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! 🙂
It is with great enthusiasm that I share this co-authored paper : Online art therapy groups for young adults with cancer published this week via Arts & Health. It was a pleasure to help out with the original pilot for this project with the awesome team of art therapists Kate Collie, Mady Mooney & Sara Prins Hankinson to explore internet based platforms w/ digital and traditional art-based approaches:
Background: This study was the final phase of a participatory design (PD) project aimed at developing professionally led online art therapy groups for young adults with cancer.
Methods: We invited seven professionals with a range of relevant expertise to take part in a PD process that emphasized hands-on creative interaction. Each participant experienced one or more online art therapy sessions and provided feedback that we analyzed with qualitative thematic analysis.
Results: The analysis yielded six inter-related themes representing three types of experience (comfort, sense of connectedness and expression) and three types of therapeutic action that supported these experiences (facilitation, group support and dialog about the art).
Conclusions: The results assured us that our newly developed mode of psychosocial support was ready for online delivery to young adults with cancer. The results provided insight into therapeutic processes in online art therapy groups, especially with regard to collective meaning-making and sense of connection.
Collie, K., S. Prins Hankinson, M. Norton, C. Dunlop, M. Mooney, G. Miller and J. Giese-Davis (2016). “Online art therapy groups for young adults with cancer.” Arts & Health: 1-13.
In the project’s initial pilot, we met online over the course of many, many months through a closed chat room we accessed, as well as a private discussion board where we would post different art directives for our group to work on. During the course of this project each of us would rotate between facilitator, participant, and helped with evaluating the online tools and arts-based methods we were testing.
Some of the directives we participated in used traditional art media and art-making (mandalas, dollmaking to name a couple of my favorites!) either on our own or we created our own images at the same time together, then uploaded our art to our discussion board for further exploration as a group. Other directives we engaged in used online or digital art-based tools, such as Pencil Madness, ArtRage, Polyvore, artPad and more. Often we would schedule a group chat where we could come together to process the directive and experience of exploring these programs and approaches using computer technology. We also had fun with group video chats through Skype and Google Hangouts.
From the experimentation we did and evaluated together, this work helped inspire and inform what would become an online art therapy group that Sara would led for young adults with cancer.
It’s been a pleasure and privilege to work with this tech savvy & creative team! It’s been great to have the opportunity to try out and learn different ways of making art and working together through technology. It’s also exciting to see how this groundwork can then be applied to facilitating online art therapy group work.
I hope you’ll learn more about the results of this project through checking out our paper. Free access is still available for the first 50 downloads of the paper available here. For those individuals who are members of the American Art Therapy Association, a benefit of your membership also includes complimentary access to Arts & Health, where you can also have free access to download the article. Log into AATA’s Members Only section to learn how to access Arts & Health!
With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching soon, this time of year is particularly meaningful to create handmade items to give honor and appreciation to what we are thankful for. This week I am introducing some of my groups to making a gratitude garland as a way to explore this theme.
I am keeping the garland construction simple: I’ve cut strips from 12 x 12 patterned scrapbook paper (different colors, designs), hole punched the ends to tie together with twine (rather than just stapling or using double sided tape- which is OK too!) to begin the making of a paper chain. Before tying the ends of the twine together, I wrote a list of what I am thankful for this year on the one side (which will become the inside) of the paper chain link.
Each chain link can also include an attached tag as a way to label with a significant word, quote or individual’s name. Letter stamping and using other rubber stamps to simply embellish can come in handy!
For a group offering, garlands can be made together formed by individuals contributing their own paper chain link(s) to the collective piece or individuals can work on their own garlands in the same group space. I also think adding an exchange of gratitude strips among group members would also be fun and add to a group’s supportive intention.
The benefits to engaging in a gratitude practice are many. Of course there is the wonderful byproduct of increased joy and compassion, but to also purposefully recognize what we hold appreciation for can help strengthen adaptive coping and empower a here and now awareness that we do have control over in our attitude, behavior, and actions with ourselves, others, & our experiences.
my online continuing education course (6 CEUs!) with the National Institute for Trauma and Loss (TLC)This week I am looking forward to speaking to Group Process students in Ursuline College’s Art Therapy and Counseling program about facilitating trauma focused art therapy groups. As I work on preparing the content I’ll be sharing about my work, I am inspired to share what I have come to love about doing groups- especially as an art therapist and trauma consultant, the benefits, and how this format is valuable when doing trauma informed work.
