When I work with groups I am constantly observing and evaluating. I use evaluations to guide and direct; to ascertain the problems and needs of the group, and program. According to Cruz, Berrol, (2004), “…quantitative methods explore measurable observable phenomena related to human experience, and seeks to explain and predict behavior.”
For instance, in one particular workshop assisting Dr. Rutkowski, I observed a client clench her hands, contract, and stand in a posture that would be difficult to move from whenever she used the phrase, “moving forward.” My hypothesis was she did not truly believe and embrace what she was saying, and had some physical tension around this phrase based on her body language.
I have observed countless times before, the relationship between words and phrases and stances and postures (known behavioral phenomenon). Further, I have witnessed how one could change one part, stances/postures for instance (known variable), which would change the manner of the spoken words/phrases and thus their meaning for the client (predicted state). Based on this data, I suggested the client consciously take a stance/posture that was physically non-contracting (opening), and begin a movement process that was opening and flowing. Her body stance/posture changed and the manner in which she said her words changed as she experienced the concept of ‘moving forward.’
Afterwards, she shared that she began to truly believe both physically and emotionally that she could ‘move forward.’ My assertion that she did not fully embrace what she was saying was confirmed by the client.
In my process of leading groups I rely on my Halprin Method/Motional Processing/Life Art Process knowledge, my experience with many great teachers over the years, my intuition, and how I would want a workshop to be if I were the participant. I observe the dynamics of the individual and group, whether it is elders or preschoolers, and adjust accordingly. For instance, while leading the preschoolers in a creative movement exercise, they got out of control and ran about wildly ignoring my directions. I changed the quality of my voice and directed them to move like wooly worms. Naturally, it’s difficult to move wildly about when you’re lying on the floor wiggling.
Each group presents itself based on not just the dynamic of the individual and the collective, but also on the culture that the group is a part of. With the church group, there seemed to be a polite non-cooperative nature in their response to my direction of movement while reading a psalm. Having them close their eyes and adding more direction to the exercise seemed to open up the movement quality and quantity.
It gives me the giggles when I think of how terrified I was as a child to get up in front of a group and read a book report, or engage in some sort of activity. Today when I teach/lead a group, I actually feel more balanced, whole and in harmony than when I am not teaching/leading.
Cruz, R,F. & Berrol, C.F. (2004). Dance/Movement therapists in action: A working guide to research options. Springfield, Ill.: C.C. Thomas.
Rutkowski, A. (1984). Thesis: Development, definition and demonstration of the Halprin Life/Art Process in Dance Education. Unpublished doctorial dissertation, John F. Kennedy University.
Winter, R. (2001). Handbook for action research in health and social care. New York: Routledge.
Hervey, L.W. (2000). Artistic inquiry in dance/movement therapy:
Creative Research Alternatives. Springfield, Ill: Charles C Thomas.
Reprinted from my unpublished manuscript: Renewal and Rediscovery of the Self in the Life Art Process: 20 years as participant, assistant and facilitator. By Richard Brunner MA, R-DMT. Copy write 2006.
I have been practicing meditation since the mid-70’s and started a mindfulness meditation practice in the mid-90’s. Mindfulness has to do with the quality of awareness that we bring to what we are doing and experiencing, to being in the here and now. It has to do with learning to focus on being in the present, to focusing our attention on what we are doing and what is happening in the present.
Many of us are distracted by images, thoughts and feelings of the past, perhaps dissociating, worrying about the future, negative moods and anxieties about the present. It’s hard to put these thing away and concentrate on the task at hand.
I started teaching mindfulness to patients a few years ago and often used the following as a hand out:
Mindfulness has to do with states of mind. Reason Mind, Emotion Mind, and Wise Mind. Reason Mind is your rational, thinking, logical mind. It plans and evaluates things logically. It is your “cool” part. Reasonable Mind can be very beneficial. It is easier to be in Reasonable Mind when you feel good. It is much harder to be in Reasonable Mind when you don’t feel good.
You Would Use Your Reasonable Mind To:
Build a bridge
Figure out how to double a recipe
Balance your checkbook
Figure out the fastest way from point “A” to point “B”
Emotion Mind describes times when emotions are what influence or control your thinking and behavior. Emotional Mind can also be very beneficial. Emotions are what motivate us to action. Emotions are what keep us attached to others and building relationships.
Emotion Mind can be aggravated by:
Illness, Lack Of Sleep, Tiredness, Drugs, Alcohol, Hungry, Overeating, Poor nutrition and/or lack of exercise, Environmental stress and threats, not taking your meds.
Both Emotion and Reasonable Mind Are Equally Important And Valuable
Reasonable mind gives you a way to solve your problems.
Emotion mind gives you a reason (motivation) to want to solve them.
Wise Mind is the integration of emotional and reasonable mind. Wise mind is that part of each person that can know and experience truth. It is where the person knows something to be true or valid. It is where the person knows something in a centered (balanced) way. It is almost always quiet and calm in this part of the mind.
