Archive for the 'art therapy' Category

Springtime Creative Happenings & Goings On

March 13, 2015
Under the giving snow blossoms a daring spring. ~Terri Guillemets

Creative Deed 72/365:: “Under the giving snow blossoms a daring spring.” ~Terri Guillemets

Hooray!  Springtime is just around the corner— After this cold, cold winter I can’t wait for warmer weather, fresh spring air, more sunshine, and longer & longer days full of light…. Bring it on!

I wanted to share some of the springtime creative happenings & goings on I’m excited to be a part of over the next few months…as well as offer a First Day of Spring Giveaway to readers of this blog!

Human Trafficking in Art | creativity in motionUntil April 25-  Human Trafficking in Art, an art exhibit at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Rocky River, Ohio features art created at the Renee Jones Empowerment Center with survivor’s of human trafficking and at-risk teens I’ve been working with involved in the Center’s Project Red Cord.  You can also read more about the exhibit here.  On April 19, I’ll be speaking at WSUU’s Morning Forum to talk about the benefits of trauma intervention through art therapy to help trafficking survivors.

April 2-  Strengthening Emotional Resilience through Art Journaling Workshop with The Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County Staff as part of their Employee Wellness Program. This offering of art-making and creative expression will focus on creating a small, mobile art journal that can serve as a tangible reminder of emotional resilience, support and the importance of self-care for the work providers do in service & care of others.

April 18- As part of the Cleveland Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC) Spring ConfereSpringtime Creative Happenings & Goings On | creativity in motionnce, “Creating a Peaceful Environment in a High Stressed World”, I will be facilitating the afternoon breakout session, Peace Begins with Me: Creating Peacemakers through Creativity.  This session will introduce strategies important to facilitating group work that focus on peacemaking themes with children who have been exposed to domestic violence, bullying, and relational aggression. Content presented will help participants gain a trauma informed understanding about how these strategies and interventions promote safety, emotional expression, and coping.  Registration is now open here.

OpeniSpectrum2015ng May 1: As I announced earlier in the year, I’ve been invited to participate as part of this year’s Spectrum Teaching Collective with 25 other artists and creative offerings dedicated to celebrating your Mind~Body~Spirit~Nature through art…. and I can’t wait! I am looking forward to introducing my new workshop, Creative Covenants to explore the values that are core to the way you create, practice, and live as a creative and artful being and meeting everyone coming together in this community!  Learn more about Spectrum here.

Random Acts of Art Adventure- Spring 2015:  This 6 Degrees of Creativity Project and canvas pouch filled with art making stuff & traveling all over the world just wrapped up its tour in Australia!  Next stop on its creative travel itinerary is New Zealand and then the adventure will be returning back to the states later this spring for its final 12 destinations!  Yay!

Creative Deed 365:  The beginnings of this year’s 365 Project definitely has helped bring some fun & more creative goodness to my (and hopefully others!) winter landscape, but I am realllly looking forward to leaving my creative deeds out & about without having to wear gloves and in more outside locations!  :)  You’re invited to spring it forward with creating it forward by joining us in the Creative Deed 365 Group on Facebook to contribute your own art in the spirit of this project.

And…A Special Springtime Giveaway: To celebrate spring approaching, I am doing a give-away for a complimentary registration to this year’s Spectrum with free access to all the workshop offerings:  25 contributors, 26+ workshop invitations, 6 months multi-media online community starting May 1 and running to the end of the year. To enter this special giveaway, please leave a comment below with what you love about spring!  From these responses, I’ll put everyone’s names into one big collection & randomly pull one winner to announce on the first day of spring.  Be sure to enter by Thursday, March 19 at 12noon (EST) to participate!  I will directly contact the winner with the e-mail associated with your comment posting profile. Good luck!

Enjoy the beginnings of this new season…..!

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Related Posts:

Through a Grateful Lens: Love & Light from the Spring Sky Above

Through a Grateful Lens: Spring Light Simplicity

Spring Forward Art Making

 

Human Trafficking in Art: Expressions of Truth, Courage, Resilience, & Recovery

March 3, 2015

This week launched the local exhibit opening of Human Trafficking in Art on display in Rocky River, Ohio.  The exhibit is hosted by the West Shore Allies Against Human Trafficking Taskforce and includes a variety of work dedicated to giving a voice and awareness to this important issue and the work of the Renee Jones Empowerment Center (RJEC).

