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.

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?

Artist Dates, Creative Field Trips, and Artful Adventures: 18 Ideas for 2018

Last week I was scrolling my social media feed and stumbled upon a daily dose of creative goodness from Sharon Burton.  I always look forward to seeing Sharon’s posts pop up- they are full of inspiring ideas, people, quotes, and images to nurture our creative spirit.  Sharon recently founded Spark Your Creative to help others discover and strengthen their creative gifts.  Sharon posted an encouraging invitation to think about scheduling Artist Dates for the new year, something she already practices and shares weekly. I thought to myself, “I want to do this!” and make a 2018 commitment to taking creative field trips and going on artful adventures- on my own and with others on and offline. I started to brainstorm some ideas….. with regular creative activities and practices I want to do more of, as well as new possibilities and experiences that I would like to do/try/enjoy over the next 12 months:

1. Art exhibits: In 2017, I had the amazing opportunity to experience Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room- The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away at The Broad when I was visiting Los Angeles.  This summer, six of Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Rooms are coming to the Cleveland Museum of Art. This is definitely a must do local creative field trip in 2018! Is there an exhibit or artist you want to see this year?

Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrored Room @ The Broad, Los Angeles (2017)

2. Visit studio spaces.

3. Saturday Art Nights- with one of nights dedicated to playing with alcohol inks and watercolor on Yupo paper.

4. Take an art class.

5. Have an art movie night.

6. Organize my creative space and art materials, supplies- I realllly need to do this.

7. Blog more- One of my social media goals for this year is to begin regularly blogging more again! I’m trying out this editorial blogging journal to help support content, planning, and scheduling.

8. Replenish my magazine photo collage stash- I always find the process relaxing and inspiring! Made some progress on taking time to do this already! Doing another paper stash swap this year would also be fun!

9. Take a visit to Michael’s with my new giftcard. I would like to venture out for a visit to Blick this year too!

10. Take $5 to spend on items to use for an art project at a dollar store.  See how far you can stretch it. (#81 of Julia Cameron’s 101 Artist Date Ideas)

11. Bob Ross Art of Chill Board Game Playing- We recently played this during a Saturday art night and once we got all the rules and concept figured out, it was a fun time….

 

12. Follow, connect to, and be inspired by more art, artists, creatives, and art communities/organizations on social media.

13. Learn a new art technique or media.

14. Discover new artist blogs and revisit my favorites.

15. Organize a local art therapist meet up to hang out, make some art, and have fun together!

16. Create a new creative offering online.

17. Remain socially engaged in arts and art therapy advocacy through reaching out to, visiting with, and building relationships with legislators, policy makers, and stakeholders.

18. Invite spontaneous opportunities for creative connection and mindful moments of creativity!

What kind of artist dates, creative field trips, and artful adventures do you want to take in 2018?

 

2017 Creative Inspiration in Art Therapy, Advocacy, and the Arts

In this post I want to offer some of the silver linings I’ve tweeted or retweeted this year, with attention to the arts, creativity, advocacy, and art therapy.  There have been several positive moments, messages, and accomplishments that I have found hopeful and encouraging… some light among the events and challenges 2017 has seen.

  • The American Art Therapy Association recently published this 2017 review of art therapy achievements in public awareness, advocacy, organizational statements, campaigns, and professional development seen this year on state and federal levels and within the Association;
  • This early 2017 article Creative Collaboration is What Humans Do Best speaks to the power of creativity and imagination to help us proactively and collectively work together on the challenges we experience. This piece encourages us to use our interconnectedness for constructively solving problems and activate successful solutions.  These empowering words were a great read and reminder to help counteract experiences of division and sense of powerlessness or helplessness we may face;
  • This summer I blogged about the US Department of Arts and Culture’s Guide to Artistic Response to Natural Disasters and Social Emergencies as a creative action resource. Also worth bringing attention to are other opportunities on the USDAC site available for art citizens who want to make a social impact with their creative expression.  The next event happening is the People’s State of the Union, an annual civic ritual and participatory art project if you are interested in getting involved!
  • Throughout this year, the Americans for the Arts has blogged on many current topics impacting the arts, artists, and communities, as well as ways for arts advocates to get involved in, support, and how to reach out policy makers and legislators about matters involving social change, leadership, community engagement, arts business, and more. A really valuable presentation I attended at the 2017 American Art Therapy Association conference in November was a legislative advocacy and lobbying information session led by Senior Director of State and Local Government Affairs at Americans for the Arts Jay Dick. This session presented positive ways art therapists can leverage legislator relationships to meet licensure and advocacy goals;

