I have chosen two separate paths in my career. One as an artist and one as a mental health counselor. I have always felt that they were very compatible paths. My artistry has influenced my approaches to counseling, and my clients have fed me with inspiration for my artwork.
Lately, however, it seems that the two paths have begun to merge.
Yesterday, I presented for the Recognizing the Impact of Childhood Trauma: Powerful Voices, Practical Strategies conference in Columbus, OH. The event was sponsored by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) Ohio and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) – Ohio Chapter with a grant from the Ohio Department of Mental Health (ODMH). They selected me to present because of my blended interests in the arts and therapeutic treatment of child survivors of trauma.
I want to be clear about this–I am not an art therapist. I am an artist, and I am a therapist, but I have no training in the discipline of art therapy as it is commonly known in treatment communities. I do, however, use creative approaches to therapy (for which I have received training) to enhance my clients’ communication about their concerns.
My presentation entitled, Creative Resilience: Using Creativity for Recovery from Trauma, which included the video above, was about how creative approaches to therapy assist children in processing traumatic experiences. I also talked about how we can utilize creative approaches to educating the community about the effects of trauma so that we can enhance treatment efforts, direct trauma survivors to effective resources to help them, and look at community wide efforts to minimize traumatic events for children.
I spoke about a my work with the Phoenix Picture Project. You can read more about the Phoenix Picture Project and the resulting public artwork entitled “Jesse’s Journey” here.
Here are some of the thoughts that I shared in my presentation:
- Bad stuff happens to good, innocent, normal people.
- Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand – Chinese Proverb
- The bad stuff doesn’t take the good away, it just hides it away for awhile.
- Giving survivors of trauma opportunities to be creative allows the good to re-emerge, and allows for psychological, physiological and spiritual healing.
- Children are amazingly resilient. Like the legendary phoenix that arises from the ashes with resurgent beauty, grace and glory, so too can children recover from terrifying and traumatizing events.
- Involvement of children in creative activities enhances their understanding of the things that have happened to them and helps them become more resilient.
- We want to build spirits, not break them. We want to create new strengths, not destroy old habits. We want to expand the survivor’s understanding and awareness of the world, not eliminate their current perceptions. And we want to engage with survivors, honoring their amazing ability to grow.
I thank NAMI Ohio for inviting me to present at their conference. It was an amazing group of people, and I thoroughly enjoyed the event. The other speakers, Dr. Robin Gurwitch, Monique Marrow, Ph.D, and two courageous trauma survivors who shared their stories were amazing.
It is my hope that I will get more opportunities like this one to speak and share about the creative healing process with community groups.
If you would like BZTAT to speak at your event, please contact her here.
*All artwork represented in the video above was used with permission granted through the Phoenix Picture Project.
**BZTAT, AKA Vicki Boatright is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Ohio. Any opinions expressed are her own and do not necessarily represent the position of her employer. Information provided here is intended solely for the general information of the reader. It is not intended take the place of professional mental health care.
Life is an Adventure!