The Art of Relationships in Trauma Informed Work

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:

Notes inspired by Dr. Bruce Perry, Cleveland 5/15/2018
  1. Relationships are more important than any adversity. Multiple adverse circumstances or experiences can be buffered by the healthy, positive relational connection in our lives.
  2. We live a relational driven life- our relationships with others impact us the most.
  3. The nature and number of healthy, positive relationships we have is key to our resilience, healing and recovery.
  4. Human beings are relational creatures and our behaviors, actions, feelings, and experiences are contagious to others.
  5. A trauma informed community and relational milieu is a healing community.
  6. Relational health = the degree of our internetwork of connectedness (Relational Poverty vs. Relational Wealth)
  7. Communication is all about rupture + repair, disconnection + connection — it is essential to explicitly acknowledge our differences, assumptions, implicit biases to build relationships.
  8. Therapeutic dosing and therapeutic spacing is important to provide tiny, repetitive doses of engagement, distancing, then re-engagement to support change.

Check out this Child Trauma Academy Resource of many of the slides and content presented during this training.

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!

 

Related Posts

Reflections on Art Therapy, Trauma, & Group Work

Top Ten Takeaways : PEP Symposium Dr. Bruce Perry in Cleveland (2013)

Top 10: Impact of Trauma and Neglect on the Developing Child with Dr. Bruce Perry (2012)

Gratitude Round-Up: Creativity, Resilience, & Well-being

I thought today would be a nice time to re-share some of my favorite archived blog posts about gratitude, creativity, resilience, and well-being. I enjoyed re-visiting these and I hope you will enjoy this round-up too:

These posts continue to guide me about the importance of having a gratitude practice and the role of creativity in helping support and express what we are thankful for– especially in times of uncertainty, stress, or conflict. Not just today or when times are tough, but beneficial for our well-being everyday.  A wonderful opportunity for us to activate daily creative practices with an attention to gratitude.  🙂

Creative Resilience Link Round Up

Creative Resilence | creativity in motion
make&do 365: Resilient Insights

I’ve put together a round up of recent links and posts that highlight the role of creativity in managing challenging times, finding hope, and empowering resilience. I hope you find them as inspiring and helpful as I have.  As I was reading these posts over the last couple of months, they have been comforting messages about the importance of creative expression to make sense of new shifts, uncertain moments, and distressing times. They have also been amazing reminders of the power art and creative expression hold to connect us to our voice and each other.

On this day, I am grateful for all of this.

 

Creative Resilence | creativity in motion
make&do 365: Change Agent: Artful Entry

 

Creative Resilence | creativity in motion
make&do 365: Creative Evolutionists

3 Good Things Takeaway: Creative, Messy, Contained Workshop

I had a great time at Lani Gerity‘s workshop this past week-end at the Mid Atlantic Play Therapy Institute: Visual Art Journaling for Teens and Adults in Treatment: Creative, Messy, and Contained.

creativity in motion

The day was an artful exploration of resilience building, flourishing, intention setting, strength reflection, and lots of creative goodness to fill our handmade art journals that we made from hanging file folders, basic manila file folders for the signature pages inside, and a simple pamphlet stitch to bind it all together.

3 Good Things Takeaway: Creative, Messy, Contained Workshop | creativity in motion

I really enjoyed using the various supplies I brought in my mobile art stash– as well as sharing them with my tablemates so they could experiment with them in different ways. It was very inspiring to work in this community. We even did a table exchange of mini art in the form of artist trading cards, index cards, and craft tags to honor the concept of art as a gift, one of Lani’s prompts to explore practicing kindness and sharing joy with others through our art.  I was lucky to be gifted this art from Mary during our table exchange:

creativity in motion
Art as a Gift

 Upon returning home, as I was unpacking my supplies, handouts, and art from the workshop, I reflected on Lani’s teachings from the day prior and the power of art making to help us cope in distressing and challenging times.