The photographs of Carla Carter Lovejoy and Don Iannone were on display (read this article about their photos when they were at Notre Dame College this past fall), telling a powerful visual narrative behind the truth of human trafficking, as well as a story of help, hope, and healing.  Also on exhibit were awareness posters created from middle and high school students in NE Ohio as part of efforts of the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking, as well as art from the art therapy groups I have been facilitating at RJEC with survivors and at risk youth as part of Ursuline ArtSpace Outreach.

The exhibit was a beautiful, moving display of truth, courage, hope, and recovery.

Human Trafficking in Art | creativity in motion

On display March and April 2015

Human Trafficking in Art | creativity in motion

It’s hard to believe that it has almost been a year since art therapy group work started at RJEC. Over the last 10 months our group gatherings have been a creative journey & artful testimony of raw emotions, coping, growth, and resilience. I am grateful and humbled by the women and teens who have shared their experiences through their art, as well as the incredible support of art therapy received from Renee Jones, Sr. Cecilia Liberatore and the many, many advocates of the RJEC’s work.

Human Trafficking in Art | creativity in motion

Pictured with Sr. Anne Victory (Collaborative to End Human Trafficking), Carla Carter Lovejoy, and Don Iannone

If you are in the NE Ohio area in March or April, I recommend taking the time to visit this exhibit and learn more about human trafficking through the photos and images on display.  The exhibit runs through April 25 and is open to the public.

For resources, help, and how to get involved with national advocacy efforts, visit the National Human Trafficking Resource Center here.  You can also support important local NE Ohio initiatives through the Renee Jones Empowerment Center.

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Related Posts:

Creating Hope: NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium

Art as a Voice: Art Therapy with Survivors of Domestic Violence

Through a Grateful Winter Lens: A Sense of Sacredness Among the Ordinary

 

Trauma, Transformation & Growth

February 15, 2015

This past week here in NE Ohio at Cuyahoga Community College Eastern Campus’ Gallery was the Exhibit Opening for The Transformative Image: Post Traumatic Growth & Art Therapy.

This exhibit featured a strong range of creative expressions (paintings, installations, drawing, textiles, ceramics, mixed media, photography & more) inspired by personal experiences and the concept of Post Traumatic Growth (PTG).  PTG filled the gallery everywhere with images & artistic representations that transformed extreme struggle, adversity, or trauma into positive, internal growth deep with re-connection to purpose, attachment, and empowerment:

Trauma, Transformation, & Growth | creativity in motion

Exhibit Opening: The Transformative Image- Post Traumatic Growth & Art Therapy

 

Trauma, Transformation, & Growth | creativity in motion

Butterfly Art Installation for adding hopes, dreams, & wishes

 

Trauma, Transformation, & Growth | creativity in motion

My Own Beautiful, Altered Brain

Here are a few interesting reads to check out & learn more about PTG:

  • Resilience and Post Traumatic Growth: Learn some creative tips via Lani Gerity’s blog on how to cultivate and practice resilience in when faced with stressful life circumstances.

If you’re going to be/in the NE Ohio area, The Transformative Image: Post Traumatic Growth & Art Therapy Exhibit is on display until March 6 at the Tri-C East Campus Gallery:

Trauma, Transformation, & Growth | creativity in motion

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Related Posts:

Journey to Resilience: Takeaways & Creative Offerings

The Art of Emotional Resilience

Everyday Courage: Artist Challenge Coins

Garland of Gratitude

November 19, 2014

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching soon, this time of year is particularly meaningful to create handmade items to give honor and appreciation to what we are thankful for.  This week I am introducing some of my groups to making a gratitude garland as a way to explore this theme.

Garland of Gratitude | creativity in motion

I am keeping the garland construction simple: I’ve cut strips from 12 x 12 patterned scrapbook paper (different colors, designs), hole punched the ends to tie together with twine (rather than just stapling or using double sided tape- which is OK too!) to begin the making of a paper chain.  Before tying the ends of the twine together,  I wrote a list of what I am thankful for this year on the one side (which will become the inside) of the paper chain link.

