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Inner and Outer Mask

This directive can be used to explore the ways that we show up for others in contrast to how we show up for ourselves. The expressive arts directive is to draw a mask representing the outer identity you present most, as well as the inner or opposite mask. It's best to consider a specific relationship or experience where a particular "mask" is worn: For example, the mask we feel we wear at work, or the mask we wear in social situations with our friends, or with our parents. 

Be sure to give yourself time to complete this directive, about 30 minutes to an hour. 

Materials needed: Paper, markers, oil pastels or pens, collage images

Outer Mask


  • To begin, choose the specific situation or relationship where you imagine there is a mask being worn. 


  • Take some time to sit, connect with your breath and your body. Imagine how this mask may look. The ways that this identity is projected out to others. What colors, images, shapes may represent the identity of this mask. Let your intuition guide you here, there’s no wrong or right way to do this, you can let yourself be surprised. 


  • When you’re ready, draw this mask on the page. Start with a simple oval shape, and fill it in with simple collage images, colors, and shapes.

  • Then imagine the voice of the mask, and come up with a simple phrase.

  • Imagining an example listed above- the mask we wear at work- the voice of the mask may say something like: “I have all the answers” or "I'll disappear into the background so that I don't get singled out”.  Write this somewhere on the mask or page.

Inner Mask

  • Then consider the inner mask- the mask that reflects inwardly, or if you could show up the way you choose. 

  • On the back side of the page, create this inner mask- again, using simple collage images, colors, or shapes.

  • Imagine the voice of this mask, and come up with a simple phrase. You may want to use the phrase you chose for the outer mask and imagine what the opposite would be "(I don't have all the answers"), or there may be another statement or phrase that feels connected to this inner or opposite mask. 

  • Again, take your time here. Connect to any sensations, thoughts, or feelings that arise. 

  • After you complete both sides of the mask, take a few minutes to journal about what it was like to do this exercise.

  • *A final note: The purpose is to invite some curiosity to your unique experience of being seen or unseen in the world, as well as how that impacts or affects how others may see you, and how you see yourself.  Allow yourself to have fun with, be surprised, and see what you discover.  

Have more questions about EXA? You can check out my blog, which talks more about about expressive arts therapy here.  

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