Purposeful Parenting & Creativity

Purposeful Parenting & Creativity | creativity in motion

July recognizes Purposeful Parenting Month, which highlights the significant relational value of parents and children having resilient and meaningful connections with one another. Purposeful Parenting embraces understanding, unconditional love, and empathy with the consistency of structure, safety, and healthy boundaries. To parent with purpose is to be an active contributor in sustaining rapport, connection, and intention with your child or teen.

An offering I have facilitated is an art therapy group for moms living in a shelter with their children as they work on transitioning out of homelessness. This art therapy group was part of the shelter’s trauma informed parenting support program as an opportunity to receive nurturing assistance during this challenging time to strengthen coping, self-care, and explore empowering ways to sustain an affirming relationship in their child’s lives. The power of art and the creative process offers a safe place to address these topics.  Over the years that I was involved with this program, I met moms of amazing strength and resilience, not only committed to creating healthier relationships and attachments with their children, but often working on their own trauma recovery.

For children who have experienced trauma and loss in their young lives, having adult attachments that engage with purpose and compassion can be a key component to their healing. Perry & Szalavitz (2006) speak to how a child’s relationship with the adults in their lives has an essential component to how they react to trauma. They also note that if a child is surrounded and nurtured by caregivers who are safe, comforting, dependable, and present; this can help protect youth from the adverse effects of trauma, as well as strengthen their ability to recover.

“Recognizing the power of relationships and relational cues is essential to effective therapeutic work, and indeed, to effective parenting, caregiving, teaching, and just about any other human endeavor.” (p. 67, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog).

Ohio’s American Academy of Pediatrics identities six components to purposeful parenting for parents and caregivers to keep in mind. Being Protective, Personal, Progressive, Positive, Playful, and Purposeful in our relationships decreases the impact of chronic stress exposure and ultimately supports a child’s fullest potential and well-being.

The foundation of purposeful parenting and fostering relational enrichment inspired me to reflect on some fun and creative activities for families (and adult helpers involved in children’s lives) to engage in together that encourage affirming experiences and supportive interaction. Creative experiences can be an enjoyable way to foster connection, develop interpersonal ties, and positive memories:

  • Painting with Bubbles or Shaving Cream: These sensory-based twists on painting can encourage play and experimentation between child and parent using simple, inexpensive materials. Levine & Kline (2008) cite that activities involving art expression such as painting and drawing are great bonding opportunities for parents to engage in alongside their children.
  • Sidewalk Chalk: Grab a bucket or box of sidewalk chalk, head outside and take a break to chalk it up together—at home, a local park, or playground! Suggested ideas to support collective participation in this activity include drawing where the child and parent can add to one another’s images, marks, or doodles. If you are up for making your own sidewalk chalk, here’s how. Families can also play these classic sidewalk chalk games.
  • Nature Walk & Scavenger Hunt: Parents, young children, and teens can benefit from unplugging and taking time to enjoy the outdoors, fresh air and reconnect! Take a walk in nature, go biking or hiking together. Create a scavenger hunt of different nature items that the family can look for and find as a group or in pairs.
  • Homemade Play Dough and Goop: Spend a morning or afternoon making a batch of play dough together, or for older kids goop recipes can be equally as inviting and fun. You can even make scented play dough, which can add an additional sensory component to this experience.
  • Visit an Art Museum, Art Festival, or Creative Community Event: Check out your local art museum or art event as a family outing. Many museums have family related programming or guides that can help enhance your experience!  Here in Cleveland, the Cleveland Museum of Art offers a hands on, interactive family-friendly art space called Studio Play.  For young children (ages 2-4), this mail art program allows caregivers and kids to engage at home with art. And it’s free!

No matter what the month or season, there is true power in the relationships we nurture for the children and teens we care for, either as parents, caregivers, or helpers. It’s important to keep enriching these healthy attachments by cultivating safe experiences and moments of meaning all year round.

Recommended Reading:

Levine, P.A., & Kline, M. (2008). Trauma-proofing your kids: A parent’s guide to instilling confidence, joy, and resilience. Berkeley : North Atlantic Books.

Perry, B.D., & Winfrey, O. (2021). What happened to you?   Flatiron Books.

Perry, B.D., & Szalavitz, M. (2006). The boy who was raised as a dog. New York: Basic Books.

Resources:

Introduction to Purposeful Parenting (PDF) | Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

How to Approach Mindful, Purposeful Parenting

The Purposeful Parenting Mindset | PsychCentral

Purposeful Parenting Month: A Time to Learn and Grow

The Artful Parent

Childhood Trauma and Art Therapy: Supporting Well-being and Healing

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In honor of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (CMHAD), this post is dedicated to providing resources and re-publishing content that can bring awareness to the value of trauma informed care, as well as the benefits of art therapy in trauma intervention with children and adolescents.

