In February, Mindy and I are also teaching an all-day, online workshop as part of the Expressive Therapies Summit Singular Sessions inspired by our article. Join us on Saturday, February 25, 10am-5pm EST for this 6-credit continuing education offering.
Participants will explore key concepts surrounding the role of creative destruction and transformation through the lens of altered book making. This will include dismantling the book’s pages and reframing intentions within a safely contained construct. As we take this metamorphic artistic journey, this workshop will spark your creative spirit through extensive art making, embellishing methods, and group discussion. Case material will be shared to demonstrate the value of the create-destroy-reform process. To register,visit hereto learn more.
How have you used concepts of creative destruction and transformation in your art or therapy practice?
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.
This week Dr. Bruce Perrywas 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:
Relationships are more important than any adversity. Multiple adverse circumstances or experiences can be buffered by the healthy, positive relational connection in our lives.
We live a relational driven life- our relationships with others impact us the most.
The nature and number of healthy, positive relationships we have is key to our resilience, healing and recovery.
Human beings are relational creatures and our behaviors, actions, feelings, and experiences are contagious to others.
A trauma informed community and relational milieu is a healing community.
Relational health = the degree of our internetwork of connectedness (Relational Poverty vs. Relational Wealth)
Communication is all about rupture + repair, disconnection + connection — it is essential to explicitly acknowledge our differences, assumptions, implicit biases to build relationships.
Therapeutic dosing and therapeutic spacing is important to provide tiny, repetitive doses of engagement, distancing, then re-engagement to support change.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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!
Coming in 2018: An online Facebook book discussion group for readers ofThe Art Therapist’s Guide to Social Media! An opportunity for art therapists, art therapy students, and other interested readers to dialogue weekly about each chapter of the book. A great way to spend the cold, winter months at the warm keyboard of your tablet, mobile device, or desktop! So get your copy ready to join the group (any or all!) beginning January through March 2018 every Sunday 5:00-6:30 pm EST. Tell your colleagues, classmates, students, and friends (off and online!). Sign up here through the site’s contact form if you are interested in a group invitation to participate!
Chapter 1: Introduction to Social Networking and Social Media
Chapter 2: The Challenges and Benefits of Social Networking
Chapter 3: Social Media, Art Therapy, and Professionalism
Chapter 4: The Value of Digital Community for Art Therapists
Chapter 5: Strengthening the Art Therapy Profession through Social Media
Chapter 6: Social Networking and the Global Art Therapy Community
Chapter 7: Social Media and the Art Therapist’s Creative Practice
Chapter 8: 6 Degrees of Creativity
Chapter 9: Future Considerations: Social Media and Art Therapists
Routledge is also having an end of the year sale of all its book titles, which includes a 20% discount of The Art Therapist’s Guide to Social Media if you still need to purchase a copy in time for the discussion group! 🙂
The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) has started to release a series of videos, Art Therapy in Action, that features credentialed art therapists talking about their work with a variety of populations, settings, and topics. This series of interviews describe “how the unique and integrative properties of art therapy can enrich lives, support personal and relational treatment goals, address community concerns, and advance societal and ecological change”. If you are interested in learning more about how art therapists work, these videos offer a great look into the different approaches, applications, and ways art therapy can be facilitated.
Some of the videos already released include interviews with art therapists who work with:
Children in Hospital Settings
Individuals in the LGBTQIA Community
Veterans and Military Service Members
Older Adults and Memory Care
Prisons and Correctional Settings
Cross Cultural Projects and Communities
I am honored that I was also able to contribute to this series, participating in an interview about art therapy and trauma with art therapy colleagues Cheryl Doby-Copeland and Juliet King:
Over the last month I have been sharing a weekly interview series featuring different art therapists and how they use the power of the Internet and social media in relationship to sharing their work with others, professional development, nurturing creativity, cultivating community and more. It has been so fun to chat with everyone– many of the conversations have had crossover themes and topics, but at the same time uniquely different! I definitely recommend checking out and listening to the interviews- lots of inspiring reflections, resources, and experiences!
