Posts Tagged ‘resiliency’

Ecopsychology, Self Care, and Creative Practice

February 25, 2018

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:

If you are interested in learn more about the role of ecopsychology in art therapy and burnout, check out this True Calling podcast, Art Therapy, Ecopsychology, & Curing Chronic Burnout with Registered Art Therapist Lanie Smith or her post, Nature as a Portal to Self: How Eco Art Therapy Can Help You Reconnect and Heal.

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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.

Self care compass- oil pastels, paint sticks, markers on craft paper | Leah, Skyla, Jessi, Lacey, Gretchen, 2018

My 2013 art journal about self care as an art therapist and trauma practitioner was also on display at the exhibit, focusing on themes related to gratitude, affirmation, strengths, and mindfulness in connection to facilitating trauma informed care. It was so inspiring to see all the works of art and creative expressions that filled the gallery in the spirit of the exhibit’s focus.

Self care through creative practice project | gretchen miller, 2013

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.

Related Links

Self-Care through Creative Practice & Intention: Affirmation

Creative Action Link Round Up: Self-Care, Responsibility, Community

Exploring Covenant Based Caregiving with a Creative Twist

Journey to Resilience: Takeaways & Creative Offerings

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Self Care through Creative Practice & Intention: Gratitude

May 21, 2013

This past week-end I was inspired by Susanna (thank you!) to finally put the brown paper wine size bag she gifted me to good use for a new art journaling project. I wanted to discover how re-purposing this type of bag for creating an art journal would be different from the common paper bag technique I usually use.

Brown Paper Wine Bag Journal

Susanna graciously sent one paper bag already gessoed…which made starting this mini art journal even easier. (step 1 done!) I gathered some handmade paper, a bone folder, some twine, my SMASH cutter & scissors, as well as a paper punch to put it together.

Brown Paper Wine Bag Journal Opened

With the paper bag flat on the table, I folded an insert of the handmade pages to place in the center. Then I folded the sides of the bag towards the middle and over top one another, which created the book’s cover.  The open edges of the bag (on the right side I used my SMASH cutter to open the bottom of the bag) create cool pockets for discreetly stashing stuff in.

Brown Paper Wine Bag Journal Front

I used a paper punch and twine to bind the pages and book together. To start, my paper insert has enough pages for 5 spreads, but lots of room to add more. The concept of this art journal is dedicated to my self-care, especially in relationship to my trauma work as an art therapist.

This miniature book will provide a safe space to explore important considerations to keep myself grounded and refreshed in my work through intention, mindfulness, gratitude, positive affirmation, and of course: creative practice.

Gratitude: Self Care Journal Page

Trauma Stewardship- Page 223: Finding Balance | Gratitude

It was very cool to see this week’s 14 Secrets Challenge focused on gratitude, which was on my brain for a spread in this journal. Check out Lani’s post for lots of “focus-shifting for our peace of mind” encouragement and helpful prompts. Practicing gratitude is definitely part of my self-care to help me keep centered.

After reading Lani’s post I quickly cracked open Laura van Dernoot Lipsky‘s book Trauma Stewardship, headed for the index to look up gratitude and promptly flipped to page 223 to re-read Laura’s reflections about how this practice is an important part of creating balance in our life and work.  I included a copy of page 223’s text in my art journal and then created this image:

Gratitude Journal Page 2

I am grateful for painfully beautiful things (in people, moments, choices, changes) that help us all discover what truly matters

I started with an “I AM” SMASH cookie note to visually inspire me to think about what I am grateful for, especially in context to this quote from page 223 about the pain that exists in this world: “Remind yourself that while the suffering may seem endless, so is what we have to be grateful for…“. Struggles can become reframed with intention to discover moments of thankfulness within the experience and help us grow.

My response to this quote and the image I created above was to be grateful for the painfully beautiful things (in people, moments, choices, changes) that help us all discover what truly matters. I am also grateful for co-workers, friends, significant others, & family in my life that help support me in discovering this, as well as the women and children I work with.

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I enjoyed using this kind of paper bag to begin this new art journal- especially with the inclusion of pages and how the bag serves as a comforting cover wrapping around them. I’ll continue to add to this self care art journal, its pages, and cover with additional content and inspiration to keep sharing with you!

Ohio Department of Mental Health Art Display : Youth Exposed to Domestic Violence

October 1, 2012

Earlier this year I was invited by the Ohio Department of Mental Health (ODMH) to display some of the art from youth that I work with in individual and group art therapy at the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center (DVCAC).  ODMH showcases quarterly art displays from various programs and consumers from around the state in their Columbus office at the James A. Rhodes State Office Tower.