Group Work Loves:
I definitely admit that group work has its challenges and complexities associated with meeting each member’s needs and creating a safe, cohesive, & therapeutic space for expression of emotions, thoughts, & experiences. However, groups are a really amazing setting for individual members who are managing a common experience related to trauma or a loss to come together in support of one another and provide validation they are not alone. The support that peers provide can be so nurturing and empowering related to coping, acceptance, and a sense of belonging.
Creating art together, sharing materials, the creative space, and created art expressions further strengthens opportunities to explore interpersonal skills, boundaries, and nurture the importance of relational enrichment.
My favorite part of group (other than the art-making!) is to introduce (and practice!) techniques related to supporting regulation and relaxation through deep breathing, focusing, guided imagery, movement, and more. When I first introduce this to new members it is sometimes met with anxious laughter or hesitation, but often it’s something that pretty much everyone ends up really enjoying. It’s awesome when that shift from a heightened state of arousal starts to give way to being in a calmer and safer moment. I love the times where I can witness everyone breathing in unison while we take 10 minutes to calm our minds and bodies before engaging in the group’s art directive.
Most of the trauma focused groups that I offer to youth or adults have a structure of predictability and consistency built into its format. This helps with decreasing feelings of anxiety and empowers the group member with a general awareness about what to expect.
As part of my ongoing re-organizing and inventorying of my work & creative space, I spent some time going through my collection of children’s books that I commonly use in group work (as well as individual sessions) with school aged youth (ages 6-12) and pre-school aged children. Many of these books I have had for years, purchased at trauma conferences, and have found really helpful to introduce a theme or topic that we will be working on before beginning the art intervention.
Here are some of my favorites and how I like to use them with art making in the groups I’ve done over the years:
Hands Are Not For Hitting– I like to use this book with younger kiddos, between 4-6 years old to help discuss helpful and & kind ways we can use our hands instead of choosing to be hurtful. Often the story is followed by the children in the group tracing their own hands, decorating them with crayons or markers to include with the many ways we’ve discussed about how their hands can be used in positive, respectful, and non-violent ways.
A Place for Starr: A Story of Hope for Children Experiencing Family Violence– This book tells a young girl’s story about her mother, brother, and her leaving their home of domestic violence to the safety of a shelter. The book is now out of print and any available finds are quite expensive to purchase, but if you come across an affordable copy somewhere, I recommend it highly! I am super thankful to have a copy for my collection- I have found this book helpful for opening up discussions and art-making around the experience of coming to a shelter.
Is It Right to Fight? – The content in this book looks at aggression & anger from a variety of perspectives such as bullying, fighting between adults, war and prompts the group/child with questions to explore decisions, situations, and ways we can manage our anger or conflicts without fighting & violence.
When I’m Feeling…. series – This series features 8 different books about the feelings scared, sad, jealous, happy, loved, kind, lonely, & angry in very simple & short illustrated stories, which is great to use with young children to explore emotional themes. When we’re going to work on something like Worry Dolls, the When I’m Feeling Scared book is a helpful introduction to learn more about or normalize the feeling.
My Many Colored Days– This book is another favorite of mine: I love the images and descriptions of emotions associated with the different colors– My favorite is the green, calm & cool fish! Lots and lots of possibilities for art-making to promote emotional expression inspired by this classic Dr. Seuss book! Check out this PDF resource supporting social emotional development using a variety of arts based and hands on activities with this book.
Just Because I Am: A Child’s Book of Affirmations: I mostly use this book with young children as a way to instill not only how all feelings are OK, but that our thoughts, bodies, and who we are, is important to respect as well. This book goes really well with drawing images or pictures around the theme of “who am I?” or “this is me!”
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me– Maya Angelou’s amazing poem meets the awesome art illustrations of Jean-Michel Basquiat in this very inspiring book that tells the story of fearlessness and resiliency. The narrative from these pages sets a great foundation to do some art-making about our strengths and supports.
Courage– This children’s book I’ve used not only in my professional work to introduce what courage is to the youth I work with, but it has also inspired my own creative work! It’s a great story for adults to be reminded about too and both children & grown ups alike can benefit from creating Couarge Coins!