Each chain link can also include an attached tag as a way to label with a significant word, quote or individual’s name. Letter stamping and using other rubber stamps to simply embellish can come in handy!

Garland of Gratitude | creativity in motion

For a group offering, garlands can be made together formed by individuals contributing their own paper chain link(s) to the collective piece or individuals can work on their own garlands in the same group space.  I also think adding an exchange of gratitude strips among group members would also be fun and add to a group’s supportive intention.

The benefits to engaging in a gratitude practice are many. Of course there is the wonderful byproduct of increased joy and compassion, but to also purposefully recognize what we hold appreciation for can help strengthen adaptive coping and empower a here and now awareness that we do have control over in our attitude, behavior, and actions with ourselves, others, & our experiences.

This article, Gratitude in the Midst of Trauma: Why Thankfulness Matters, especially describes the role gratitude can have in trauma recovery.

And…if you are looking for more garland inspired ideas, check out these artful ideas:

Misfits and Remnants: Grateful

Soulemama’s Gratitude Garland

Boho Gratitude Garland

Enjoy!

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Related Posts:

Guerrilla Art Meets Gratitude for Thanksgiving

Growing Abundance: The Making of My Gratitude Tree

On Practicing and Creating Gratitude

Reflections on Art Therapy, Trauma, & Group Work

November 10, 2014

This week I am looking forward to speaking to Group Process students in Ursuline College’s Art Therapy and Counseling program about facilitating trauma focused art therapy groups.  As I work on preparing the content I’ll be sharing about my work, I am inspired to share what I have come to love about doing groups- especially as an art therapist and trauma consultant, the benefits, and how this format is valuable when doing trauma informed work.

Reflections on Art Therapy, Trauma, and Group Work | creativity in motion

Group Work Loves:

  • I definitely admit that group work has its challenges and complexities associated with meeting each member’s needs and creating a safe, cohesive, & therapeutic space for expression of emotions, thoughts, & experiences. However, groups are a really amazing setting for individual members who are managing a common experience related to trauma or a loss to come together in support of one another and provide validation they are not alone. The support that peers provide can be so nurturing and empowering related to coping, acceptance, and a sense of belonging.
  • Creating art together, sharing materials, the creative space, and created art expressions further strengthens opportunities to explore interpersonal skills, boundaries, and nurture the importance of relational enrichment.
  • My favorite part of group (other than the art-making!) is to introduce (and practice!) techniques related to supporting regulation and relaxation through deep breathing, focusing, guided imagery, movement, and more.  When I first introduce this to new members it is sometimes met with anxious laughter or hesitation, but often it’s something that pretty much everyone ends up really enjoying.  It’s awesome when that shift from a heightened state of arousal starts to give way to being in a calmer and safer moment.  I love the times where I can witness everyone breathing in unison while we take 10 minutes to calm our minds and bodies before engaging in the group’s art directive.
  • Most of the trauma focused groups that I offer to youth or adults have a structure of predictability and consistency built into its format.  This helps with decreasing feelings of anxiety and empowers the group member with a general awareness about what to expect.

If you are interested in exploring more about group work with traumatized children and adolescents, my online continuing education course (6 CEUs!) with the National Institute for Trauma and Loss (TLC) continues to accept ongoing enrollment and introduces participants to themes, sensory based activities, therapeutic books, games, and creative interventions to implement in the group setting.

Group Strategies & Interventions with Traumatized Children and Adolescents

This month I am excited to share that I also joined TLC’s amazing blogging team as a guest contributor and kindly invite you to check out my first post, “The Value of Art Expression in Trauma-Informed Work” and stay tuned for more posts in 2015! :)

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Related Posts & Resources:

Children’s Story Books for Trauma Informed Work & Art Making

Creating Hope: NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium

Group Art Therapy Interventions and Strategies: Children and Domestic Violence

Values, Virtues & Vision: Creative Exploration into Covenant Caregiving Continues

October 23, 2014

I’ve slowly been working on the altered book I started for exploring the theme of covenant based care giving.  Here are some work in progress photos:

Values, Virtues & Vision: Creative Exploration into Covenant Caregiving Continues | creativity in motion

