This week Dr. Bruce Perrywas 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!
Last month I attended the annual NEO National Human Trafficking Day Conference hosted by The Renee Jones Empowerment Center. This yearly offering always is a valuable offering for mental health professionals, educators, advocates, law enforcement, and healthcare workers to gain important information and community resources about the realities of human trafficking in NE Ohio, prevention, programs, and services.
This year’s conference focused on many trauma informed topics and here are a few of the resources I took away from parts of the day:
Law Clinic– Case Western Reserve University law student Mercedes Gurney presented about the topic of her research, re-victimization of survivors and how criminalization of prostitution fails victims. Victims are coerced by perpetrators into prostitution and other illegal acts that they are often arrested for and charged with. You can learn more about the criminalization of human trafficking and issues victims face from this article and the Trafficking Victims Advocacy Project. When recovering survivors attempt to re-enter back into the community and start a new life, this legal trail of offensives and history of convictions can significantly and negatively impact employment, housing, and other aspects of recovery. This article, What Happens When a Human Trafficking Victim is “Rescued” also speaks to how re-traumatization can take place after someone leaves their trafficker and the lack of trauma informed care available to meet their needs. Ohio’s Safe Harbor Law allows victims of human trafficking to receive help for their criminal past and obtain legal services that would expunge and remove any previous convictions. This process creates a clean slate for survivors without their past impacting their ability to get a job, schooling, housing, or have a negative influence on future goals and opportunities. A portion of Mercedes’ presentation however, introduced the realities of expungement in the digital age and how physical criminal records can be erased and sealed, but there is no affirmative legal duty to update electronic information that becomes available through the Internet on websites, databases, digital newspapers, social media, media forums, or search engines. This means that someone’s expunged past criminal history (or even arrests where charges were dropped or unsubstantiated reports) can continue to live online for anyone who does a Google search for the individual’s name, such as an employer, landlord, etc. As we know, removing or regulating content published on the Internet is very difficult.
To learn more about digital expungement and rehabilitation, watch this video below:
Resources available in Ohio to help survivors with expungement and legal services:
Trauma Informed Care– A presentation by SANE Nurse and Coordinator Kathleen Hackett from University Hospital’s Rainbow Babies & Children offered attendees an overview of trauma informed care and what this means in regards to treatment. She highlighted the importance of viewing trauma as an experience (what happened to you? vs what is wrong with you?) that has an impact on the survivor’s entire well-being and how we can be trauma informed in our work through realizing, responding, recognizing, and resisting:
Realize: Awareness to trauma reactions as normal reactions to abnormal situations and the effects of these responses emotionally, physically, cognitively, and behaviorally.
Respond: Implementing a survivor approach that respects not only trauma as an experience, but that this experience is unique to each person, including any cultural, historical, or gender related ways of coping. Trauma informed responding also is aware the immense importance of safety, safety planning, and establishing safety as a core foundation to treatment. Trauma informed care also includes validating and empowering survivors towards recovery and healing.
The entire conference was a full day of knowledge…I continue to learn more about the complexities of human trafficking, services and programs available, and effective, trauma informed ways victims and survivors can receive help, hope, and healing. The next program offering I am looking forward to attending is the 2nd Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Youth Prevention Summit on March 23 at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. State Representative Teresa Fedor (District 45-Toledo) is again bringing students together from around Ohio to be a part of discussions about self-esteem and health, social media, legislation and highlight the role of students and young people in the fight to end all forms of trafficking. I will be helping offer an art experience for youth attendees to use creative expression as a form of advocacy and awareness against trafficking. Looking forward to another day of learning and awareness….
I kicked off the Assembly with seasoned TLC workshop presenter Jean West who presented great content and considerations about developing a trauma informed community. What I found most valuable about this workshop was learning more about the parts of community collaboration in relationship to trauma work and informed care. From Jean’s lecture and handout, I was inspired to do some mindmapping to highlight important areas such as, but not limited to:
Identifying what individuals, groups, organizations, etc. you need to get involved
How to get them engaged to support trauma informed care
Trauma Champions from your community that can be mobilized to advocate & educate
Become a Trauma Champion: What can you do as an individual to contribute!
