Archive for the 'resiliency' Category

The Art of Relationships in Trauma Informed Work

May 18, 2018

This week Dr. Bruce Perry was here in Cleveland again (!) and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend his all day training focusing on the Six Core Strengths for Healthy Childhood Development. Inspiring, as always! Much of what he spoke about reinforced the immense power relationships have in trauma informed care. I compiled the notes I took from Dr. Perry’s lecture into some art with a few of (the many!) takeaways I wanted to remember about this topic:

Notes inspired by Dr. Bruce Perry, Cleveland 5/15/2018

  1. Relationships are more important than any adversity. Multiple adverse circumstances or experiences can be buffered by the healthy, positive relational connection in our lives.
  2. We live a relational driven life- our relationships with others impact us the most.
  3. The nature and number of healthy, positive relationships we have is key to our resilience, healing and recovery.
  4. Human beings are relational creatures and our behaviors, actions, feelings, and experiences are contagious to others.
  5. A trauma informed community and relational milieu is a healing community.
  6. Relational health = the degree of our internetwork of connectedness (Relational Poverty vs. Relational Wealth)
  7. Communication is all about rupture + repair, disconnection + connection — it is essential to explicitly acknowledge our differences, assumptions, implicit biases to build relationships.
  8. Therapeutic dosing and therapeutic spacing is important to provide tiny, repetitive doses of engagement, distancing, then re-engagement to support change.

Check out this Child Trauma Academy Resource of many of the slides and content presented during this training.

As an art therapist, I also reflected on how art-making, the creative process, and trauma intervention through art therapy supports relational considerations presented by Dr. Perry.  Art therapy “effectively supports personal and relational treatment goals” (The American Art Therapy Association) through:

  • Creating and/or re-establishing a safe space to explore feelings, responses, and experiences through active engagement in “bottom up” sensory-based intervention that supports lower parts of the brain where trauma resides;
  • Making art together in groups, families, and communities can foster healthy interactions, connectedness, and a sense of belonging that transcends language;
  • Art therapy creates opportunities to explore themes of deconstruction and reconstruction through the art making process and offer insight into internal and external communication, conflict, biases, and relational restoration;
  • The nature of art making with an art therapist offers repetitive, patterned, and parallel action while safely regulating and managing traumatic stress and triggers that could activate ones response system
  • An opportunity to build and strengthen resilience through meaningful art-based interactions and interventions that explore safety, change, vulnerability, and regulation.

Thank you Dr. Perry for returning to Cleveland and another great day of trauma informed learning!

 

Related Posts

Reflections on Art Therapy, Trauma, & Group Work

Top Ten Takeaways : PEP Symposium Dr. Bruce Perry in Cleveland (2013)

Top 10: Impact of Trauma and Neglect on the Developing Child with Dr. Bruce Perry (2012)

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Ecopsychology, Self Care, and Creative Practice

February 25, 2018

Last week was the opening of Tending the Flames: Burnout and Resilience in Helping Professions exhibit, sponsored by Tri-C Gallery East, Tri-C’s Creative Arts and Art Therapy Program, Ursuline College’s Counseling and Art Therapy Department, and the Buckeye Art Therapy Association. The theme of this year’s exhibit is dedicated to how caregivers and helpers use art and the creative process to manage the stress and experiences related to this role, as well as nurture and strengthen resilience.

Part of the exhibit’s opening included a community lecture by local environmental philosopher and Lake Erie Institute Director Dr. Elizabeth Meacham, who spoke to attendees about the role of nature and ecopsychology in helping restore wellbeing, health, and recover from challenging circumstances or pressures associated with taking care of others. Dr. Meacham provided simple strategies to invite a daily nature practice in our lives and work, such as but not limited to:

  • Remembering to take outdoor breaks – go for a walk, visit your favorite nature spot;
  • Find a favorite tree in your environment that you can visit daily and feel, interact with;
  • If you are unable to get outside, have nature objects such as rocks and leaves indoors- pause and take in their sensory based qualities through touch and smell;
  • Tune into and engage your senses through imagery, breath, sound, and smell

If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Meacham’s teachings, check out these resources:

If you are interested in learn more about the role of ecopsychology in art therapy and burnout, check out this True Calling podcast, Art Therapy, Ecopsychology, & Curing Chronic Burnout with Registered Art Therapist Lanie Smith or her post, Nature as a Portal to Self: How Eco Art Therapy Can Help You Reconnect and Heal.