Values, Virtues & Vision: Creative Exploration into Covenant Caregiving Continues | creativity in motion

Values, Virtues & Vision: Creative Exploration into Covenant Caregiving Continues | creativity in motion

Values, Virtues & Vision: Creative Exploration into Covenant Caregiving Continues | creativity in motion

Values, Virtues & Vision: Creative Exploration into Covenant Caregiving Continues | creativity in motion

I’ve been using a lot of acrylic paint on the raw surface of the chipboard page that I’ve stripped of its glossy coating and its former life of a children’s board book. Over the dried acrylic paint I’ve also been using some white colored pencil.  It’s been a super liberating process.

Each of these beginning pages are forming a visual pledge connected to my professional and creative work… to instill, engage with, and honor.

Live creatively.

Continue the journey.

Believe in art.

Be resilient.

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Related Posts:

Journey to Resilience: Takeaways & Creative Offerings

Exploring Covenant Based Caregiving with a Creative Twist

Self Care through Creative Practice & Intention: Vulnerability

 

 

 

Children’s Story Books for Trauma Informed Work & Art Making

October 6, 2014

As part of my ongoing re-organizing and inventorying of my work & creative space, I spent some time going through my collection of children’s books that I commonly use in group work (as well as individual sessions) with school aged youth (ages 6-12) and pre-school aged children. Many of these books I have had for years, purchased at trauma conferences, and have found really helpful to introduce a theme or topic that we will be working on before beginning the art intervention.

Children's Story Books for Trauma Informed Work & Art Making | creativity in motion

Shelfie: Children’s Story Books for Trauma Informed Work

Here are some of my favorites and how I like to use them with art making in the groups I’ve done over the years:

Domestic Violence:

  • Hands Are Not For Hitting- I like to use this book with younger kiddos, between 4-6 years old to help discuss helpful and & kind ways we can use our hands instead of choosing to be hurtful.  Often the story is followed by the children in the group tracing their own hands, decorating them with crayons or markers to include with the many ways we’ve discussed about how their hands can be used in positive, respectful, and non-violent ways.
  • A Place for Starr: A Story of Hope for Children Experiencing Family Violence- This book tells a young girl’s story about her mother, brother, and her leaving their home of domestic violence to the safety of a shelter.  The book is now out of print and any available finds are quite expensive to purchase, but if you come across an affordable copy somewhere, I recommend it highly!  I am super thankful to have a copy for my collection- I have found this book helpful for opening up discussions and art-making around the experience of coming to a shelter.

Emotions:

  • Is It Right to Fight? – The content in this book looks at aggression & anger from a variety of perspectives such as bullying, fighting between adults, war and prompts the group/child with questions to explore decisions, situations, and ways we can manage our anger or conflicts without fighting & violence.
  • When I’m Feeling…. series – This series features 8 different books about the feelings scared, sad, jealous, happy, loved, kind, lonely, & angry in very simple & short illustrated stories, which is great to use with young children to explore emotional themes. When we’re going to work on something like Worry Dolls, the When I’m Feeling Scared book is a helpful introduction to learn more about or normalize the feeling.
  • My Many Colored Days-  This book is another favorite of mine: I love the images and descriptions of emotions associated with the different colors– My favorite is the green, calm & cool fish! Lots and lots of possibilities for art-making to promote emotional expression inspired by this classic Dr. Seuss book!  Check out this PDF resource supporting social emotional development using a variety of arts based and hands on activities with this book.

Strength-Based:

  • Just Because I Am: A Child’s Book of Affirmations: I mostly use this book with young children as a way to instill not only how all feelings are OK, but that our thoughts, bodies, and who we are, is important to respect as well. This book goes really well with drawing images or pictures around the theme of “who am I?” or “this is me!”
  • Life Doesn’t Frighten Me- Maya Angelou’s amazing poem meets the awesome art illustrations of Jean-Michel Basquiat in this very inspiring book that tells the story of fearlessness and resiliency.  The narrative from these pages sets a great foundation to do some art-making about our strengths and supports.
  • Courage- This children’s book I’ve used not only in my professional work to introduce what courage is to the youth I work with, but it has also inspired my own creative work!  It’s a great story for adults to be reminded about too and both children & grown ups alike can benefit from creating Couarge Coins!
  • When I Grow Up- I initially bought this book at a local toy store in Chicago many years ago because I really liked the creative illustrations with black and white photographs of children’s faces, but then fell in love with it’s entire concept surrounding the cliche question: What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?  Instead of focusing on the typical answer of an occupation or vocation, this book suggests another thoughtful perspective (and fun pictures) such as growing up to be brave, adventurous, generous, imaginative, curious, optimistic, patient, & more.  It’s a great book to explore how we feel about ourselves (and future selves), as well as how we want to treat others.

