Composition Work Method

Composition Work is a contemplative art therapy/coaching method to deepen emotion-awareness and explore the changing patterns of life in times of changes. It is a way to explore the richness of the inner world as a guide to growth and change.  The artistic way of working allows creative experimentation and symbolic expression that reveal meanings and experiences that go beyond words. The method is based on the internationally known theory of the Dialogical Self (Hermans, 2000) and the contemplative-aesthetic tradition of Japanese Zen-gardens. The method has been originated by dr. Agnieszka Konopka and prof. Hubert Hermans in 2006. It is used and published internationally.



Composition Work Practitioners in China

Compositionwork is based on the internationally recognized psychological theory of the Dialogical Self (Hermans, 2000) and the contemplative tradition of Zen gardens.

Important features:

  • The method uses natural symbolism as a source of self-insight and growth. In Compositionwork the inner world is externalized in a symbolic form of a landscape consisting of stones and sand.
  • Externalization is a powerful process used in compositionwork for creating insights and enlarging inner freedom. In the process of externalization personal experience is translated into a symbolic landscape that ‘speaks back’ to its creator.
  • Compositionwork uses the potential of both brain hemispheres, which optimally enhances learning processes.
  • Differentiating aspects of yourself, energies and emotions allows for learning about one’s inner richness and potential. Accessing hidden aspects and deep emotions creates change, energy and new motivation.
  • The method uses the transformational power of abstract art and creates conditions to discover the artistry in who you are
  • Compositionwork has a strong scientific basis and an integrative view on the self that guide interventions and allow to understand the mechanisms of change and development.





Composition Work Training for Practitioners, China, 2018

In composition work an inner landscape of feelings is symbolized and externalized in a form of small landscape composed of stones and other natural materials.According to Carl Gustav Jung, stones are powerful symbols. They allow us to get in touch with hidden, unknown, deep feelings and unconsios parts of ourselves. In compositionwork, we use a nonverbal languague of stones to express deep, unverbalized feelings and energies. There are many ways of using composition work. We can make a composition of feelings directly sensed on our bodies, a composition that represents the process of change, or a composition that reflects our identity or life situation.

A method inspired by nature, science and spirituality

Composition of Feelings

This type of composition helps to develop emotional awareness and presence.  To make a composition we prepare a collection of varied stones. We start from focusing attention on inner parts of the body: area inside the belly, chest, throat and head. These are areas of the inner body, where people can get in touch with their feelings. We observe and explore feelings in different areas and represent them by stones that reflect their quality. Heavy unpleasant feeling can be represented for example by a black stone, while dynamic feeling by a smooth red one. A stone needs to reflect individual experience of a feeling and it will be different for varied people. What a composition is made, we reflect on it by asking questions, sharing, and/or journaling.  

Composition of Change

Composition of change represents pictures the transition process. In it guided by such questions as:

1. What have you lost?

2. What is diminishing in your life?

3. What do you need to let go?

4. What takes too much space?

5. What is abundant in your life?

6. What grows in your life?

7. What needs to be nurtured in your life?

These questions are answered by intuitively picking up stones and composing them. Further these stones are 


Inner Travel Into Unknown

What do you need the most?

What have you lost?

What is your deep longing?

What is your fear?

Which symbol evokes some feelings in you?

Answering these questions by symbols (e.g. stones) rather than words may lead to important insights and discoveries. 

Composition Work 

Practitioners in China

Practitioners Training (12 groups from 2014) has been delivered by dr Agnieszka Konopka in cooperation with Dr Wim van Beers, Dr Joanne Zhang, Dr Tan Wufeng, Drs Lily Chen, and Drs Wilson Zhang

Training for Practitioners and Community based on Dialogical Self Theory and Composition Work has been developed and inspired by INSPIRE GROUP in China

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