Implications of National Trends in Digital Media Use for Art Therapy Practice

Implications of National Trends in Digital Media Use for Art Therapy Practice | Journal of Clinical Art Therapy

I am excited to announce that in the new issue of the Journal of Clinical Art Therapy (Volume 3, Issue 1) an article that I co-authored with Girija Kamal, Michele Rattigan, and Jennifer Haddy about digital media and considerations for art therapy practice was recently published.

Abstract: This paper presents an overview of national trends in visual art-making and art sharing using digital media, and, the authors’ reflections on the implications of these findings for art therapy practice. These findings were based on a secondary analysis of the 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts administered by the National Endowment for the Arts. Survey findings indicated that increasing proportions of people in the United States are using digital media for creating, archiving, and sharing their art. Reflections by the authors on these findings include support for increase in use of digital media by art therapists for their own art and the need for research about, and, education on best practices for use of digital media.

You can download the full paper available via open access on the JCAT site here.

Many thanks to Girija for bringing us together to contribute to this publication, as well as JCAT’s Editor Einat S. Metzl and the JCAT Editorial Board for their interest in this topic.¬† ūüôā

Related Posts:

Exploring Internet Based Platforms with Digital Art-based Approaches

The Creative Leader & Creating an Environment for Innovation

Cultivating Creativity, Connection, and Community | TEDx Ursuline College






Reflections from the 2010 TLC Childhood Trauma Practitioners Assembly

I spent a few days this past week at¬†The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children Childhood Trauma Practitioners Assembly held near Detroit, Michigan. ¬†As an art therapist working in trauma intervention with youth and families, attending this annual conference has become important in my professional development and keeping up to date about what’s happening in trauma informed care.

Here’s an overview of my experience this year:

Tuesday’s assembly kicked off with an all day program focusing on supporting children of deployed military parents. ¬†The morning session featured a panel of veterans and military spouses who provided attendees with their experiences and insights about living as a military family and reflections to consider to help families and children cope with the challenges of multiple deployments and other issues this population faces. ¬†The panel also included specialists and therapists working on and off base with military families. Read more about the panelists via this blog post from TLC:¬†Supporting Children of Deployed Parents: Voices of Experience Teach Valuable Lessons.

There were many lessons presented to attendees about what these veterans and their family experienced during service and post-service. ¬†Here’s a brief summary from some of my notes about considerations when working with military families:

  • The impact of a parent’s deployment, or very often multiple deployments. The cycle of being deployed affects the entire family system, including the relationship between spouses, with children, and how the overall family unit functions. ¬† Multiple deployments away from home and longer periods of time that the parent at home is left to function as a single parent also prompts new roles, responsibilities, and expectations. ¬†The hardest part voiced by many on the panel was having to re-adjust and shift gears from ¬†military life to civilian life when on leave or returning from a deployment. ¬†These challenges included adjusting from the hyper aroused state instilled and needed for military work, that was no longer needed when returning back to family life. ¬†Re-integrating¬†into a family routine, structure, and roles that includes both parents was another adjustment to balance and for children to also become adjusted to.
  • When a parent¬†is impacted emotionally or physically with signature combat injuries such as PTSD or traumatic brain injury (TBI), ¬†this also affects the whole family. ¬†The returning parent may not be as they were before their deployment. ¬†Families need resources and services to help cope with these life altering changes.
  • Worries of military families and their children- Often there are worries about the cycle of deployment, ¬†the risks and increased fears associated with each time the parent is away he/she will be injured, hurt, or killed.¬†Children in military families may not openly express their worries, concerns, or feelings to protect the military parent, parent running the household alone, or have a hesitation¬†about who to safely talk to and trust that will understand military culture.

What trauma specialists can do to help was also highlighted during this panel:

  • If working with children of military families and their parents, learn more about military culture and language/terminology
  • Family care plans- A plan of action detailing who will take care of the child(ren) is important for deployed parents, especially around situations with chronic moving and possibly being far away from extended family;
  • A need to expand PTSD services for not just veterans, but also to families and their children to help cope as well;
  • Do not assume that if a child lives on a military base with services that he/she is receiving services. ¬†More resources are becoming available, but families sometimes do not access these and a child/family in need may need referring or advocating for;
  • Groups for youth can focus on creating a safe place and addressing themes around worry, sadness, hurt, anger.¬†Art and creative interventions are non-threatening ways to promote self-expression and coping around these topics.

TLC Founder Dr. Bill Steele and faculty Dr. Cathy Malchiodi facilitated an afternoon session where we each given a mini rubber duck and encouraged to create a safe environment for our duck using art supplies such as tissue paper, magazine photo collage, oil pastels, markers, pipecleaners, stickers, and more. ¬†This is an intervention that they facilitated with children of military families as a way to address themes around worry, safety, and other feelings. ¬†It also provides opportunities for storytelling, which may bring out some of the child’s own experiences and narrative.

My Rubber Duck and His Safe Place

The next day I spent my time in two different TLC workshops: WRITE OUT LOUD: A Journal Experience for Families in the Military facilitated by Dr. Linda Peterson- St.Pierre and Trauma Group for Mothers facilitated by Louise Tamblyn and Val Millson.

In WRITE OUT LOUD!, we focused on a series of writing exercises that could help decrease stress and promote coping skills. ¬†As introduced by Peterson-St.Pierre,¬†expression through words and/or art helps with body regulation and encouraging healthy mind/body functioning. We learned about and spent time writing sentence stems, sprints, character sketches, as well as reviewed cluster writing, writing about memories and making lists of life’s stepping stones, roads not taken, and recapturing lost opportunities. ¬†If you’re interested in learning more, Peterson-St. Pierre has published the book WRITE OUT LOUD! ¬†Helping Military Spouses and Children Cope with Life.