Trauma & Loss:

Both of these books below are really valuable to help introduce what trauma is, trauma reactions, and learning how to manage traumatic stress through an animal character based story.  After reading and having a discussion about the book, I often invite kids to create art expressions about what they think happened in the story.

Peacemaking:

I use this batch of books & stories to inspire kids about how to become a peacemaker and how make choices to live non-violently in their home, school, and community:

  • What Does Peace Feel Like?- This is my favorite book in this section…. The content prompts children to use their imagination and explore their senses about what peace looks, feels, smells, tastes, and sounds like.  It’s fun to have kids draw one of the senses symbolizing peace to him or her!  Just like the book, I’ve seen that often peace often tastes a lot like ice cream! :)
  • The Peace Book- A great introductory book to start exploring simple, but meaningful ways that we can bring peace to others & the world around us!  I like to prompt group members to think (and create about) what peace means to them as an individual, in our group, to others they know (at home, school, their neighborhood), and what peace means globally in the form of a flag,, shield, or mandala.

Relaxation & Self-Regulation:

These two books share lots of different ways for kids to calm their minds and bodies in the face of stress.  Often before it’s time to make art, I like to take time to pause for a little bit of quiet time in the group, where we focus on breathing, movement, and more:

I hope this list and ideas were helpful! A lot of books listed above are linked to one of my favorite resources, The Self Esteem Shop, who supports trauma informed work through carrying many of these children’s books and more.  I hope you will check some of them out, or if you use them already (or others!) share your experiences below!

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Related Resources:

My Trauma Informed Pinterest Board

Peacemaking & DIY Papermaking

Group Strategies & Interventions with Traumatized Children and Adolescents

Destruction & Transformation in Art & Therapy: Re-Framing, Re-Forming, Re-Claiming

October 1, 2014

My interest in destruction as part of the creative process for transformation in therapy first started as a new art therapist over 15 years ago, when I worked in a boy’s residential treatment center. Not only was creating, building, & constructing an important part of the work they did in the art room, but so was the undoing, breaking & pulling things apart to in turn mend, re-build, and put back together into a new form, with a different meaning and perspective.  I loved witnessing the creative process of  this chaotic discharge contained in the safety of our session and the pieces of this becoming the seeds of something new.

Destruction & Transformation in Art & Therapy: Re-Framing, Re-Forming, Re-Claiming | creativity in motion

Destruction & Transformation in Art & Therapy: Re-Framing, Re-Forming, Re-Claiming | creativity in motion

Sometimes this was done with tearing up an old, unwanted, or emotionally challenging art expression into bits & pieces and then using these remnants to create a new image full of possibility and discovery. In my art therapy work with women survivors of domestic violence, this same concept has taken the form of pulping/destroying past journal entries, unsent letters written to their abusers, or notes to their “old me” selves to create new handmade paper as a symbolic act of freedom, new beginnings, and personal transformation.

Destruction & Transformation in Art & Therapy: Re-Framing, Re-Forming, Re-Claiming | creativity in motion

Inspired by these experiences in my clinical work and its value in the therapeutic process, I am looking forward to dedicating an entire day to explore this topic in a Master Class I’ll be co-teaching with Art Therapist Mindy Jacobson-Levy next month.

Join us on November 6 at this year’s Expressive Therapies Summit in NYC to creatively examine concepts & themes about the therapeutic role of creative destruction and the reparation of images to foster self-repair and personal growth.  As part of our exploration, participants will spend the day working on an altered book as well as deconstructing objects of personal meaning into new forms and understanding.  I can’t wait!