Some key considerations to remember:

About Trauma Informed Care | creativity in motion
(C) 2017 Gretchen Miller

For many survivors of childhood trauma, the use of art therapy supports many of the key messages shared during the 60 minutes broadcast.  Here are some of art therapy’s unique benefits to support survivors of developmental trauma and adverse childhood experiences:

  • Art therapy provides a visual voice for a survivor’s experiences, emotions, and thoughts to be seen and heard through the creative process and therapeutic relationship with the art therapist. It is not uncommon for survivors of trauma to experience limitations or apprehension with expressing themselves through words alone.
  • Art making, as a sensory-based intervention can help safely express and manage or access content from lower parts of the brain where traumatic experiences and implicit memory live without words. This is why verbal expression can be insufficient, anxiety provoking, and inadequate for many survivors.
  • When a survivor engages in art therapy they are offered with the opportunity make choices and decisions through the creative process that helps create new ways of seeing the self, empower resiliency, and help envision their recovery path ahead.

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Resources

How Art Therapy Can Improve Your Mental and Emotional Health:  Learn about how art therapy can benefit the wellbeing of adolescents.

Art Therapy in Action: Trauma (American Art Therapy Association Video)- How art therapy can help individuals or families who have experienced trauma express what they’ve been through safely, and tell their stories without needing to talk.

The Value of Art Expression in Trauma-Informed Work – The following American Art Therapy Association and National Institute for Trauma and Loss Institute resource summarizes a few of the important themes and considerations connected to trauma-informed work and how the process of art-making can help to achieve grounding, reflection and growth.

Bruce Perry’s Impact: Considerations for Art Therapy & Children from Violent Homes – Brief presentation about how Dr. Bruce Perry’s work has influenced an art therapist’s art therapy & trauma work with children from violent homes. Presented as part of a panel at the 2008 American Art Therapy Association conference in Cleveland, Ohio.

How Art Therapy Can Help Children Facing Mental Health Challenges (Huffington Post)

SAMHSA’s Resources for Child Trauma Informed Care

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing – Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey

Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services- Trauma & Children

Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services- ABCs of Mental Health

The Value of Community Care in Difficult Times

We are all familiar with concepts of self-care as an important practice to take time for attending to our emotional, psychological, and physical health,  wellbeing, and needs.  Engaging in self care has often been highlighted throughout this pandemic to bring attention to strategies connected to managing our stress, isolation, and extreme changes associated with COVID-19’s impact.

Beyond self-care however, is the value of community care and its importance in taking responsibility and accountability to collectively care for one another, especially showing up in the hard times of distress and struggle.  Community care is also examining how we can use our privilege to be present and of help for another person or a group of people in ways that activates support and commitment not just on an individual level, but as a collective consciousness dedicated to caring for others in our communities and world. For example, people have been hand sewing and making masks for healthcare workers, loved ones, and community members to help protect everyone from COVID-19 infection. Our mask wearing, physical distancing, and handwashing hygiene to mitigate COVID-19 is a responsibility we can all practice for the health & well-being of those around us.

We have also witnessed a form of community care throughout US cities and beyond in other countries coming together to collectively support Black Lives Matter in unprecedented ways to denounce the murdering of African Americans at the hands of the police, shed light on the realities of systemic racism, and through acts of demonstrating, protesting, creating public & street art in response, as well as the use of digital activism through social media to amplify messages of support, solidarity, and anti-racism.

Community care has been an important component of taking care of each other during these difficult times. Read this recent post from YES! Magazine to learn more about how community care is showing up in this “next normal” we are trying to make sense of for ourselves and more importantly, others.

If you are interested in exploring the concept of community care with art therapists, below is an artist trading card exchange focusing around this theme that you are invited to participated in– what does community care look like to you?

Related Posts:

Creative Action Link Round Up: Self-Care, Responsibility, Community

Creative Action Link Round-Up: Racial Justice, Anti-Racism, & Social Change

Finding Calm Through Creativity In Uncertain Times

Creative Action Link Round-Up: Racial Justice, Anti-Racism, & Social Change

This creative action link round up shares some art therapy and art-based resources to learn more about racial trauma, ways that art therapists can practice anti-racism, as well as how the arts are providing a voice to pain, loss, suffering, and bring communities together in protest, meaningful change, hope, solidarity, & advocacy.  This post also honors the contributions of African American pioneers in the field of art therapy.

