workbook developed by Dr. Levis…Now, in a sense, I have drawn my way towards mental health. I managed to move from anger to reconciliation. Without these drawings linked in a logically proven sequence or continuum , I might have never truly discovered that my past is inextricably linked with every moment of my present and that my own very old anger constantly made me uncomfortable with anxiety, defensiveness and aggression in most of life's situations. What came out of these drawings was something I already KNEW intellectually but had not necessarily FELT through any other therapies I have tried. During the course of this workbook, I progressed from feeling fractured and stressed, having no particular insights as to WHY, to identifying conflictual patterns towards resolution. I learned that I was like a hyperactive terrier that needed to slow down, respect myself and not be so terrified of those in authority roles. I also learned through these protocols that I was carrying around old anger. By finally understanding this logical progression of my feelings, insights and knowledge gained from using the workbook, my anxieties no longer seemed insurmountable. I saw my true colors spread before me in drawings only I could have created in a logical, predictable sequence. I saw the rainbow of my life shining as if after a storm. I now know where to begin to heal.”
This patient’s Commentary on the Therapeutic Experience: This patient wrote an essay about her experience upon the completion of her second therapeutic evaluation.
“As a 33-year-old woman, I went through this therapeutic evaluation to find the cause of my panic attacks and my severe anxiety I began to experience whenever my boyfriend’s children would come to visit him at our shared apartment. I was no stranger to therapy... in fact for at least 20 years (perhaps more?), I have suffered from depression, two suicide attempts, hospitalizations, fragmented interpersonal relationships, hypochondria, migraine headaches, asthma and a host of other no doubt psychologically related maladies. The first testing therapeutic evaluation allowed me to bring forth through a sequence of revealing drawings and statements, my innermost fears, traumas and conflicts. After completing the testing, I felt a sense of mastery realizing the rational nature of my conflicts in a non-threatening way. By drawing the metaphor exercises I came to realize my problematic tendencies manifested in images and dialogues. In my first book, I made illustrations of a strong predatory animal and one which gets preyed upon, e.g., in the first series, Mouse and a Hawk, Red-Riding Hood and The Wolf, a Shark and a Sea fish, A tired Greyhound dog and Three mocking Alley Cats. During the training that followed, the structure of my relationships repeated itself in the second battery series: a Mountain Lion and A Turkey, Jack Jumping over the Candlestick and A Basking Shark and tiny Plankton and finally a Terrier and a Buffalo.
The implications of my exercises were meaningful in looking at myself. The integration of the testing revealed that, the anxiety I experienced from encounters with my step-children as illustrated in the tired Greyhound derided by three Alley Cats was related to the hostility I felt against my own stepmother. The artwork and commentary helped me to realize the deep seated anxieties about my step children as the mirror image of my hostile unexpressed attitude at my stepmother (Mouse vs. Hawk in the first series) and (Turkey vs. Mt. Lion in the second). Adjusting my feelings toward my Father as in the Short Story of The Terrier and the Buffalo, helped me to feel less threatened by my boyfriend’s children’s visits. I felt less threatened by them, my stepchildren. After the second testing experience within a group setting I felt more resolved in my relationship with my Father and my Stepmother.
The two self-studies provided me with an overview of my present in the context of the past. I depicted my immediate family, their characteristics, strengths and failings. The drawings helped me to review my past family life and my subsequent responses, anxieties and defenses in a logical, rational progression instead of solely as non-connected emotional outpourings as it occurred in other therapies I have experienced. I now recognized my underlying hostile and antagonistic disposition whereas I always felt victimized, “devoured”, preyed upon in relationships. And all this information about the past and about my perceptions came to bear on my current interactions with my parents as well as my boyfriend and his children. It explained how I perceived them as hostile and demanding like I felt as a restrained stepchild. Some of my behavior/s had been touched upon in prior therapy programs ---- but none of them made connections, never so quickly and concisely as in this experience. What I have achieved is a clearer and better springboard from which to either continue therapy or work some conflicts out on my own. Without these insight-generating diagnostic instruments and changes-generating processes I would not have been able to identify the sources of my current conflicts so easily, quickly and logically. These insights helped to modify my behavior appropriately and effectively. Medication alone would have postponed dealing with the conflicts as opposed to dealing and permanently trying to resolve them. I used anti-depressants for awhile but I experienced the brief exposure to Power Management as a ‘user-friendly, psychological education which allowed me to diagnose myself and to work towards evolving a clear understanding of my attitude and current fears. It is a positive program for self-realization that is needed in order to change attitudes and overcome symptoms. I wish I had had an opportunity to work through my conflicts early in life before my personality developed into inescapable life patterns which sadly followed me into adulthood.”
