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:
- 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!