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?
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.
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.
Multi-Traditional Art Therapy: Invoking All of Our Ancestors: An excerpt of Dr. Potash’s 2019 keynote address to the Buckeye Art Therapy Association describes how rediscovering art therapy history, particularly overlooked early art therapists of color, reveals diverse theoretical and practical applications.
Last month I attended the annual NEO National Human Trafficking Day Conference hosted by The Renee Jones Empowerment Center. This yearly offering always is a valuable offering for mental health professionals, educators, advocates, law enforcement, and healthcare workers to gain important information and community resources about the realities of human trafficking in NE Ohio, prevention, programs, and services.
This year’s conference focused on many trauma informed topics and here are a few of the resources I took away from parts of the day:
Law Clinic– Case Western Reserve University law student Mercedes Gurney presented about the topic of her research, re-victimization of survivors and how criminalization of prostitution fails victims. Victims are coerced by perpetrators into prostitution and other illegal acts that they are often arrested for and charged with. You can learn more about the criminalization of human trafficking and issues victims face from this article and the Trafficking Victims Advocacy Project. When recovering survivors attempt to re-enter back into the community and start a new life, this legal trail of offensives and history of convictions can significantly and negatively impact employment, housing, and other aspects of recovery. This article, What Happens When a Human Trafficking Victim is “Rescued” also speaks to how re-traumatization can take place after someone leaves their trafficker and the lack of trauma informed care available to meet their needs. Ohio’s Safe Harbor Law allows victims of human trafficking to receive help for their criminal past and obtain legal services that would expunge and remove any previous convictions. This process creates a clean slate for survivors without their past impacting their ability to get a job, schooling, housing, or have a negative influence on future goals and opportunities. A portion of Mercedes’ presentation however, introduced the realities of expungement in the digital age and how physical criminal records can be erased and sealed, but there is no affirmative legal duty to update electronic information that becomes available through the Internet on websites, databases, digital newspapers, social media, media forums, or search engines. This means that someone’s expunged past criminal history (or even arrests where charges were dropped or unsubstantiated reports) can continue to live online for anyone who does a Google search for the individual’s name, such as an employer, landlord, etc. As we know, removing or regulating content published on the Internet is very difficult.
To learn more about digital expungement and rehabilitation, watch this video below:
Resources available in Ohio to help survivors with expungement and legal services:
Trauma Informed Care– A presentation by SANE Nurse and Coordinator Kathleen Hackett from University Hospital’s Rainbow Babies & Children offered attendees an overview of trauma informed care and what this means in regards to treatment. She highlighted the importance of viewing trauma as an experience (what happened to you? vs what is wrong with you?) that has an impact on the survivor’s entire well-being and how we can be trauma informed in our work through realizing, responding, recognizing, and resisting:
Realize: Awareness to trauma reactions as normal reactions to abnormal situations and the effects of these responses emotionally, physically, cognitively, and behaviorally.
Respond: Implementing a survivor approach that respects not only trauma as an experience, but that this experience is unique to each person, including any cultural, historical, or gender related ways of coping. Trauma informed responding also is aware the immense importance of safety, safety planning, and establishing safety as a core foundation to treatment. Trauma informed care also includes validating and empowering survivors towards recovery and healing.
The entire conference was a full day of knowledge…I continue to learn more about the complexities of human trafficking, services and programs available, and effective, trauma informed ways victims and survivors can receive help, hope, and healing. The next program offering I am looking forward to attending is the 2nd Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Youth Prevention Summit on March 23 at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. State Representative Teresa Fedor (District 45-Toledo) is again bringing students together from around Ohio to be a part of discussions about self-esteem and health, social media, legislation and highlight the role of students and young people in the fight to end all forms of trafficking. I will be helping offer an art experience for youth attendees to use creative expression as a form of advocacy and awareness against trafficking. Looking forward to another day of learning and awareness….
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.
This early 2017 article Creative Collaboration is What Humans Do Bestspeaks 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.