The Cheshire Cat: “It's been an interesting process, filled with insights, a process I agree would be a very rapid solution to any psychological problem…I've learned that my life, like most people's lives, has had two cycles. We go from pain to mastery over the pain. After forty years of utilizing a self-imposed “shell” to avoid letting pain into my being and dealing with it, I experienced pain and broke down in tears in front of my family for the first time. We experienced catharsis. By admitting defeat, I had won.”
The Mad Postal Employee: “I found [the CAB] to be very helpful in dealing with my aggression and the attempted suicide when I wanted to harm my family…The testing has shown me that I have been unable to relate to my wife and the kids and have more aggression than I thought. This test has also given me a different outlook on life as suicide is not the answer. I did feel under pressure…as I really did not want to release feelings, but the drawings helped, even though I do not like to draw. I have been through therapy before and it did not work with just talking to the doctor, as I was not able to reveal my true feelings. This testing is a very good way to get to the problem much quicker; it also helped to decide the exact type of therapy which will be most beneficial to me, the patient.”
Running out of time: I am innately wired to be dominant and aggressive. I recklessly power through life and get myself in trouble by not heeding the Power Management mantra enough. So, were I less aggressive, I would also be less scared. If I were less intense, I would be more peaceful and joyful. If I weren’t so competitive, I wouldn’t feel like I was always in such a race against time. This test has given me wisdom.”
The Dinosaur and the Squirrel: I am currently in a stage of questioning societal norms. Now that my relational pattern has been identified, and my challenges have been brought to light, I feel ready to actively seek out some answers.”
The Elephant and the Fawn: Completing a CAB workbook and this study of my family has provided me with new perspective on my difficulty with change and anxiety about leaving home, not to mention with a new tool with which to scrutinize my patterns in an imaginative and therapeutic yet remarkably objective and methodical way. Having identified that my fears lie rooted in my anxious-ambivalent attachment to home, I feel more prepared and self-aware and thus more able to envision a path of change…This is a monumental step forward for me, a step very much supported and enhanced by the steps and stories present in my family’s workbooks. The similar threads of worry and doubt in our books make me feel less alone in my anxieties, and yet somehow more equipped to tackle my anxieties on my own, for myself.
The owl and the puppy:
Picture this, a very dark day begins. It’s 7:30 AM. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the dew is rising off the trees but not for me. For me this is just another extension of a day that has not ended. For several days it is painful to see the sunrise, for it means I have not slept for another night. Barely having the strength to continue, I move forward in what seems a worthless life, which I wish I could leave. Pain is all around; my head hurts, my body aches, my eyes, and me so heavy that I do not understand why they will not stay closed. Every minute I welcome death. I will not take my life but I wish for death to either come or go away. My life is a living hell. No one understands and people say things like ‘you just need to work a little or be more tired’. Little do they realize I have physically and mentally worked straight with no sleep for more than four days. My sanity slowly comes and goes. I worry about what I will do sometimes but I must remember to remain strong. The sun sets for another day. I am petrified, for this signals the beginning of my personal hell. Days aren’t so bad, but nights are extreme pain, every minute slowly ticking by and I wondering ‘can I make it through another night? Tears begin to swell in my eyes as I know this will be another sleepless night. This is painful to write.
I had to hide it after I wrote it. It represents so much pain. I let my fiancée’ read it. Last few nights the hopelessness is not there. I am close to being able to sleep on my own, but yet it seems far.
1. When I first came to see Dr. Levis I was not sleeping and I had a sense of hopelessness. Dr. Levis used some drawings I had made to unlock the meaning of my animal metaphors. The first drawing I made, a picture of an outdoor setting with an owl and a puppy dog. The owl was my grandfather and the puppy was myself. My grandfather had died about a year and a half ago and Dr. Levis pointed out that I was following my grandfather like a puppy and when my grandfather passed away I had become the owl in the picture and that I was controlling everything around me and that I needed to stop controlling and start trusting people. I immediately could see that I had become the owl and that I was controlling people. As I left the office that day I felt tons lighter and saw things differently.
2. It did not take me long to start to realize I had been controlling all the people in my life. I did not like this and I started to trust people and not control them. I must admit it was a huge difference in the way I looked at the world. Instead of trying to control events around me, I would just let them happen and trust.
I realized for many years I was controlling my younger brother. My brother had died several years ago in an auto accident. So one person I could never stop controlling was him because he is gone. Dr. Levis knew I was controlling my brother by another picture I had drawn. In this drawing I was much younger and was getting out of my bed to shut a light off that my brother had turned on earlier. Back and forth my brother and I would compete and me always trying to control him. I would do things like break his collarbone when he beat me at a soccer game, smash him in the face for touching my truck and on and on. I wish I could apologize to him.
