Although I attended many informative sessions and got nice goodies at the vendor tables if I had to choose 1, it would be the topic near and dear to my heart (and prospective dissertation):
How the Art of Art Therapists Informs Their Practice
Panel by: Becky Olivera, MA, ATR-BC, LCPC
Barbara Fish, PhD, ATR-BC, LCPC
Cathy Moon, MA, ATR-BC
and moderator Randy Vick, MS, ATR-BC, LCPC
Quite honestly, I don’t remember what my expectations were before the panelists began speaking because I was quickly swept away by the art. The visual representations of their own explorations, struggles, and achievements were marvelous to behold. Hearing the accompanying stories about what sparked this image, and that sculpture, made it all the more fascinating.
Becky Olivera, used the acronym GREAT in reference to visual expressions:
Grounding - Response - Engaging - Authentic - Teaching
I liked the idea of doing a ‘standard’ art response at the beginning or ending of a supervision session. Say a manageable piece of paper 2x2 or 4x4.
“Art is at the core, we must find ways to keep it there.”
Cathy Moon’s insights were particularly poignant. She spoke about how art therapists strive to fit art into their already busy schedules (wait, was she talking about me?, us at M.E.?). How we strive to bring meaning into our lives and how for her (and a lot of us) art is the glue that helps keep things together. To that end, she began a long-term project, a promise to herself to make art and meaning. I believe she calls it the Intimate Connections Project (this is on top of any other short term expressive task she takes-on).
What: The project: to create hand-held items about loved ones.
How: She obtained 3 containers each representing a different category
1. names of loved ones
3. names of materials
When she wants to create she grabs one piece of paper from bag #1 and 2-3 from bag #2 & #3.
Aim: Cathy aims to make 365 pieces, one for each day of the year. She is also keeping an ‘honest’ journal where she’s documenting what/when she creates, the idea development, relationships, etc. She keeps track of when she doesn’t also.
Furthermore, Barbara Fish voiced something I believe is worth considering for ourselves: “I turn to my art when I don’t know what to do...it’s always been my first language...it parallels my life and my life parallels my art”.
It seems that reflection was true not just for Fish, but for the other panelists and the audience as well. We at M.E. have brought forth suggestions (and will continue to do so) for making art-friendly “spaces”. Keeping small sketchbooks or loose sheets, pencils or pens, any mark-making tool of choice available. Yes, my purses could be lighter and smaller but then, they would not have what I need to create.
With that in mind the CHALLENGE is to further consider how reliable is the time we make for our own visual-self-reflections? and what will we do about it?
I began this mandala while at conference. Intending to illustrate the feeling of coming & going between sessions, life, the mainland and the ferry, school & work, wife and friend, therapist & artist, everything. I finished it the week following the conference and now see in it that I am not alone, there are plenty who get stuck at various intersections or that get bogged down here and there. It ultimately reminds me to take a breadth, see what is, and keep going. Every time I get asked “How do you do it?!” I shrug, one semester at a time. Sometimes its a week at a time, or less, but the idea is to keep moving. The art helps me see that, and helps me waddle and drag myself out of the tough times when I question my resolve. Yep, still here, still going.