I wish you a 2018 full of artful abundance and creative spirit…. Happy New Year to you and yours!
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.
Learn more about the arts wide reaching impact in this NEA video:
Here in my home state, the Ohio Arts Council released this statementfrom 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.”
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.
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.
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:
Students were introduced to the work and travels of Peace Paper, its history and mission to collaborate with the art therapy community, and a variety of examples about how papermaking can be used with many different populations- especially in relationship to trauma, loss, & recovery, as well as bring awareness to issues related to mental health, sexual assault, and bullying.
Students made lots of paper over the course of the workshop– probably at least 150 sheets (!) and experimented with pulp printing, double couching, and book binding. Paper was first made using Peace Paper’s Hollander Beater from meaningful articles of clothing or a piece of fabric that students brought and wanted to transform into paper… as a new beginning or as an act of letting go of something. Students also were introduced to DIY papermaking without the use of a Hollander, to explore adaptable options in the art therapy setting.
What a great couple of days making paper with this group!
This week I was grateful that I was able to attend the 6th Annual North East Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium organized by the Renee Jones Empowerment Center (RJEC). This day full of learning and information spotlights the serious realities of human trafficking in the NE Ohio area, including programs, services, and resources available to victims and survivors, as well as the role of awareness & prevention. Below is a brief summary of the day, which included a lot of content about youth & human trafficking:
The day kicked off with the Symposium’s Judicial Track, which included information presented by Bianca Smith who serves as an Assistant Bailiff for Juvenile Court in Cuyahoga County. Her presentation focused on the County’s Safe Harbor Pilot Project. This project supports Ohio’s Safe Harbor Law that was passed in 2012 and includes, but not limited to offering treatment-based diversion programs for youth trafficking victims, stiffer charges & sentences for convicted traffickers, and training among law enforcement about human trafficking. In the County’s Juvenile Court, the project is helping to identify youth that can be helped from the pilot project, collaborating with area agencies, such as the RJEC and others to meet programming needs and provide a continuum of care that is trauma informed.
The Symposium’s next track focused on a new program that has been launched by RJEC this year called Men of Purpose. This pilot project includes a partnership with the Ohio Department of Youth Services at the Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility. This weekly program offers training sessions on human trafficking awareness and prevention to young men, as an effort to address and reduce the demand of human trafficking. The young men involved in this project presented an overview of what they have learned, its outreach impact with their peers, and what boys and men can do to prevent human trafficking. Last month I was able to meet these remarkable young men to see the programming & facilitators Sheldon Lovejoy & Matt Goins in action, when I visited to speak about art therapy and group work facilitated at RJEC. It’s great to see the success of this programming and dealing with a component important to breaking the cycle of human trafficking.
The Symposium’s Law Update included information about Ohio’s human trafficking laws presented by Maureen Kenny, Professor of Law with the Case Western Reserve School of Law. As a result of new human trafficking laws in the state of Ohio, more services, training, and data collection is taking place- especially in the areas of Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Lucas counties.
Maya Simek, Director of Programs at the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland provided content for the Symposium’s Treatment & Programs track, introducing awareness and advocacy for LGBTQ youth and young adults and in relationship to human trafficking risks and vulnerability.
Another very valuable track to the Symposium includes allowing Survivors to share their story and journey of recovery. Rachel Kasik, a Survivor Speaker for RJEC, shared her experience with the audience through a powerful visual timeline that used photography.
The Law Enforcement track featured Detective John Morgan from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department and highlighted the role of police involvement. This summer, MSNBC did filming in Cleveland for their series Sex Slaves: Fighting Human Trafficking, which chronicles the front lines of law enforcement’s fight to stop human trafficking, create a better understand of this crime to stop it, and how victims can escape from it and seek help & recovery.