3. I knew I would have to talk to my parents and fiancé’ about the ways I was trying to control them. It wasn’t easy but I confronted them one at a time to let them know I am sorry and I am another person now. My father was the least receptive. He was angry and said ‘everyone has problems’ and continued to unload on me. But I knew this would happen because I had not been honest with him in the past. Although he was angry, I felt better because I told him. At the same time, I went into relapse Thursday and Friday. I did not sleep at all. Saturday I got drunk and slept a few hours. Sunday and Monday I had not slept at all and Tuesday I was exhausted. During these sleepless nights I cannot say it wasn’t difficult. But something was different. I did not feel as hopeless and I became very close to sleeping but just could not go that extra inch or two needed to fall asleep.
4. Wednesday I came to see Dr. Levis and explained to him about the relapse. I wrote some things down on a piece of paper and I was instructed to sit down in the chair and kick back and relax. It took a few minutes but then I felt myself fall into the grasp of the comfortable chair. I was told about a pendulum on a clock and the ocean waves coming in and out. This was extremely relaxing and a breathing pattern began to emerge, a different pattern from before, a more relaxing pattern. As I awoke I felt much better and I think another piece to my puzzle has been put into place.
Fighting with her sister for attention like cats and dogs:
“I’ve gained more insight on my own doing the drawings. It brought out a lot of hidden meanings. I am able to be more aware of how to gain inner peace by making an effort. I realize that there is a build-up of experiences throughout my life that shows how I conducted myself being competitive, obsessed with grades and how I got constantly depressed. I have caused myself to be that way. Dear Dr. Levis, I wanted you to know how grateful we are to see our daughter’s progress and her happier and more confident disposition. In a short time you have already given her some valuable and long-lasting “tools” to use throughout life. Thank you for your professional interest in our daughter ... and your courtesy to us! "
SUBMISSIVE INDIVIDUALS DIAGNOSES
Wise Oak: “I was amazed at how correct the workbook really was about me. After doing the work books several times…I have been able to reflect on myself in a positive way. I see my conflicts, my compromises, my defense mechanism, but I also see few resolutions. I know now what I need to do to make more resolutions and how to keep myself out of trouble. I have learned how to use power management to my advantage instead of letting someone else's power management ruin me. I am growing again and understanding myself better than I have ever known myself before. I am learning about myself.
I am a better person now. I can and will stand my ground, and I will stay and talk it over, no matter how long it takes.”
The Troll that became the Moon: “I have not cut myself in a while, and think of it infrequently. I do not believe that I would actually kill myself, nor seriously threaten to, again. I am becoming more involved in my daily family life and responsibilities. I am able to take care of my young step-daughter, niece and nephew. I am not becoming overwhelmed by the major changes in my life – moving to a new home and opening a store. I am looking forward to my new job.
I am still learning to live with myself, but I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…”
The Badger and the Rabbit: “Wisdom and innocence not only coexist in harmony, but actually complement one another. Wisdom alone leads to sadness; innocence alone leads to superficiality. When one becomes capable of experiencing both, true and substantial happiness follows. This is my resolution.”
Sun competing with the wind: “Being able to put into words the source of your troubles--through the process of creativity--is a relieving and energizing experience. Essentially, I was unwilling to explore new things because it was easy to live in a sort of stasis instead. This laziness toward discovery held me back though, and I consistently longed for that which I did not give myself…I found that my life was largely a cycle, which I now feel equipped to escape.”
Chronic Insomnia: “This time I opened up a lot more--- not only here but to my wife, my children and others. I have talked to them about my difficulty sleeping, whereas before I kept it from them. When I went to my family doctor, then a psychiatrist, they gave me pills to make me sleep. Here I learned to become self-reliant rather than depend on somebody else’s authority and advice to fix me. I have learned to become communicative... it is all right to talk about my feelings... insomnia is not an insurmountable thing.
I did the artwork when I was feeling bad and it helped me to express feelings that I otherwise wouldn’t have faced. I am happy to have made this progress. I feel confident that I can handle my fears of insomnia from now on without panicking. I am having more and more good nights and days without medication. I have to trust people more. Not to be too careful. Let it happen.”
Walls around one’s heart: “Therapy here is different, it is more structured. It is not just winging it. There is a beginning, middle and an end as opposed to free flow of comments like “what is going on this week? and trying to raise self-esteem by making things that have happened look better. The focus is what YOU have to do better to relieve symptoms rather than ‘I did the best I could do at the time.’ It is not about what makes you feel better for the moment like an ice cream cone. It is not instant gratification. It is about what to do to feel better in the long run”.