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For this exhibit, my supervision group created a mandala inspired by this year’s theme, working on what we titled a “Self Care Compass”.  Our image included a contribution from each of us about what helps guide our work and self care as art therapists.  Themes of interacting with nature, practicing mindfulness, flexibility, and grounding ourselves in hope and growth were explored in our collective dialogue and expressed in the art we created together.  Self care is an important, ongoing discussion in supervision, whether it is activating ways to take better care of ourselves, balance our daily lives and relationships with our work responsibilities and commitments, stay present and connected, or cultivate compassion satisfaction instead of compassion fatigue.

Self care compass- oil pastels, paint sticks, markers on craft paper | Leah, Skyla, Jessi, Lacey, Gretchen, 2018

My 2013 art journal about self care as an art therapist and trauma practitioner was also on display at the exhibit, focusing on themes related to gratitude, affirmation, strengths, and mindfulness in connection to facilitating trauma informed care. It was so inspiring to see all the works of art and creative expressions that filled the gallery in the spirit of the exhibit’s focus.

Self care through creative practice project | gretchen miller, 2013

If you are in the area and interested in checking out the exhibit, it is on display until March 22 and located on the Eastern Campus of Tri-C in Highland Hills, Ohio. Gallery East is in room 135 of the Education Center and open daily. Call 1-216-987-2475 for more information.

Related Links

Self-Care through Creative Practice & Intention: Affirmation

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

Exploring Covenant Based Caregiving with a Creative Twist

Journey to Resilience: Takeaways & Creative Offerings

The Joy of Bob Ross

January 14, 2018

Last week the classic PBS TV show The Joy of Painting with host and artist Bob Ross celebrated its 35th Anniversary!  The appeal and love of Bob Ross is stronger than ever for old fans and new, with opportunities to binge watch past episodes on Netflix, attend Bob Ross Paint-Along events, and new Bob Ross inspired products and artisan wears to get your daily dose of positivity and determination.

The joys of Bob Ross are many for me:  his calming voice, his words of encouragement and validation as he not only empowers the viewer with how to paint, but with language and experiences inspired by his creative process about life, making mistakes, choices, and enjoying the moment. Bob’s soothing tone, love of nature, and storytelling creates a safe and comforting space of acceptance.  As an art therapist, I find myself sometimes channeling the spirit and referencing the words of Bob Ross with my clients, as an example of how to reframe mistakes, create our world, and be kind to ourselves and others.  Read some of Bob Ross’ inspiring quotes here or watch this fun PBS remix capturing some of his iconic phrases and life lessons while painting on his show.

And…. how perfect it was to be gifted the 2018 Bob Ross calendar over the holidays to be reminded throughout the year of his wisdom and share it with others!  🙂  An inspiring way to launch 2018!

Enjoy more Bob Ross with these related links:

The Life and Story of Bob Ross

Random Joy of Painting with Bob Ross

A Statistical Analysis of the Work of Bob Ross

The Soothing Sounds of Bob Ross

Watch Bob Ross for an Uplifting and Therapeutic Experience

“I can’t think of anything more rewarding than being able to express yourself to others through painting. Exercising the imagination, experimenting with talents, being creative; these things, to me, are truly the windows to your soul.” ~Bob Ross

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

December 26, 2017

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

November 23, 2017

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.  🙂

Perseverance and Arts Advocacy

March 19, 2017

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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2017 Ohio Youth Summit: A Day of Awareness, Prevention, and Advocacy

February 5, 2017

Youth Summit: Awareness, Prevention, and Advocacy | creativity in motion

On Friday, February 3rd I was able to participate in the 1st Annual Ohio Human Trafficking Youth Prevention Summit held in Columbus at the Ohio Statehouse. The event was hosted by Representative Theresa Fedor as an additional event to the 8th Annual Ohio Human Trafficking Awareness Day held in the Capitol the day before.  Over 200 high school and college students from all over Ohio (Toledo, Columbus, Cleveland, Akron, Dayton, Cincinnati, and surrounding areas) came together to become more aware of and advocate for human trafficking prevention.