According to the ODMH website, ODMH “works to assure access to quality mental health services for Ohioans at all levels of need and life stages”.   One of ODMH’s core beliefs is a commitment to Trauma Informed Care, as well as the Resiliency of Youth.  Check out both of these links on the ODMH website to learn more and access their recommended resources.

The display from DVCAC runs October 1 through December 31 and features art expressions from children & adolescents who have been impacted by domestic violence and are involved in group or individual art therapy through DVCAC’s community-based outreach program. Art on display explores themes related to safety, resilience, emotional expression, domestic violence prevention, and managing trauma stress. Art expressions include collage, drawing, painting, handmade papermaking, paper house making, and mask making.  Click on the image below to download a flier [PDF] about the display.

The timing of this exhibit’s start is also aligned with October being recognized as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Look for related DVAM posts to be featured here on Creativity in Motion throughout this month, as well as resources about domestic violence collected on my trauma informed pinterest board.

If you are in the Columbus area over the next three months, take a moment to visit ODMH and this display.  My appreciation to the youth who participated through sharing their art, feelings, and a part of their life to empower their own voice, as well as bring awareness to others about their experience.

Mindful Studio Practice Continues: 2 Weeks Strong!

September 24, 2012

Mindful Studio Practice Creative Work Space

I just finished Day 14 of my artist trading card adventure with Hannah Klaus Hunter’s Mindful Studio Practice. I thought I would continue to share the art and my reflections from this journey with you here. This past week presented a lot of emotional expression, truthful perceptions, and challenges for me as I created each ATC inspired by Hannah’s prompts and beautiful quotes.

Day 8 : Simplicity Within Blessings

Day 8‘s prompt and ATC left off at the previous day’s practice of stripping things down. I started to notice on this day that simplifying my chosen theme of “Blessings” was a beginning to clarity.  I was surprised how easy it was to create and feel connected this ATC. I experienced a deep sense of calmness and acknowledgement about simplifying and synthesizing things down.

Day 9 : Seeds Planted-Blossom

When I started reading Hannah’s “Be the Bud” inspiration for Day 9, I remembered that some of the dictionary words I cut out (but didn’t use) during Week 1 included text about blossoming, flowering, and the concept of seeds being planted, their growth, and feelings of gratitude. This ATC absolutely reflected my feelings in this moment. I also reflected a lot about Day’s 6 ATC again and the importance of feeling grounded.

Day 10 : Act of Love & Light

This ATC for Day 10 (and Hannah’s quote included on my card) was created on the same day this blog post was published on kind over matter about letting go of againstness. I really reflected on Jo Anna Rothman‘s (Creator of The Receiving Project) concept about change being an act of love (one of my blessing brainstorming words from Day 2) and the Hafiz quote I cut up for placement on this day’s ATC. I reflected in this instant about the “encouragement of light” surrounding me.

Day 11 : ♥ Clarity ♥

I must admit I didn’t follow the art-making prompt for Day 11 and again was captivated by the words and quote Hannah included for this day, which was rooted in the role of judgement.  I had the intentions of generosity, clarity, and radiance on my mind to help lead me in that moment.  

Day 12 : Strength

Day 12′s prompt was about destruction & re-construction and seeing/experiencing old or unwanted things from a different perspective. For me, this ATC explored the dichotomy between things breaking apart, but at the same inner observations about my own strength and vulnerabilities, which are all a part of me and pieces I have appreciation for to make me a better person. It reminded me a lot about what surfaced in Day 3‘s ATC about resiliency.

Day 13 challenged me to take an already created ATC and reflect its opposite to present another perspective/awareness to the theme I am working on.  I chose to take Day 2’s ATC about brainstorming around my theme.  Sitting in the moment with my blank ATC to begin this prompt was really hard to start, but once I did- broken pieces of darkness, emptiness that seemed dead and lifeless was mirrored back to me.  I connected in this moment with my theme of blessings stronger than I ever have, as this ATC reflected back to me a powerful message I needed to pay attention to.

Day 14 : Mindfulness Challenge

Week 2’s prompt ends with working on multiples over the next two days as another way to create a different perspective in the moment around our theme.  I started Hannah’s suggestion of working with squares in a quilt/patchwork style.   I tried to incorporate collage paper pieces I’ve used in the ATCs from the last week for Day 14‘s ATC.  I get to work on this one again tomorrow for the beginning of Week 3, so I’m curious how it might transform!