The Symposium concluded the day with an overview behind the economics behind human trafficking presented by Matt Goins and an Agent from Ohio’s Investigative Unit for the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Kim Bartholomew. They offered attendees an awareness about the twisted commodity influence behind human trafficking within the US and internationally, including the trafficking of youth victims. This video the presenters showed provided a perspective into this dark reality:
A mission of RJEC’s Project Red Cord includes offering services (including art therapy!) and resources to prevent teens from becoming victims of human trafficking. An upcoming event to support this effort includes the Center’s 1st annual Prevention and Awareness Teen Summit scheduled for next month. This free event will be a day of information & empowerment presented in a creative way to arm and equip teens with knowledge and prevention strategies that will help protect them from becoming a victim.
I am excited that part of the Summit will include community art-making with art therapists to help strengthen the teens’ sense of self & give a voice to their hopes & dreams for the future. There will also be lots of other opportunities for creative expression such as music, dance, poetry, performance, and more! An artful and meaningful day of advocacy & empowerment is planned. Pre- registration is required and can be done by contacting Traci Grasso at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to RJEC and all of this year’s Symposium speakers for this valuable day of learning!
It’s taken me a couple of weeks to decompress and get into gear again after attending the 2015 American Art Therapy Association Conference in Minneapolis, but I wanted to share some of the memorable moments from the week– it was a schedule full of learning, presenting, re-connecting, meeting new faces, & inspiration that was well spent.
Here’s my Top 10 Memorable Moments (in no particular order):
1. The Art Therapy Parade of awesome pioneer and inspiring art therapists that was creatively handcrafted by the Local Arrangements Committee for the Opening Session. Wow– this was great!
2. Temple Grandin’s Keynote on neurobiological functioning & information processing. Dr. Grandin offered an inspiring lecture highlighting the sensory based value of art-making & creative expression with visual and “bottom up” thinking- and its unique role in helping make sense of information and experiences. Learn more here from her book “Thinking in Pictures”. Really enjoyed the opportunity to meet Dr. Grandin as well!
3.So many great educational sessions to take in, not enough time to see everything! Honorable mentions include the Edith Kramer Legacy and Decolonizing Art Therapy: Social Justice & New Paradigms of Care Plenaries.
4. Tribute to Don Jones with Art is Life is Art by Bruce Moon- Earlier in 2015, the art therapy community mourned the passing of Buckeye Art Therapy Association Founder and all around amazing art therapy pioneer Don Jones. During the AATA conference there were special moments to celebrate Don’s life and important contributions to the field, which also included being one of AATA’s co-founders and early President. Highlights from Art is Life is Art reviewing Don’s life was a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to Don’s spirit, life, and work among a community of friends & colleagues who miss and cherish him so much!
5. Mary Tyler Moore Statue- An offsite break to Minneapolis’ Mary Tyler Moore Statue was a must go to site after a day of conference attending- only a few blocks away.
7. Standing room only @ our paper making panel about trauma & transformation and work with Peace Paper- Many thanks to everyone who was able to attend and to my panel colleagues! It was great to share our experiences and the therapeutic uses of paper making as part of the conference program– and see all the interest in this process! Thank you to Drew & Margaret who gifted us with hundreds of sheets of limited edition handmade paper especially made for conference attendees to take home with them.
8. Creative Deed 365 Minneapolis– I’ll be sharing more soon about this artful event as part of my monthly posting about this 365 project, but this was definitely a fun part of my conference experience this year— leaving creative deeds, receiving creative deeds, and seeing the discovery of creative deeds by other attendees. 🙂
9. Arts & Crafts Marketplace– The Marketplace was packed full of wonderful handmade goods and art by art therapists available for purchase! I scored much creative goodness with buying a series of Lani Gerity’s morning pages (yay!):
10. Time to Refresh & Renew- Spending time in presentations, making art, meeting up with friends & colleagues, as well as making new connections and taking in all things art therapy was great to be around on many levels. All the collective work and service that continues to be done on behalf of art therapy is inspiring to take in and be a part of.
In wrapping up this post, I’ll leave with this Edith Kramer quote and featured in her legacy plenary session:
“Making art is my destiny- art therapy is my beloved profession.”