  • Creative Healing Spaces: Healing From Racial Wounds: Three lessons art therapist Lindsey D. Vance has learned about changing the framework of therapy in her practice with clients of color to respond to racial trauma, engage in community based practice, and bring communities together through art.  Lindsey also participated last week in a Creative Justice FB Live with Sharon @ Spark Your Creative to discuss the intensity of what we are seeing and hearing, how it can deeply affect our ability to create , what we do create, and how we can heal ourselves and others affected by violence in our communities.
  • Cultural Humility in Art Therapy– In this book published early in 2020, art therapist Dr. Louvenia Jackson writes about cultural humility in art therapy, as a lens to address power differentials and encourage art therapists to examine privilege within social constructs, become mindful of our own bias, assumptions and beliefs.
  • Anti-racist Approach to Art Therapy: Re-examining Core Concepts– Three strategies from art therapist Dr. Jordan Potash for art therapists to confront race-based injustices & power differentials in our practice and with systems. Learn more about how art therapists can develop an anti-racist perspective, re-examine art therapy concepts through anti-racist paradigms, and advocate for system change.
  • Framing Race in the Context of Art Therapy: Art therapist Dr. Cheryl Doby-Copeland frames race in the context of art therapy through defining racism, racial trauma, & bringing awareness to the impact of societal discrimination & oppression with clients & families of color.

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  • Honoring African-American Art Therapy Pioneers : Learn about the contributions of Georgette Seabrooke Powell, Charles Anderson, Dr. Sarah McGee, Dr. Lucille Venture, and Cliff Joseph to the profession of art therapy as leaders, clinicians, educators, researchers, authors, artists, and advocates.

 

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My Own Call to Action: 

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Related Posts:

Creative Action Link Round Up: Self-Care, Responsibility, Community

20 Creative Quotes on Courage, Hope, & Possibility

Creative Resilience Link Round Up

COVID-19 Material Management and Best Practices for Art Therapy

This week I started to cautiously ease into providing in-person art therapy groups at one the sites I am at that has re-mobilized face to face group therapy programming for clients.  A lot of consideration has been made organizationally to create a physical environment that will be safe for clients needing services.  This starts with mandatory healthcare screening measures and clearance upon entering the overall facility such as temperature checks, self report questions about potential COVID-19 symptoms and risk, lots of signage and visual cues for physical distancing in common spaces, and being provided a mask to wear if you do not already have one.

Within the program space in which I provide services, every group member is required to physically distance at least 6 feet from other members and the facilitator, which also includes limiting the maximum number of clients allowed in the group space depending on the required amount of space needed for physical distancing.  Everyone on-site (group leaders, staff, and clients) wear masks throughout the day’s programming.

As an art therapist facilitating primarily group work, I want to keep clients, their families, staff, and myself as safe as possible during this transition of navigating to this next normal of gathering together again, even if it is 6 feet apart.  The usual use of art therapy materials that are commonly available to the group or used in a session (often shared or handled by multiple people and as a community), as well as the way materials are managed or distributed in the art therapy space required serious reconsideration.  In an effort to make sense of this new, developing practice for myself and help educate or reassure those coming into the art therapy space, I drafted this COVID-19 Material Management and Best Practices in Art Therapy two pager. 

The two pager provides practices on three areas: Hand Washing/Sanitizing,  Material Management, and Disinfection of Art Materials to help promote infection control and decrease the spread of germs and illness.  I also provided examples of media that I use in my art therapy space to help distinguish between supplies that would be considered single use or could be used multiple times if properly disinfected.  I also started to individually put art materials into ziploc bags that could be given to clients to use (and clean before putting back into the bag) or if not possible to clean (such as oil pastels) to keep for their own use at home or discard.  Obviously in a group setting, where the amount of clients and number of groups throughout the week can be several, there may not be the necessary budget to sustain giving materials away or throwing them out.

As this evolving situation with COVID-19 continues to emerge, additional practices and approaches will certainly also surface within the art therapy community.  Medical art therapists who regularly work with immune comprised patients have instituted infection control procedures with their materials and their way of working as a common form of practice.  Considerations are made for providing meaningful and therapeutic art interventions that not only emotionally support a patient they are working with and appropriate treatment goals, but also the necessary use of handling, prepping, and using materials in the physical space to ensure this is a safe practice and will do no harm to ones health and wellbeing.   Art therapists’ knowledge and understanding of materials are a primary foundation to our practice, expertise, and training.

The two pager I created was informed by the valuable experiences of the medical art therapy community, as well as art educators working in classrooms with lots of students who are trying to figure out how to teach and make art together safely as a group when they are finally able to return to some form of in-person learning.  This American Art Therapy Association (AATA) COVID-19 related resource and recent journal publication, as well as AATA webinars that were hosted in March and May also provided helpful information about working in this new environment.