When I Grow Up– I initially bought this book at a local toy store in Chicago many years ago because I really liked the creative illustrations with black and white photographs of children’s faces, but then fell in love with it’s entire concept surrounding the cliche question: What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? Instead of focusing on the typical answer of an occupation or vocation, this book suggests another thoughtful perspective (and fun pictures) such as growing up to be brave, adventurous, generous, imaginative, curious, optimistic, patient, & more. It’s a great book to explore how we feel about ourselves (and future selves), as well as how we want to treat others.
Trauma & Loss:
Both of these books below are really valuable to help introduce what trauma is, trauma reactions, and learning how to manage traumatic stress through an animal character based story. After reading and having a discussion about the book, I often invite kids to create art expressions about what they think happened in the story.
What Does Peace Feel Like?– This is my favorite book in this section…. The content prompts children to use their imagination and explore their senses about what peace looks, feels, smells, tastes, and sounds like. It’s fun to have kids draw one of the senses symbolizing peace to him or her! Just like the book, I’ve seen that often peace often tastes a lot like ice cream! 🙂
The Peace Book– A great introductory book to start exploring simple, but meaningful ways that we can bring peace to others & the world around us! I like to prompt group members to think (and create about) what peace means to them as an individual, in our group, to others they know (at home, school, their neighborhood), and what peace means globally in the form of a flag,, shield, or mandala.
Relaxation & Self-Regulation:
These two books share lots of different ways for kids to calm their minds and bodies in the face of stress. Often before it’s time to make art, I like to take time to pause for a little bit of quiet time in the group, where we focus on breathing, movement, and more:
I hope this list and ideas were helpful! A lot of books listed above are linked to one of my favorite resources, The Self Esteem Shop, who supports trauma informed work through carrying many of these children’s books and more. I hope you will check some of them out, or if you use them already (or others!) share your experiences below!
Over the last few months, I’ve been researching and collecting different sensory based activities and ideas (mostly on Pinterest) to support self-regulation and creative ways to foster relaxation in children & adolescents. My long term goal is to create some kind of comfort kit that includes a variety of these hands on tools that I can use in my group work with school age youth impacted by trauma.
For more information about self-regulation, trauma, and children, check out these posts:
I’ve started to move from the “collecting ideas phase” to the “making & experimentation phase”, embarking on trying out these ideas myself to see how they might work.
My first self-regulation comfort kit accessory I’ve started to work on and play with is a Relaxation Bottle. I became inspired by this idea through discovering this helpful post. I thought this type of relaxation bottle could be a soothing and fun way for group members to calm their minds and bodies, as well as help bring their attention to the here and now through focusing on the inside of the bottle.
I gathered these simple supplies: A plastic bottle, extra fine glitter, glitter glue, and clear tacky glue.
Then I followed these steps to make my prototype:
Fill the plastic bottle 3/4 full with hot tap water
Add glitter glue, loose extra fine glitter, and about half a bottle of clear tacky glue
The combination of the glitter glue and clear tacky glue creates a sparkly solution for the fine loose glitter to gently dance in. It is important the water you use to fill the bottle with is hot, as this will melt the glitter glue and will prevent clumping inside the bottle.
Group members could first release some physical energy through helping shake the bottle and then watch the glitter slowly settle to the bottom of the bottle. Discussing the impact of this activity in relationship to the youth’s body and awareness of sensations they experienced would also be interesting to learn more about (and express through art!).
A helpful final touch will include making sure the bottle’s cap is permanently attached with some kind of superglue to keep the solution from getting out!
Having done this first test run, I think my next attempt will try a slightly smaller plastic bottle (it would be cool to have individual bottles for each group member to use), as well as include more glitter glue to make the solution inside a little thicker (I used a smaller sized bottle), but overall… the relaxation bottle idea was fun to make and I think will make a great addition to the toolkit I’m creating.
I will keep you posted on other self-regulation comfort kit accessories I try out as this experimentation phase continues!
I’ve been gearing up for art therapy fall happenings and goings on that I’m looking forward to this year… Lots of good stuff on the calendar! Check it out:
This week begins the first day of Art Therapy Studio I that I’ll be teaching for Ursuline College’s Art Therapy and Counseling Program. I’m very excited to meet the students and work together throughout the fall semester exploring concepts about the creative process, developing their unique self-expression, and symbolic language through art. This course engages students in tons of personal art making in and outside of class, as well as time to reflect about their identity as an artist, which I believe is so essential in the on-going work of an art therapist. Students will be creating a portfolio of work, exploring artist mentors, and telling their own path as an artist through digital storytelling to help facilitate this discovery.