This reflection also prompted me to summarize a list of 3 good things (so many to choose from!) from content introduced during the workshop- and ways to help instill hope, gratitude, and self-care into our lives:

  • Three Blessings Exercise– Dr. Martin Seligman suggests this practice as a way to foster well-being and decrease depression.  This exercise encourages us to make note of three things (for one week) what went well throughout our day and to reflect on why they went well (i.e. “why did this happen?”). According to the research of Dr. Seligman, focusing (and dwelling) on our blessings (what is good, going right with life) helps increase our well-being and decreases anxiety, depression that dwelling on bad events can actually make a lot worse. Lani puts an art-based spin to this exercise by suggesting to create art about three good things (collectively in one image or in separate images).  In one of Lani’s Happy Artist’s Life Workshops a few years ago for 6 Degrees of Creativity I even made a Pinterest board to collect images and content inspired by things that made me happy.  Re-visiting this board made me thankful that I created it— and maybe it is a good time to start adding to it again.
  • Daily Creative Practice– Citing the work and practice of art therapy pioneer Edith Kramer, Lani shared that creating art everyday helps guide skillfulness (mastery). This type of practice has a direct connection to nurturing our resilience, regulation, and inspiring us to be and do the best that we can.  I love that this reminder was included as part of the day’s offerings- and very much agree with these findings!
  • Sensory Relief Art- This prompt (originally to create an image representing a mini vacation and to incorporate the senses) inspired a collage that was connected to the importance of self-care, focusing on the here & now, and finding refuge & breathe in this space. I used a photograph of an old collage I created, pieces of torn (blue) magazine pages, distressed ink, and paint pens. Lots of relief in this image!
3 Good Things Takeaway: Creative, Messy, Contained Workshop | creativity in motion
Self-Care © 2016 gretchen miller

Thanks to the Lani, all the participants I met at the workshop, and the small group of fellow art journalers that I worked with throughout the day.  I look forward to incorporating content we learned into my groupwork and adding it to my art journaling ideas and inspiration.

Related Posts:

Happy Artist’s Life Art Journaling (VIDEO)

The Art of Emotional Resilience

Journey to Resilience: Takeaways and Creative Offerings

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Hot Chocolate Adventures in Cleveland

Hot Chocolate Adventures in Cleveland | creativity in motionBack in November, my friend Lori and I decided to take on this Hot Chocolates to Try in Cleveland Top 10 List published by Scene Magazine.

Over the last 5 months we’ve paused our days to meet up almost every other week to take on one of the destinations featured (with the exception of Angel Falls Coffee Company in Akron, which we chose another Cleveland stop instead). Not only do I loooove drinking hot chocolate to keep warm in the winter, I’ve really enjoyed this adventure as a catalyst to slowing down, enjoying good company  & conversation, as well as a great reason for me to get out and about more during these cold, exhausting months to visit some familiar places and get to know some new ones.  Every stop was worth the trip!

This week-end Lori and I finally enjoyed our 10th stop, bringing this hot chocolate tasting tour to a close. Below are my reflections, rankings, and take-aways from each stop we made throughout our chocolate journey:

Hot Chocolate Adventures in Cleveland | creativity in motion
Root Cafe, Lakewood

The Root Cafe in Lakewood was an early December stop on this adventure.  I’m pretty sure I have had the Root’s hot chocolate before when meeting there for special projects and work stuff, but this time I was taking in the experience through our hot chocolate challenge taste buds.  I would suggest trying the Mexican Cocoa (Lori’s choice!) with cinnamon, cayenne, and vanilla for a kick in your cup!

Hot Chocolate Adventures in Cleveland | creativity in motion
Blackbird Baking Company, Lakewood

Mid December was our trip to Blackbird Baking Company, (also in Lakewood)!  Blackbird’s hot chocolate had a dark chocolate taste to it, which I think prepared me up for future stops on our agenda!

Hot Chocolate Adventures in Cleveland | creativity in motion
Fear’s Confections, Lakewood

Another Lakewood destination, Fear’s Confections kicked off our tour in November right before Thanksgiving.  I loved  the gourmet homemade cinnamon marshmallow that came in my hot chocolate!  Yum!