I am curious if you have any suggestions for practices you’ve started to use or consider for face to face art material use in this time of COVID-19, especially related to work with groups or more than one individual at once?  We can definitely keep learning from eachother as we face unfamiliar situations and working because of this pandemic.

Building Online Creative Communities in the Time of COVID-19

The Art Therapist's Guide to Social Media

Earlier in this month, a special report was published by Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association that provides protocols art therapists can enact during this time of COVID-19 to support public health psychosocial guidelines informed by the Ebola & SARS epidemic, caring for frontline health workers, & building creative communities online. You can download the report here.

Included in this report, the use of social media and online platforms can be valuable tools to support information exchanging, sustain interpersonal relationships, decrease isolation and provide creative opportunities to engage in community, meaningful connection, and relational experiences online.

What are your thoughts? How have you used social media differently during the last couple of months in response to COVID-19?

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Finding Calm Through Creativity In Uncertain Times

We have all been experiencing and navigating an uncertain terrain of intense change & loss during this worldwide pandemic.   The impact of this public health crisis has been overwhelming.  For me, it has been comforting to find some refuge and calmness in connecting to my own creativity and the creativity of others during this time of isolation.   This has taken the form of mindful doodling, working on artist trading cards that I will be sending out as mail art, gathering for virtual art making on Zoom, and enjoying the art & creative expressions filling my social media feeds.

Every year, April 15-21 is designated as World Creativity & Innovation Week which is celebrated to recognize the important value of creativity on our lives and around the world.  This year I believe WCIW shines a bigger, brighter spotlight on the role of creativity on these dark times, as our lives, workplaces, relationships, and well-being have collectively experienced great stress and disruption.

When fellow creative, artist, poet, friend, and Spark Your Creative creativity coach Sharon Burton reached out to me to spend some time talking with her on World Creativity & Innovation Day about creating calm through creativity, I was honored to help inform this discussion. It is always a pleasure to chat with Sharon and I appreciate when her creative acts and inspiration pop up in my social media feeds.

Finding Calm through Creativity in Uncertain Times | Creativity in Motion

Some of the topics we touched on were creativity as self-care, ways to activate creativity as a family in these times of staying at home, tips for jumpstarting your creativity if you think “I’m not creative” or if you are experiencing a creative block or feeling stuck.  You can catch the replay here.

In addition to our discussion, I also wanted to share some resources and content that also addresses some of the topics we covered:

How have you used creativity during this time of COVID-19?

Art Therapy Round Up: Connecting & Creating During COVID-19

The Art Therapist's Guide to Social Media

A few years ago, the site brightdrops.com posted this about Albert Einstein’s very well known and inspiring quote “Creativity is Contagious” (a favorite!):

It’s funny to think of creativity being contagious, like a virus, but it really does spread from one person to another, just by the act of that second person watching the first be creative…Then find that others start acting the same way, and before long you’ve got a virtual creative epidemic on your hands. (brightdrops.com, 2016)

I think of creativity in this way a lot.  So much, it inspired me to dedicate an entire chapter in The Art Therapist’s Guide to Social Media about my concept of 6 Degrees of Creativity and examples of how our art making and creative deeds can have a profound influence among and around us, on and offline.  These times of COVID-19 create a unique lens (in many ways!) about…

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Art Therapy & Technology Digital Time Capsule: How Do You Use Technology as an Art Therapist in 2020?

The Art Therapist's Guide to Social Media

At the beginning of this new year & decade, the idea of creating an art therapy & technology digital time capsule seemed like it would be a fun and collaborative project to invite current art therapists and future art therapists to participate in! This digital time capsule is an opportunity to document our relationship and activities with technology in 2020 as art therapists and re-visit the responses 10 years from now in 2030. As this time capsule project begins to take shape with contributions, sharing some of the questions & responses from the art therapy community also makes this process fun!

DigitalTimeCapsule

This first blog post features examples from art therapists about how they use current technology in 2020 as an art therapist. Responses are divided into seven areas and includes practices, tools, platforms, software, and activities related to therapeutic work, administrative tasks, learning & professional development, research, teaching & education…

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Gratitude Round-Up: Creativity, Resilience, & Well-being

creativity in motion

I thought today would be a nice time to re-share some of my favorite archived blog posts about gratitude, creativity, resilience, and well-being. I enjoyed re-visiting these and I hope you will enjoy this round-up too:

These posts continue to guide me about the importance of having a gratitude practice and the role of creativity in helping support and express what we are thankful for– especially in times of uncertainty, stress, or conflict. Not just today or when times are tough, but beneficial for our well-being everyday.  A wonderful opportunity for us to activate daily creative practices with an attention to gratitude.  🙂

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