Below is my top 10 list of great takeaways inspired by this series:
Even though the Internet and world of social media can seem soooo big- online communities, social networking sites, and groups create amazing opportunities for us to easily connect to others that share similar interests…. or can introduce us to new experiences and resources— no matter where we live!
Activate your online experience! While there is a lot of value in obtaining and connecting to information shared in digital groups, communities, and virtual spaces- don’t be afraid to reach out to others, respond with feedback or questions and share your own experiences with others.
Connecting with other art therapists online helps strengthen relational support and decrease isolation, especially for those in private practice, who work independently, or interested in expanding their professional community.
Social media is a great tool for sharing our enthusiasm and drive for educating others about the field, art therapy, promoting services, and the work of art therapists.
The amount of knowledge, resources, and information available at our fingertips makes researching information about art therapy, how to become an art therapist, and special interests so easy and accessible. Lots of great resources were shared and recommended during each interview!
You don’t have to use every social networking platform out there. You can manage your resources and time on social media with platforms that best fit you. Pacing yourself to develop a professional presence on different platforms over time can also be a helpful strategy.
For many of the art therapists I chatted with, social media has been an inspiring place to connect with other artists, art-making, and art communities. Social media has helped positively motivate personal creative expression and art practices.
Creating a social media strategy for sharing content can be an effective way to stay engaged and committed to ones professional digital presence.
Blogging is a great way to share what inspires you, connect with others, and take stock about your work as an art therapist and artist.
Everyone can contribute something valuable for others to learn from and be inspired by– you don’t have to be an expert, early adopter, or technology guru to start!
Thank you to Carolyn, Petrea, Rachel, Lani, Theresa, and Jade for sharing their thoughts and experiences in this series. I am also honored and so excited to include their work and many others in my forthcoming book.
In addition, if you are planning to attend the 2017 American Art Therapy Association conference in Albuquerque New Mexico, this November I will be offering an Advanced Practice Course, The Art of Creating a Professional Digital Presence on the conference’s first day. If this topic interests you, the course presents practical content about how art therapists can create a strong professional digital presence through the use of social media. Participants will be introduced to strategies and considerations for cultivating a presence online that aligns with ones professional work, passions, values, and career interests.
Discover ways an individual art therapist’s digital presence can positively impact the art therapy field at large;
Learn strategies to use for professionally sharing content on social media;
Identify approaches that social networking can help create or enhance a professionally focused profile or activities for art therapists.
Exciting news! I am thrilled to share that my forthcoming book and labor of love, The Art Therapist’s Guide to Social Media is now available for pre-order! I have so enjoyed putting together content for this book over the last couple of years and super look forward to it coming into the world this fall (expected publication date October 2017) and sharing it with everyone. Its contents combine two of my professional passions over the last couple of decades: art therapy and the use of technology to foster connection, community, and creativity for art therapists and beyond! It is an honor and privilege to offer this contribution to the art therapy community.
The Art Therapist’s Guide to Social Media offers the art therapy community a guide that addresses content related to social media use, its growing influence, and the impact social networking has on the profession and work of art therapists. This book presents a framework of relevant theories, best practices, and examples to explore existing and emerging areas of social networking’s power for art therapists as practitioners and artists. Divided into three sections that highlight the themes of connection, community, and creativity, chapters explore timely topics such as the professional use of social media, ethical considerations, potential benefits and challenges, and strategies to embrace the possibilities that social media can create for the field worldwide. Art therapists in training, art therapy educators and supervisors, and practicing art therapists will find content in this text helpful for their learning and professional practice. Learn more about its contents here.
The book’s publisher, Routledge is currently having a sitewide sale for a limited time: all single books are 20% off (plus free shipping!). Pre-ordering is also available on Amazon. I have also created spaces on the web easy to receive updates on future news, events, & fun happenings inspired by the book. Subscribing is available on the web or through liking on Facebook.
I am also looking forward to launching the interview series, Art Therapists on the Grid coming soon this summer…. fun conversations with art therapists about how they use the power of social media… Stay tuned for more! 🙂
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