The agenda for the day was full of inspiring speakers and creative activities aimed at providing education and a message of action to youth about how to get involved in this important issue and learn how to protect themselves and their peers from being at-risk. At the Summit Representative Fedor also introduced a new bill that would help protect 16 and 17 year old youth from human trafficking with this announcement.

Survivors and advocates gave voice to and shared their experiences with students through poetry, music, performance, and panel discussions. This included Poet Quynterra Eskridge, Rapper Archie Green, and national speaker, author, and educator Dr. Elaine Richardson, who performed her one woman show PHD to PhD: How Education Saved My Life.  The day’s events also included a panel moderated by Renee Jones of statewide professionals representing the fields of public health, law enforcement, policy, and juvenile justice.  It was an honor to be included with this very knowledgeable line up to share my role at the Renee Jones Empowerment Center offering art therapy for survivors and at risk teens as part of Ursuline ArtSpace Outreach.

The day concluded with a break out session for students with the University of Dayton and for educators with Abolition Ohio. A valuable resource that was shared for educators and other professionals working with youth to implement prevention programming was this guide published by the Ohio Attorney General.

Youth Summit: Awareness, Prevention, and Adocacy | creativity in motion

A full day of important information, performances, and learning

Also available throughout the Summit was art making that invited students to creatively contribute a pledge hand in response to standing up to human trafficking and bringing awareness- many positive and encouraging messages were created by youth in attendance as part of this project in the Ohio Statehouse Atrium.

Youth Summit: Awareness, Prevention, and Advocacy

Students were invited to contribute to group art pieces.

Thank you to Representative Fedor for hosting this event for the wellbeing of Ohio’s youth and the Renee Jones Empowerment Center in helping with organizing the event’s offerings.  It was an inspiring day full of information, strategies, help, and hope.

For additional resources, please visit these regional and national sites:

Related Posts

Awareness, Prevention, & Recovery Made Visible: 2015 NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium, Project Red Cord, & Teen Summit

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

Creating Hope: NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium

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Creative Resilience Link Round Up

January 20, 2017
Creative Resilence | creativity in motion

make&do 365: Resilient Insights

I’ve put together a round up of recent links and posts that highlight the role of creativity in managing challenging times, finding hope, and empowering resilience. I hope you find them as inspiring and helpful as I have.  As I was reading these posts over the last couple of months, they have been comforting messages about the importance of creative expression to make sense of new shifts, uncertain moments, and distressing times. They have also been amazing reminders of the power art and creative expression hold to connect us to our voice and each other.

On this day, I am grateful for all of this.

 

Creative Resilence | creativity in motion

make&do 365: Change Agent: Artful Entry

 

Creative Resilence | creativity in motion

make&do 365: Creative Evolutionists

3 Good Things Takeaway: Creative, Messy, Contained Workshop

June 14, 2016

I had a great time at Lani Gerity‘s workshop this past week-end at the Mid Atlantic Play Therapy Institute: Visual Art Journaling for Teens and Adults in Treatment: Creative, Messy, and Contained.

creativity in motion

The day was an artful exploration of resilience building, flourishing, intention setting, strength reflection, and lots of creative goodness to fill our handmade art journals that we made from hanging file folders, basic manila file folders for the signature pages inside, and a simple pamphlet stitch to bind it all together.

3 Good Things Takeaway: Creative, Messy, Contained Workshop | creativity in motion

I really enjoyed using the various supplies I brought in my mobile art stash– as well as sharing them with my tablemates so they could experiment with them in different ways. It was very inspiring to work in this community. We even did a table exchange of mini art in the form of artist trading cards, index cards, and craft tags to honor the concept of art as a gift, one of Lani’s prompts to explore practicing kindness and sharing joy with others through our art.  I was lucky to be gifted this art from Mary during our table exchange:

creativity in motion

Art as a Gift

 Upon returning home, as I was unpacking my supplies, handouts, and art from the workshop, I reflected on Lani’s teachings from the day prior and the power of art making to help us cope in distressing and challenging times.