  • Also in November the Americans for the Arts reported that $150 million has been proposed for National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for Humanities funding in 2018.  This news was a huge win for arts advocacy efforts, as it was recommended by the current administration that funding for these vital government programs be completely eliminated. These monies will also continue to fund NEA’s Creative Forces, a military healing arts network, which includes art therapy services for veterans and service members;
  • Art Therapist Lani Gerity’s 2017 blog posts (#157-#171) Out of A Thousand Ways to Have a Happy Artist’s Life series has also highlighted much needed reminders about how the arts, creativity, and imagination can be used to help us be more resilient, kinder, and peaceful when facing dark and unsettling times.

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I wish you a 2018 full of artful abundance and creative spirit…. Happy New Year to you and yours!

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

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.  🙂

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

 Social media is a powerful tool for self expression and engagement of all kinds…giving a voice for many and often a way to cast attention, influence, and respond to causes, values, and efforts we hold dear or reject.

Below are some links I have been reading, saving, and sharing from and on social media recently. Most are rooted in self-care, individual influence and responsibility, and creative community action through the arts. Many offer ways we can effectively activate resources, ideas, and our gifts both on and offline with others (and ourselves) as artists, creatives, mental health professionals, helpers, and human beings.

Self-Care:

Influence:

The Arts, Social Action, and Community Response:

Related Links:

Creative Resilience Link Round Up

20 Creative Quotes on Courage, Hope, & Possibility

Mission Statement Crafting

Recently I attended a retreat where part of the day introduced a closer look at the meaning behind mission statements. A mission statement offers intention and guidance towards ones goals and potential, often empowered by important values and beliefs.  A common practice in organizations and companies is to have a mission statement that helps define and offer focus about what the organization does, its purpose, and values.

Also introduced as a component of self-care during this retreat, mission statements can also be created as a personal declaration that helps define meaning, intentional living, and our own values that guide and empower our work, life, and goals.  It also helps strengthen resilience and compassion satisfaction, especially important for combatting compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatization, and burnout. After reflecting on this practice more, I was inspired to create a mission statement collage to explore this idea deeper.

Before crafting the collage I used a provided template inspired by the work of Covey, Merrill, & Merrill (1997) that offered a series of “it is my mission to” prompts. I also discovered there are a lot of mission statement generators and builders online if you want additional help!

Creating this collage also will serve as a visual reminder to continue reflect on and refine.

It is my mission to

Live mindfully with intention and courage

Work creatively to help others

Continue growing and learning

Love unconditionally

Be grateful, calm, and present

Become open to what unfolds

Believe in humanity and the greater good

Promote hope and possibility

Strive for grace and presence

Seek understanding with integrity

Perseverance and Arts Advocacy

This week the White House unveiled its budget proposal, which included completely defunding and eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts.  This distressing news about the NEA and other programs that champion culture & humanities in the United States have increased art advocacy efforts into high gear to save the arts.

The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) issued this statement about how defunding the NEA will effect clients who receive art therapy services from NEA sponsored programs and includes ways art therapists and art therapy supporters can take action.  Contact legislators and let the US Congress (who approves the budget) to reject this proposed elimination of the NEA.  This action alert from the Americans for the Arts includes an easy way to contact officials and you can also sign their petition to support the arts in America. The Atlantic, in its news piece The Real Cost of Abolishing the National Endowments for the Arts, states that “this kind of work can and should be bipartisanand cites Second Lady Karen Pence’s interest in raising awareness for art therapy as her official cause as an example.

Art Advocacy Day in DC (tomorrow and Tuesday, March 20 & 21) will be an important opportunity for art communities, organizations, and advocates to come together to share and showcase the critical role the arts has in everyone’s lives. The AATA is again one of the partnering organizations supporting these efforts.

 Learn more about the arts wide reaching impact in this NEA video:

Here in my home state, the Ohio Arts Council released this statement from Executive Director Donna S. Collins which offered hopeful considerations to keep in mind during these challenging times, including these words:

“We are nowhere near the end of the road for the NEA or public support of the arts… Stay calm, remain strong, and be confident. The NEA has weathered these types of debates before, and together, the arts community will persevere.”

Additional Reading:

NEA Chairwoman Jane Chu | NEA on Facebook

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