Hot Chocolate Adventures in Cleveland | creativity in motion
Civilization, Tremont

 In mid January, Lori and I took on a Hot Chocolate Double Header and did two tastings in one day! Sugar high! One of those stops was at Civilization in Tremont, where I enjoyed this mug of chocolate goodness….Definite bonus points on the ranking system for whipped cream!

Hot Chocolate Adventures in Cleveland | creativity in motion
Dewey’s, Shaker Heights

The finale of our adventure took place at Dewey’s in Shaker Square, which was a super comfy and inviting place to enjoy our creamy hot chocolate next to their fireplace!  This cocoa was cinnamon good!

Hot Chocolate Adventures in Cleveland| creativity in motion
Bonbon, Ohio City

In January, we also visited Bonbon Pastry & Cafe in Ohio City who served up a really good cup of milky hot chocolate with friendly service… I also left a couple of my Creative Deeds there for finding on my way out!  🙂

Hot Chocolate Adventures in Cleveland | creativity in motion
Chocolate Bar, Downtown Cleveland

Towards the end of our tour, we visited Downtown Cleveland’s Chocolate Bar, which was a.maz.ing.  With a hot chocolate menu of over 10 flavors, it was hard to choose just one.  We went with our server’s recommendation of the “Extra Dark” for the absolute chocolate experience and it did not disappoint, topped with thick whipped cream, chocolate stick, and shavings.

And here’s my Top 3:

Hot Chocolate Adventures in Cleveland | creativity in motion
Sweet Moses, Gordon Square Arts District

Sweet Moses Soda Fountain and Treat Shop in Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District was our first stop after the New Year started, and the first and only tasty hot chocolate on the tour that came with whipped cream and a marshmallow square!  Yes!  I reeeaaallly enjoyed their vintage hot chocolate recipe and their overall drink presentation was classic!

Hot Chocolate Adventures in Cleveland | creativity in motion
Phoenix Coffee, Ohio City

Our stop to Phoenix Coffee in Ohio City was a super snowy day in early February, which was perfect timing for hot chocolate drinking and worth braving the snowbanked street parking— this heaping cup tasted awesome! Phoenix also receives an honorable mention for the best looking hot chocolate on this list!  And…. this came with a separate cup of real whipped cream for my perfect hot chocolate drinking experience….Win, win!

Hot Chocolate Adventures in Cleveland | creativity in motion
Lilly Handmade Chocolates, Tremont

We added Lilly Handmade Chocolates as a random substitute and part of our Tremont Hot Chocolate Double Header in January and boy, I am glad we did!   Wow— their Signature Drinking Chocolate, an European Style blend of milk, dark, and white chocolate with cream and Aztec spices was sooooo creamy good and rich.  It tasted like old fashioned chocolate pudding, hot off the stove in liquid form.  Even without whipped cream I adored it and savored each drop-! Love!

This challenge was so much fun! Thanks to all the places we visited throughout this winter and to Scene Magazine for the inspiration– a great way to support and get to know more local businesses in Cleveland area neighborhoods in the spirit of hot chocolate drinking!  And support some emotional resilience related to the winter around us….

Image: Keep Calm Studio
Image: Keep Calm Studio

Now that our hot chocolate adventure has ended, Lori and I are seeking a tasting tour for the spring/summertime that we can embark on next.  I’ll keep you posted…. 🙂

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Related Posts:

Hot Chocolate Savoring & Creative Pausing

Creative Deed 365 January Offerings

Firewalk Inspired Smashbooking

Values, Virtues & Vision: Creative Exploration into Covenant Caregiving Continues

I’ve slowly been working on the altered book I started for exploring the theme of covenant based care giving.  Here are some work in progress photos:

Values, Virtues & Vision: Creative Exploration into Covenant Caregiving Continues | creativity in motion

Values, Virtues & Vision: Creative Exploration into Covenant Caregiving Continues | creativity in motion

Values, Virtues & Vision: Creative Exploration into Covenant Caregiving Continues | creativity in motion

Values, Virtues & Vision: Creative Exploration into Covenant Caregiving Continues | creativity in motion

Values, Virtues & Vision: Creative Exploration into Covenant Caregiving Continues | creativity in motion

I’ve been using a lot of acrylic paint on the raw surface of the chipboard page that I’ve stripped of its glossy coating and its former life of a children’s board book. Over the dried acrylic paint I’ve also been using some white colored pencil.  It’s been a super liberating process.