This reflection also prompted me to summarize a list of 3 good things (so many to choose from!) from content introduced during the workshop- and ways to help instill hope, gratitude, and self-care into our lives:

  • Three Blessings Exercise– Dr. Martin Seligman suggests this practice as a way to foster well-being and decrease depression.  This exercise encourages us to make note of three things (for one week) what went well throughout our day and to reflect on why they went well (i.e. “why did this happen?”). According to the research of Dr. Seligman, focusing (and dwelling) on our blessings (what is good, going right with life) helps increase our well-being and decreases anxiety, depression that dwelling on bad events can actually make a lot worse. Lani puts an art-based spin to this exercise by suggesting to create art about three good things (collectively in one image or in separate images).  In one of Lani’s Happy Artist’s Life Workshops a few years ago for 6 Degrees of Creativity I even made a Pinterest board to collect images and content inspired by things that made me happy.  Re-visiting this board made me thankful that I created it— and maybe it is a good time to start adding to it again.
  • Daily Creative Practice– Citing the work and practice of art therapy pioneer Edith Kramer, Lani shared that creating art everyday helps guide skillfulness (mastery). This type of practice has a direct connection to nurturing our resilience, regulation, and inspiring us to be and do the best that we can.  I love that this reminder was included as part of the day’s offerings- and very much agree with these findings!
  • Sensory Relief Art- This prompt (originally to create an image representing a mini vacation and to incorporate the senses) inspired a collage that was connected to the importance of self-care, focusing on the here & now, and finding refuge & breathe in this space. I used a photograph of an old collage I created, pieces of torn (blue) magazine pages, distressed ink, and paint pens. Lots of relief in this image!
3 Good Things Takeaway: Creative, Messy, Contained Workshop | creativity in motion

Self-Care © 2016 gretchen miller

Thanks to the Lani, all the participants I met at the workshop, and the small group of fellow art journalers that I worked with throughout the day.  I look forward to incorporating content we learned into my groupwork and adding it to my art journaling ideas and inspiration.

Related Posts:

Happy Artist’s Life Art Journaling (VIDEO)

The Art of Emotional Resilience

Journey to Resilience: Takeaways and Creative Offerings

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Art Therapy: Finding Help, Finding Hope

May 5, 2016

Art Therapy: Finding Help, Finding Hope | creativity in motion

May launches Mental Health Awareness Month, and today, May 5 recognizes National Children’s Mental Health Awareness (CMHAD) sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) is one of the organizations supporting tonight’s national event in Washington, DC.

In honor of spreading awareness about this day, this week I put up a display of artwork from some of the teens I’ve had in my art therapy groups this year.  Preparing this display and reflecting on this year’s CMHAD theme of “Finding Help, Finding Hope” inspired me to think about it’s meaning and connection to the work that happens in art therapy. So much about the act of making art is about hope. Despite the challenges and experiences the clients I work with are facing, the creative expression that takes place when they are in art therapy provides a life affirming moment in the here and now to share ones self, emotions, and experiences. Their art helps to make sense of, create meaning, or to re-frame what is often so very hard to do with just words alone. For many of the youth I work with, the art they create often helps them discover or imagine a new beginning, a fresh start, a sense of comfort or safety that they long for.  Art making in art therapy offers a place of acceptance, refuge, and support. And as art therapist Bruce Moon reminds us in his book Art-Based Group Therapy: “making art in the presence of others is an expression of hope”. It is a privilege to be able to witness the youth I work with find help and hope through the power of art therapy.

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of art therapy in children’s mental health, check out this post  The Important Role of Art Therapy in Supporting Children’s Mental Health that I did for the American Art Therapy Association last year.

SAMHSA also has free publications you can order and electronic downloads on a variety of mental health, recovery, and trauma related topics for all ages available here.

 

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