If you’re in the NYC area or making plans to attend this year’s Summit, I hope we can make some art together here! :)

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Related Posts:

The Altered Image: Ready to Create & Fly

Exposing & Altering Vulnerability

[Buried Treasure] What Ought to Be: On Untangling and Putting Fragments Back Together with Art

twenty14 on the go :: autumn offerings & happenings

September 15, 2014

“….autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together…” ~ Edwin Way Teale, Autumn Across America

Fall is quickly approaching, which means lots of art therapy and related offerings & activity happening– Yay!

The kick off for me starts this week with attending Ohio’s 33rd Annual BATA Symposium in Columbus, Implications of Research in Art Therapy Practice. I am looking forward to these couple of days to be inspired, meet up with art therapy colleagues & friends, as well as make some art!  Throughout the next couple of months I am also excited to be guest lecturing for undergraduate and graduate art therapy courses, facilitating a local art gathering dedicated to self care & emotional resiliency, and teaching again for the Expressive Therapies Summit in New York City, and at Ursuline College:

twenty14 on the go | autumn offerings & happenings | creativity in motion

Tokens of Strength & Affirmation: Artist Challenge Coins (ACCs)

September 19-20: 2014 Buckeye Art Therapy Association (BATA) Symposium, Columbus, Ohio- Laurel Larson, MPS, ATR and me will be offering the workshop “Tokens of Strength & Affirmation: Artist Challenge Coins (ACCs)” as part of this year’s BATA Symposium program on Friday afternoon. Used in the military, a Challenge Coin is a medallion symbolizing achievement, membership, or recognition, as well as given to increase morale and community among belonging members. In the spirit of Challenge Coins, participants will learn how to use Artist Challenge Coins (ACCs) as tokens of affirmation, strength, and recovery. Participants will engage in making their own ACC with mixed media, as well as create an ACC to exchange with other participants.

September 24: Guest lecturing at Ursuline College’s Master of Arts in Art Therapy & Counseling Program about the inspiration of Dr. Bruce Perry in relationship to art therapy & trauma as part of Dr. Amy Jacob’s Psychopathology course.

October 3: Guest lecturing at Ursuline College’s Master of Arts in Art Therapy & Counseling Program as part of Sr. Kathleen Burke, PhD’s Arts and Social Justice intensive course.

twenty14 on the go | autumn offerings & happenings| creativity in motion

Self Care through Creative Practice & Intention: An Evening of Art Making for Helping Professionals

October 15: Self Care through Creative Practice & Intention: An Evening of Art Making for Helping Professionals, Cleveland, Ohio- Explore & strengthen emotional resilience through art-making and creative practice within this small and artful gathering of helping professionals. This evening of art-making will focus on creating a mini, mobile accordion matchbox art journal that can serve as a tangible reminder of support, strength, & the importance of self-care for the work we do in service & care of others. For more information and to register, visit this link.

October 20 & 21: Remote lecture for undergraduate psychology students at the University of Cincinnati, Clermont College focusing on the topic of using art in trauma intervention.

November 6-9: 5th Annual Expressive Therapies Summit, New York City- On November 6, Mindy Jacobson-Levy, MCAT, ATR-BC, LPC, DVATA HLM and me will be teaching the Master Class Destruction & Transformation in Art & Therapy: Re-Framing, Re-Forming, Re-Claiming at this year’s ET Summit. Participants in this all day offering will explore key concepts surrounding the therapeutic role of creative destruction and the reparation of images that fosters the fertile ground for self-repair and personal growth. A self-directed journey will commence as we discover how art making affects each of us; this enhanced by group discussion. Case material will be presented as a bridge to our work with various client populations.

Throughout this semester I am also teaching Art Therapy Studio I again, a core course for Ursuline College’s Art Therapy & Counseling Program to explore creativity, self expression, and lots of studio, art-making time.  In addition to personal art making and creating a portfolio of work throughout the semester, students will also learn how to create digistories and use the medium of digital storytelling to share narratives about their artist identity.

This fall I also have some new supervision times available for art therapists seeking the Art Therapist Registration (ATR) credential, whether you are local to or outside NE Ohio.  Skype supervision sessions are available for art therapists living outside NE Ohio and abroad.  Check out this link for more information and how to connect with me if you might be interested.