Another great resource presented was¬†Operation Homecoming, Writing the Wartime Experience. ¬†This DVD and book ¬†is¬†“a unique documentary that explores the firsthand accounts of American servicemen and women through their own words. The film is built upon a project created by the¬†National Endowment for the Arts to gather the writing of servicemen and women and their families who have participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan”.¬†I was also thrilled to see¬†The Combat Paper Project mentioned to the workshop group as another example of how creative self expression is helping veterans with healing and coping. Everyone even received a sheet of Combat Paper to use for doodling or for writing during our various exercises.

My afternoon workshop session¬†Trauma Group for Mothers¬†focused on a facilitating a structured group using TLC’s Adults and Parents Workbook and an overview of how the facilitators conducted the group from intake/beginning to evaluation/end. The group included addressing areas such as, but not limited to introducing concepts of trauma to the women, trauma reactions, secondary wounding, relaxation techniques, victim/survivor thinking, as well as identifying worries, strengthening coping, and de-briefing on the trauma that happened through a series of seven drawings. ¬†The information and ideas from this workshop I can incorporate into my group work with women who have experienced domestic violence. ¬†To learn more about this TLC Intervention Program, check out the¬†Adults and Parents in Trauma: Learning to Survive.

Another noteworthy mention and new addition at this year’s Assembly was the display of art work featuring children’s drawings and paintings from the work of Cathy Malchiodi related to topics that can impact youth such as grief, loss, family issues,¬†separation, self-esteem, and the impact of traumatic events such as 9/11.

Children's Drawings & Paintings @ the Assembly

And finally, my attendance at the this year’s Assembly really inspired and energized me to take my own experiences and work related to trauma intervention to the next level and to start thinking about the next steps for completing my Level 3- Certified Trauma Consultant Supervisor credential. ¬†Cannot wait to attend again next year!

The Creative Leader & Creating an Environment for Innovation


rev o' lution for leadership
rev o’ lution for leadership

Here¬†are my first of many thoughts surrounding the topic of leadership and creativity. As I wrote in my rev o’ lution posting a¬†few weeks ago, good leadership is something I want to see, be, and understand¬†more this year.¬†¬†

The article Leadership As Creativity: Finding the Opportunity Hidden Within Decision Making and Dialogue, published by The National Endowment for the Arts was a good read to get me thinking about the qualities of creative leadership and its impact on success, achievement, and motivating others. Author John M. McCann references the work of Malcolm Knowles and his book The Adult Learner, A Neglected Species where eight beliefs about The Creative Leader are identified:

1. The Creative Leader has a positive belief system and outlook about the ability of others to get the job done and step up to the challenge.  

2. The Creative Leader understands the relationship between acknowledging that people are stakeholders and how this effectively influences their level of commitment and dedication to the work that needs to be done.

3. The Creative Leader creates a vision and expectation for success that others will contribute and rise up to.

4. The Creative Leader understands and values the unique contributions of the individual and recognizes that when people are able to work in an environment that empowers their strengths, ideas, skills, and knowledge, they will thrive and create great things.

5. The Creative Leader embraces creativity in others through cultivating, celebrating, and validating its use.  Also important is leading by example and showing others that the power of creativity is essential to surviving change.  

6. The Creative Leader is aware of the power of change and skillful in its management to create new opportunities and possibilities rooted in innovation.

7. The Creative Leader highlights and rewards gratification that encourages success, achievement, responsiblity, and integrity from within.

8. The Creative Leader promotes others to be self-directing and driven.

As I was reflecting on the list, each of the eight qualities towards creative leadership has important value to me.  Many of the examples I can recall when I was empowered by a Creative Leader in my own life applying these principles. Creative leadership has encouraged and taught me to do new and growth producing experiences, have belief and trust in my ideas, direction, and decisions- even in times when I did not even see this yet myself or know what exactly to do.    

I’ve also witnessed and experienced the opposite by working in systems or with¬†individuals¬†in positions of leadership that attempted to exercise control, isolation, micromanagement, and¬† ultimately kill the collaboration and fullfillment that comes with the process of developing new ideas.¬† These experiences have been valuable lessons in helping to identify what I truly need and want in good leadership, and to understand more about what is destructive and damaging towards fostering dedication, participation, and postitive morale in others.

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) and their podcast, Creating an Environment for Innovation, sites three steps that can impact the successful creative growth within organizations:

The Elements of Destruction are Present at Creation– Creative leadership knows how to take appropriate action and is aware of possible inherit destructiveness that can threaten the innovation of the organization.

Soft Values Drive the Organization– CCL describes this as “how the game is played”. Valuing and cultivating qualities such as passion, dedication, and spirit is what fuels the organization’s energy and direction.

Trust is the Means and Love is the Unspoken Word A foundation of¬†trust and compassion are essential to helping the organization face and deal with conflict and problem- if left unchecked this can weaken and slow down the organization’s ability to move forward with new ideas and goals.¬† What is CCL’s idea of love in the workplace? “Love means caring for others, being concerned about their personal and professional well-being and placing a high value on their interests. It means listening and trying to understand their concerns. It means respecting their intelligence and giving credit to their ideas. Loving the people within the organization gives innovation its best shot. ”

Enough said. At least for now…