Being at the start of Week 3 (the last week!) brings a combination of excitement and wonder, as well as a little anticipatory grief about this process being over.  I’ve so enjoyed including this practice into my daily activities. Even on days that are super, super busy I worry if I’ll be able to have the time to sit down and do it. It’s always grounding, affirming, validating, and soooo worthwhile. Thank you Hannah for this constant reminder!

On Resilience, Strengths and Gratitude [Art Journal Pages]

November 1, 2011

I’ve been busy art journaling my way through 6 Easy Lessons for a Happy Artist’s Life and Lesson 2, which focuses on finding your strengths and exploring how strengths can be a source of resilience during difficult times.  Lani‘s second lesson highlights the work of Positive Psychologist Martin Seligman who identified 24 signature strengths and traits valuable to human culture.  Working on this lesson was a really powerful experience for me.  It challenged me to think about hard moments from a strength based perspective and what traits are core to helping me not just cope/survive, but to also thrive.

Here’s a series of spreads showing gratitude to my top 5 strengths (Belief Strengths Test):

Showing Gratitude to My Strengths

Hope

Creativity

Humor

Leadership

Courage

Happy Artist’s Life Art Journaling and More Creative Goodness

October 23, 2011

I have  been working on Lani Gerity’s 6 Easy Lessons for a Happy Artist’s Life, one of six workshops part of 6 Degrees of Creativity and I wanted to share some of my progress so far!

I have decided to focus on each lesson through art journaling and so excited to use a handmade journal I received as a gift a few years ago that was made by Lani:

I am also incorporating my love of Pinterest and Gratitude Wordle Making as lesson companions to help me focus and reflect on all the good stuff Lani’s workshop has to offer.

I started pinning images, words, and phrases on My Good Things Board inspired by my daily good findings and at the end of the week I made this Good Things Wordle:

Good Things Wordle

In my art journal I have my first page done from Lesson One:  a spread focusing on seeing the beauty and good things around you:

Lesson One: Finding Goodness

This past week I started the next lesson focusing on resiliency and celebrating your strengths:

Lesson Two: Seligman's Signature Strengths

I have a few journal pages in the works that I am working on related to my top five signature strengths.  I enjoyed taking some time this week to sew some of these pages’ edges:

Sewing Paper Makes Me Happy!

I am looking forward to working more on this art journal and continuing with Lesson Two this week!

You can learn more about Lani’s work and inspiring offerings focused on positive psychology, resiliency, self-care, and art as transformation at Lani’s Secret Annex.  Here you will fnd a virtual treasure chest of more creative goodness, including Lani’s blogging, e-courses, e-zines, and more!

Resilience and Empathy: The Art of Healing Trauma

August 15, 2011

The 2011 Buckeye Art Therapy Association’s Annual Symposium, Resiliency & Empathy: The Art of Healing Trauma is being held September 30 and October 1 in Dublin, Ohio.  This year’s keynote sponsored by BATA and the Michigan Association of Art Therapy features Cathy Malchiodi who will be presenting an evening lecture and morning workshop on the impact of  resiliency, gratitude, and empathy in relationship to trauma intervention and recovery.  A pre-conference course with Cathy focused on Trauma Informed Art Therapy is also being offered in addition to the Symposium.

This year’s BATA Symposium Program includes additional presentation offerings and workshops on the application and use of art therapy with grief and loss, traumatic brain injury, adolescents,  as well as supervision, social media & ethics, and self-care.  I am especially looking forward to Elizabeth Sanders Martin and Emily Johnson’s workshop on Celebrating Life in Traditions of  the Day of the Dead. 

On Friday afternoon during the Symposium I’ll be presenting Art as a Voice: Art Therapy with Survivors of Domestic Violence which will provide an overview of art therapy with survivors of domestic violence and address trauma informed considerations, common treatment goals, and art interventions to consider when working with battered women in a shelter setting.  Content will be presented on the impact of domestic violence, how art therapy can provide a voice and facilitate support around key issues such as safety, the cycle of violence, and crisis intervention.

For more information about the program, lodging accomodations, and registration download BATA’s printable PDF brochure here.

Post Conference Resources: 2011 TLC Childhood Trauma Practitioners Assembly

July 15, 2011

I just returned from attending The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children’s 2011 Childhood Trauma Practitioners Assembly and wanted to highlight some of the program offerings:

This year’s theme was Trauma-Informed Resilience-Focused Practicesand kicked off with a keynote on The Adolescent Brain by Jeffery M. Georgi. Georgi’s all day offering included a lot content and considerations to better understand the development and structure of an adolescent’s brain functioning, especially related to trauma exposure and substance abuse.  An emphasis on implementing sensory based approaches when working with traumatized teens was highlighted to support that the adolescent brain develops from the “back to the front”. Interventions such as art, music and smell can have a stronger impact on brain functioning, regulation, and control.  You can learn more about Georgi’s work here and check out these recommended book resources here.