In October I’ll be visiting Mount Mary University in Milwaukee again to teach a week-end class about Art Therapy Interventions and Strategies with Survivors of Domestic Violence. Content related to group work & appropriate themes, using art to help re-establish safety, build resiliency, manage traumatic stress, as well as art’s role to empower a visual voice in trauma intervention will be explored. I’m grateful to have this opportunity to spend time with Mount Mary’s art therapy graduate students and to share my experiences over this 3 day offering.
Also in October, I’ll be attending the Illinois Art Therapy Association Conference (October 26), Collective Rekindling: Healing Narratives in Art Therapy being held at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Keynote Speaker for this conference is Dr. Lani Gerity, which is so perfect for the conference theme! As part of the conference, I’ll be presenting a workshop on Art Journaling’s Visual Voice in Trauma Intervention. This hands-on workshop will explore the use of art journaling as a safe, contained space for processing emotional expression, promoting self care, and sharing ones personal narrative and intentions. Content will include themes and the benefits of art journaling as a visual voice and means of trauma intervention with youth and women survivors of trauma. Participants will engage in creating their own mini art journal with mixed media to identify and support their own professional self-care practices and intentions related to working with trauma & loss issues.
I am also grateful to be included in this year’s Assembly program again. I am presenting a morning workshop on the Assembly’s last day: Peace Begins with Me: Creating Peacemakers through Creativity. This workshop will feature my art therapy work with youth exposed to domestic violence, bullying, and relational aggression who have been introduced to peacemaking concepts through art and the creative process. The role of art in peacemaking, conflict resolution, and bullying prevention will be explored. Art interventions, sensory based approaches, therapeutic books, and group work around this topic will also be presented and an art experiential for the group setting introduced.
Inspired by my work with and the mission of Peace Paper, over the last few months I have been incorporating handmade papermaking with some of my art therapy work with youth who have been impacted by trauma and loss.
One way we used the transformative process of papermaking over the last few months included expressing some of the emotional burden of experiencing or witnessing someone being bullied. Youth ages 6-12 created and then tore up images and hurtful messages about bullying to destroy in a blender for pulping. The pulp from this was then used to form new sheets of handmade paper that would become decorated as Peace Flags. The process of destructing the negative & re-constructing it into something positive was really powerful. The Peace Flags also served as a visual reminder and a way to dialogue about how each of us can choose to engage in peaceful and less hurtful behavior with one another.
Below is a short video I created about this process:
If you’re interested in learning more about the papermaking steps I implemented, feel free to check out this DIY Papermaking How-to Sheet that you can save, download, or print out through SlideShare:
When I started working in the social services field over 15 years ago, my first job was as a residential care youth worker. The unit I worked on included 10 pre-adolescent boys struggling with severe emotional and behavioral needs as a result of abuse, early childhood abandonment, and neglect. One of my first memories of beginning this new adventure was introducing purposeful and structured group time focused on general art making for relaxation, positive interaction, and self-expression. The programming was well received by the boys, my co-workers, and agency administrators, so much that they wanted more. This setting is eventually where I was fortunate enough to start my art therapy career, have the opportunity to develop the agency’s first art therapy program, and start to better understand some of the benefits and challenges related to group work within a partial hospitalization program.
Fast forward about nine years later when I transitioned from the residential treatment setting to work in a shelter with youth impacted by domestic violence, as well as work within a bereavement program with grieving children and teens, where I started to learn more about and become better skilled at trauma informed group work. A lot of this experience was obtained through great support and supervisors I was lucky enough to have in these settings, as well as the commitment I made to become certified as a Trauma Specialist and Consultant through The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children (TLC).
I am very grateful that during the last eight years I have been able to serve and focus most of my art therapy work on trauma informed groups for helping at-risk children and adolescents, whether this includes youth in crisis from exposure to domestic violence, adolescents in foster care, children and teens in shelter coping with homelessness, or grieving youth who have experienced traumatic death loss.
Inspired by this journey, I am excited to announce my new online course , Group Strategies & Interventions with Traumatized Children and Adolescents. To learn more and register, check out information about the course here being offered through TLC. My course focuses on the benefits and considerations important to facilitating group work with traumatized youth and introduces participants to themes, sensory based activities, therapeutic books, games, and creative interventions to implement in the group setting with traumatized youth.