I also attended Michele Thompson’s workshop, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to learn more about this approach and its tools related to mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy. In this workshop I took away a lot of resources to explore further and became very interested in the concept of Valued Living, developed by Kelly Wilson and Russ Harris:
Valued living is having a notion about what we want out of life and then making a commitment to ourselves to take action in service of those values. It is the most vital way in which we would choose to live. If we are to truly live a valued life, we will be forever moving in the direction of our values. Values are part of our journey, not a simple destination. Values are not specific goals with an end point, like a bike race or a triathlon. Values are a continuous way of living. (Center for Value Living)
An article co-written by Wilson about Valued Living and ACT can also be downloaded here.
Another TLC presenter I enjoy seeing every year is Kelly Warner and learning more about her trauma work with youth, especially in relationship to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Kelly’s workshop this year focused on interventions and ideas related to group work with adolescents. This included drawing, music, & journaling to explore topics about safety, trust, processing feelings & thoughts about their trauma experience, and strengthening self-awareness.
One of the small group exercises we did included a silent round robin activity with Play Doh where we each took turns creating & adding a symbol or making an addition to a group piece related to the theme of safety.
Secondary Victimization: Hurt by Others, Hurt by Self– Cherie’s secondary wounding workshop also included writing ideas to help trauma survivors cope with feelings of blame, minimization, other’s expectations about their experience, and the hurt and devaluing that surfaces from secondary wounding.
Dialogue Letters: Between now self and then self, between trauma and self
Forgiveness Letters: Forgiving a part, a person, or past choices & behaviors
Wish Poems: Letting go of expectations, what could/should have been
Another good idea from Cherie to incorporate into writing & secondary wounding was the work of Virginia Satir (who I love!) and her 5 Freedoms of Becoming Fully Human. Identifying and writing about “My Personal Freedoms”as a prompt can to help survivor’s reclaim a sense of balance. Great idea!
Attending Laura Serazin’s workshop about her work with the Chardon Schools here in NE Ohio was really helpful to learn more about how making art, drumming, and other creative group interventions helped families and this community cope after the high school’s 2012 school shooting.
In small groups we created Safety Islands (from TLC’s Helping Children Feel Safe Program) which was one of the activities families and survivors engaged in during a workshop they attended at her agency.
And…on the last day of the Assembly, I was excited and honored to facilitate a morning workshop about my work with youth around the topic of peacemaking through creativity, as well as highlighting art’s role in peacemaking, conflict resolution, and social transformation.
It was nice to see some familiar faces, meet new ones, and connect with more like minded trauma specialists during this workshop!
During one of the hands-on activities, attendees participated in a sensory based drawing inspired by Vladmir Radunsky’s book “What does peace feel like?. Radunsky’s creative picture book challenges children to envision peace as one of the five senses. It was lots of fun and a great group experiential to share what peace looks, tastes, smells, sounds, or feels like with one another!
We also spent time creating Peace Flags focused around the theme of “Peace for me, Peace for us, Peace for everyone, and Peace for the world”, the core guidelines & values I try to cultivate in my Peacemaker Art Therapy groups.
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.
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.
I’ve enjoyed not only all the pinning, re-pinning, cross pinning on Facebook or Twitter, board surfing, and connecting, but also understanding more about Pinterest’s potential as an educational, advocacy, and learning resource to visually organize, collect, and share ideas, information, and projects from and with like minded others actively engaged in the community.
I’ve recently added my love of art therapy, community organizing, and social media with The Art Therapy Alliance into my Pinterest activity, as well as my interest in trauma intervention with creating a Trauma Informed board that includes resources, ideas, and finds related to books, projects, organizations, and infographs related to trauma informed care and practice. For me, this board is a nice way to share and organize trauma related information related to my professional work. Click on the board below to check out some of my pins collected so far!
And…. I am still sending out invites to join Pinterest if anyone needs one to get started- just let me know! I would also love to connect to others on Pinterest doing trauma work, so feel free to let me know about this too if you are interested in connecting.
The 2011 Buckeye Art Therapy Association’s Annual Symposium, Resiliency & Empathy: The Art of Healing Traumais 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.
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.
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.