Another Assembly offering I attended  that I found helpful for my shelter work with youth and families included Jean West’s workshop about facilitating trauma work with homeless children and adults using TLC’s SITCAP Model. Some  of the resources and ideas offered during this workshop included implementing a trauma informed approach with this population through sensory based interventions and grounding individuals in crisis through the senses to cope with overwhelming experiences, losses, and strong emotional states. Some helpful trauma informed resources and publications recommended during the workshop included information available from the National Center on Family Homelessness.

This year it was a pleasure to conclude my TLC Assembly experience with facilitating a workshop about group strategies with youth exposed to domestic violence.

In addition to having the honor of being a presenter this year, I also want to sincerely thank TLC for including me as a 2011 award recipient for Consultant Supervisor of the Year.   TLC’s certification training, courses, tools and resources have been so very valuable in my professional development and commitment to become a trauma informed therapist and to better help the youth, women, and families I work with who have impacted by trauma and loss.  Thanks to TLC for all their work and dedication to help traumatized children everywhere.

Childhood Trauma Practitioner’s Assembly: Trauma-Informed Resilience-Focused Practice

April 20, 2011

TLC Rubber Duck Safety Art Experience


Registration is now open for TLC’s Childhood Trauma Practitioner’s Assembly being held this summer July 12-15, 2011 in Clinton Township, Michigan.  I’ve attended this enriching and quality trauma conference for several years now and have learned so much from TLC about how to incorporate a more trauma informed approach in my art therapy work with traumatized and grieving youth.  Check out these past posts from the Assembly in 2010 and 2009 to read more about my experiences.

This year’s theme is Trauma-Informed Resilience-Focused Practices and will introduce participants to interventions, programs, tools, and best practices to best help traumatized children. In addition to the Assembly’s keynote featuring Jeffrey M. Georgiwho will be presenting on The Adolescent Brain the program schedule also includes daily workshops and courses for trauma certification.

I am honored to be included as a workshop presenter for this year’s program. On Thursday, July 14 I will be presenting a morning workshop  about group strategies and interventions with youth exposed to domestic violence.  This workshop will focus on strategies and interventions important to facilitating group work with children and adolescents who have been impacted by domestic violence.  Participants will learn practical tools and important themes to consider when working with youth exposed to domestic violence, including the introduction of activities that incorporate sensory-based intervention, therapeutic books, and art expression. Content presented will help participants gain a trauma informed understanding about how these strategies and interventions promote safety, emotional expression, coping, validation, and normalizing related to working with youth from violent homes. Participants will also engage in activities and experientials to enhance their awareness and insight about the benefits of using hands-on and creative interventions in group work with traumatized youth.

To learn more, visit the Assembly’s information pageTLC is also offering Art and Play Therapists a reduced registration fee.  Check out this page to register using the discounted rate.

Art Therapy Group Strategies & Interventions with Youth Exposed to Domestic Violence- Seton Hill University Trauma Conference

March 13, 2011

This week-end I attended Trauma, Recovery, & Growth: Art Therapy & Other Therapeutic Approaches hosted by Seton Hill University, the Graduate Art Therapy Program, and the program’s Student Art Therapy Association. I had the pleasure to present an afternoon workshop focusing on strategies and important themes to consider when facilitating group work with youth exposed to domestic violence.

Part of the workshop included a hands on art experiential where participants were introduced to making paper houses and encouraged to think about and create what makes a house a home & safe. Exploring issues around home in the context of safety planning, safe places, and helping to contain overwhelming feelings associated with worry and fear are important for children and adolescents from violent homes and have been impacted by the terror of domestic violence in their daily lives.

The PDF below includes information and a visual how-to about creating a three dimensional house from a 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper and some simple paperfolding steps. Art expression in trauma intervention can create a safe, welcoming, and non-threatening environment that can support traumatized youth in sharing their story through the creative process and artmaking.  This paper house intervention and the process of paperfolding combines mindfulness elements with the structure of containment to help youth feel safe and explore experiences rooted in trauma and loss through art.

If you are interested in learning more about art therapy with youth impacted by domestic violence, check out some of my presentations here.  Thanks to Seton Hill’s Graduate Art Therapy Program and Student Art Therapy Association for an awesome conference!

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