Everyone Has A Wise Mind!
Some people have simply never experienced it.
No one is in Wise Mind all of the time.
Wise Mind – An Analogy for Wise Mind is like a deep well in the ground. The water is at the bottom of the well. The entire underground is an ocean called Wise Mind. But on the way down, there are often trap doors that stop progress. Sometimes the trap doors are so cleverly built that you actually believe that there is no water at the bottom of the well. The trap door may look like the bottom of the well. Perhaps it is locked and you need a key. Perhaps it is nailed shut and you need a hammer. Perhaps it is glued shut and you need a chisel.
Nathan Allen loves the colour blue.
His T-shirt is blue, the blanket wrapped around his knees is blue, and his eyes, bright under his baseball cap, are blue.
But blue is also a feeling, and after spending months undergoing near-daily dialysis at the Hospital for Sick Children, who could blame an 11-year-old for feeling a bit down?
Nathan was referred to the hospital’s new on-staff art therapist to help him cope with his emotions. And when Jennifer Bassin came to visit recently week with her case of supplies, he chose the colour blue to start on a sculpture of a car.
“Shocking,” jokes his mom, Judy Chapman.
Nathan was diagnosed with a bilateral Wilms’ tumour, a rare cancer of the kidneys mostly affecting children, at age 5. He started chemo and radiation and had a partial nephrectomy in both kidneys. His left kidney never worked properly again, and after almost five years of remission, cancer returned to his right kidney.
Now he undergoes chemo once every three weeks and dialysis five days a week. That’s a lot of poking and prodding for an 11-year-old who would prefer to be playing defence on the Georgina Blaze novice hockey team and cuddling his 3-year-old beagle, Daisy, at home in Keswick, Ont.
After three more chemo treatments, Nathan can go home. His parents are training to do at-home dialysis and counting down the days until Nathan can receive a new kidney. His mom is praying she can eventually donate one of her own.
Until then, he looks forward to his weekly sessions with Bassin. She visits during the two-and-a-half-hour dialysis process, and they paint or sculpt while the machine whirs in the background.
“It absorbs some of the time,” Nathan says. “I like to build stuff.”
Bassin has brought something called a 3Doodler — a cross between a hot glue gun and a tiny 3D printer, which can make plastic sculptures. This day, after he makes the car, she asks Nathan to make something that resembles his idea of cancer.
“A big, black, blob,” he says.
Nathan is an outpatient but most of Bassin’s patients are long-term in-patients at Sick Kids who have chronic illnesses, complex medical histories or have faced traumatic injuries.
Since the program started in May, she does art therapy just two days a week and sees between four and eight children aged 4 to 18. Psychiatric patients have benefited from art therapy at Sick Kids in the past, but this is the first year the new program, which is entirely funded by donations, has been extended to medical patients.
“Art therapy is taking the language children already speak and meeting them at that level,” Bassin said. “You don’t have to be good at art to participate in art therapy. It doesn’t have to be about the painting or about the drawing. It’s more about finding something they enjoy that we can use as a tool to explore how they’re feeling.”
One patient, who had recently been in a traumatic boat accident, sculpted a vessel out of clay — and then smashed it against the wall in a moment of catharsis. Some enjoy the physicality of painting big murals, and some like to rip up what they’ve drawn. Another drew a landscape so she could imagine herself outside the hospital, at a picnic.
“When you create something outside of you, you can really treat it like it’s at a distance, and it makes it safer for us to explore a little bit.”
Making art helps young patients take back some control in their lives, if only for an hour. Some patients are content with their creation, and others want to delve deeper into their feelings, Bassin says.
Nathan’s family hopes he can go home in late September, when he can rejoin his classmates in Grade 6 and go back to being an annoying older brother to his sister Emma, 7. He’s still quiet, but less withdrawn after a session, his mom says.
As he paints a mask green, with blue lips and black eyes, Bassin asks Nathan if he has a plan.
“Nope,” he says. “Just going step by step.”
Creative Arts Therapists are human service professionals that help individuals, families, and groups improve their overall physical and mental health. They apply the principles and techniques of each art form in an effort to improve communications, allow expression of feelings, improve coordination, and increase cognitive and social function. Creative arts therapists sometimes specialize in a single area such as dance and movement therapy, drama therapy, art therapy, music therapy, or poetry therapy. They begin by interviewing patients and consulting other health professional to determine the psychotherapeutic needs of the patient. They then develop and implement a customized creative arts therapy program. They observe patients and maintain accurate records so they can consult with the rest of the therapeutic team, which may include physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, counselors, and teachers. Creative arts therapists work with a variety of patients including those with learning disorders, emotional problems, mental retardation, substance abuse/dependency, and physical disabilities. They may also be called upon to conduct scientific research and teach students and other professionals the latest therapeutic methods.