Each of these beginning pages are forming a visual pledge connected to my professional and creative work… to instill, engage with, and honor.

Live creatively.

Continue the journey.

Believe in art.

Be resilient.

*******

Related Posts:

Journey to Resilience: Takeaways & Creative Offerings

Exploring Covenant Based Caregiving with a Creative Twist

Self Care through Creative Practice & Intention: Vulnerability

 

 

 

Inspiration from the 2014 TLC Childhood Trauma Practitioner’s Assembly

It’s been a super busy last couple of weeks and I am grateful within that time I was able to schedule in attending a day of the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children’s Annual Childhood Trauma Practitioner’s Assembly.

One of the workshops I attended was facilitated by Nora Stanger  and focused on overcoming childhood trauma through reframing experiences, exploring & discovering life purpose, as well as the connection of foundational values and personal leadership in finding that calling.  Check out Nora’s TEDx talk Embrace Your Past…. Define Your Future (8:39) to learn more about her powerful, inspiring story of post traumatic growth:

On reframing, Nora shared these four steps (also available here in handout form):

  • Acknowledge and Apply Your Strengths- What personal strengths can you bring to the situation?
  • Find & Use the Positives- Using your strengths, how can you make the situation better?
  • Accept the Uncontrollable- What parts are not in your control? What are you willing to give up?
  • Focus on the Controllable- What can you control (thoughts, feelings, actions)?

Reframing invites a different way of seeing the experience and challenges us to explore our beliefs about the situation and to change or reverse its meaning.  This perspective can help us manage the experience better and from a strength-based and empowering mind set.   I was super happy that this workshop also included shout outs to the pioneering positive psychology work of Dr. Martin Seligman and his site authentichappiness.org.

On life purpose, Nora discussed how looking beyond ourselves and situations helps discover, give voice, and action to the bigger meaning and calling of our existence, no matter what our past and circumstances.  She cited the work of Dr. Bill Millard and his Life Calling Model, which outlines a series of values rooted in character, faith, and service connected to our strengths, passion, and experiences to explore life purpose. Foundational Values are at the core of our being and helps form the way we think about the world, ourselves, and others. Our values are the basis of our choices (Millard, 2012).

I was inspired by Nora’s content and these presented models not only in relationship to my work in trauma with survivors, but as another addition to  covenant based caregiving that I learned about last month.  More inspiration and awesome ideas for transforming this stuff into altered book form!  Thank you Nora!

Also at the TLC Assembly, I was able to present a workshop on art journaling, trauma intervention, and self care, which was a nice way for attendees to end the week.  This part lecture/part art-making workshop explored the use of art journaling as a safe, contained space for processing emotional expression, promoting self care, and sharing ones personal narrative and intentions related to trauma work. Content also included themes and the benefits of art journaling as a visual voice and means of trauma intervention with youth and women survivors. The group engaged in creating their own mini art journal with paper bags with mixed media to help identify and support their own professional self-care practices:

Inspiration from the 2014 TLC Childhood Trauma Practitioner's Assembly | creativity in motion

Inspiration from the 2014 TLC Childhood Trauma Practitioner's Assembly | creativity in motion

Inspiration from the 2014 TLC Childhood Trauma Practitioner's Assembly | creativity in motion

 It was such a pleasure to work with this group! Thank you to everyone who attended!

You can check out all the photos from the Assembly’s great week via TLC here. 🙂