As always during this busy and inspiring time of year, I hope that there might be a place or opportunity above or between for us to connect and meet up off the grid!  <3

Creating Hope: NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium

August 10, 2014

I recently attended the 4th Annual NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium organized by the Renee Jones Empowerment Center and hosted on the campus of Notre Dame College here in the Cleveland area. The day was completely full with a variety of informative topics addressing areas in relationship to trafficking & survivor stories, therapeutic services, law enforcement, outreach, and housing.  I wanted to share some of the resources, information, energy, efforts, and examples of hope, recovery, and resilience that filled the room throughout the day, as well as the work being done locally and nationally to bring awareness and help to this issue.

Creating Hope: NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium | creativity in motion

Cleveland’s Renee Jones Empowerment Center

The Renee Jones Empowerment Center is the only NE Ohio agency “committed to providing life coaching and aftercare services to those with the courage to break the human trafficking system…Human Trafficking is code for slavery — involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or peonage.”  Humantrafficking.org is a comprehensive international web resource full of publications, updates, research, and reports to learn more about the advocacy efforts happening around the world.

 During the Symposium’s Treatment & Clinical Services track information was presented about models, strategies, and approaches being used with at-risk youth for prevention & recovery that is grounded in trauma informed theory and attachment treatment.  Some of treatment considerations discussed were:

  • Implementing a Positive Peer Culture (PPC) within Group Based Work:

    PPC “is a peer-helping model designed to improve social competence and cultivate strengths in troubled and troubling youth. “Care and concern” for others (or “social interest”) is the defining element of PPC. Rather than demanding obedience to authority or peers, PPC demands responsibility, empowering youth to discover their greatness. Caring is made fashionable and any hurting behavior totally unacceptable. PPC assumes that as group members learn to trust, respect, and take responsibility for the actions of others, norms can be established. These norms not only extinguish antisocial conduct, but more importantly reinforce pro-social attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Positive values and behavioral change are achieved through the peer-helping process. Helping others increases self-worth. As one becomes more committed to caring for others, s/he abandons hurtful behaviors.”

 More information about this model can be read here: The Evidence Base for Positive Peer Culture [PDF].

  • The Sanctuary Model® for Organizations and Programs working with Survivors:

The Sanctuary Model is an evidence-supported template for system change based on the active creation and maintenance of a nonviolent, democratic community in which staff and clients are empowered as key decision-makers to build a socially responsive, emotionally intelligent and just community that is able to transform internal and external conflict, and that fosters growth and change.

More information about this model can be read here: Trauma-Informed Means Changing Organizational Culture

  •  Interventions valuable to treatment are client centered, empower survivors with a source of control about their thoughts, feelings, & behavior, as well as utilize structured sensory interventions & experiences that are soothing, repetitive, and build resiliency. (This includes art therapy!)

In my art therapy work at the Renee Jones Empowerment Center throughout this year as part of Ursuline ArtSpace’s Outreach Program, I try to keep the following themes in mind when planning and implementing art interventions for group work:

Creating Hope: NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium | creativity in motion

Jeanne Allert, Founder & Executive Director of The Samaritan Women in Baltimore Maryland also reinforced the power of play as a liberating & therapeutically essential part to the activities and structure of her restorative program for survivors of trauma and trafficking.  Also check out the TSW website for their lists of must see films and books to read to learn more about sex trade, human trafficking, or prostitution.

For me, the most emotionally powerful part of the Symposium’s day was the program’s Keynote Speaker, Dr. Elaine Richardson who performed a one-woman show inspired by her book PHD to Ph.D. It included an amazing performance of music and storytelling about Dr. Richardson’s experience & recovery from addiction and her life in prostitution.

Learn more about Dr. Richardson’s work and story here:

Thank you to the Renee Jones Empowerment Center for bringing us all together to bring awareness, help, and hope to this important issue.

*****

Related Posts:

Advocacy & Empowerment through Art: Social Action and Trauma Informed Care

Finding a Safe Place: Creating Safety for Domestic Violence Survivors through Art

Journey Shoes: Walking In the Cycle of Violence

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