Monday, November 29, 2010
Today I filled in for the facilitator of the Mural group, and I was discussing with other staff the benefits of such an Art Therapy group. The patients have the opportunity to work on their interpersonal skills by working together. They have to figure out the theme of the mural, the composition, what images will be incorporated into it, who will work on what parts, etc. Sometimes it can be frustrating if there is no clear leader or if all the group members have controlling tendencies, as sex offenders often have. It's also challenging when the participants have different artistic abilities. The patients are encouraged to use problem solving, team work, and supportive words.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
One of the Art Therapists decided to transfer to another facility, so on her last day of supervision, I had everyone in the group make an art journal page for her. We then bound up the pages into a book to take with her. Hopefully, it will help remind her of her colleagues here, some of the things that she learned, and the experiences she had. It was also a nice chance for her co-workers to share something creative and meaningful with her. Termination can be a difficult time for clients and staff, bringing up issues of loss, abandonment, trust, etc., so it's important that it be addressed.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
One of the Art Therapists at the hospital suggested we do a Round Robin Art Journaling project. Whoever wanted to participate could bring in or make an art journal/altered book. Then, whenever you had time, you could "check out" someone's journal and fill up a page for that person with art, writing or both. This was a nice way to share something positive, supportive, or meaningful to the other person. During supervision one week, we all took the time to work on one another's art journals. It was fun and creative and nice to have diverse art work in your own journal.
Friday, August 13, 2010
A few weeks ago, I filled in for a colleague in an Art Therapy group that helps the sex offenders develop intimacy in their adult relationships. This addresses another high risk factor for them. The directive was to draw a safe or special place for yourself. It was interesting to note that most of the group members drew a place that they would be alone. One was up in a hot air balloon. Another was in a boat in a bayou. This really represented to me how difficult it is for some of the patients at the hospital to develop healthy relationships. Discussion focused on how to develop more meaningful relationships when you have a tendency to avoid doing so because of past negative experiences or only having experience in developing relationships with inappropriate age groups.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Recently, I filled in for a facilitator of an Art Therapy group where the directive was to draw an image about the group on a piece of paper which had been cut into the shape of a puzzle piece. After the group members finished drawing, they were instructed to put all the puzzle pieces together. It was interesting to see the group dynamic as some members went right to work trying to put the puzzle together. Others just wanted to boss the rest of the group around without doing any hands on work. Others preferred to let the motivated ones do the work. When one man tried to help out and received some negative feedback from a peer, he just gave up and walked out of the group. Sex Offenders have difficulty problem solving, so it was interesting to see how each one reacted and how they worked with each other. Discussion took place about the frustrations and each person's role.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
In a Self-Esteem through Art Therapy group, I had the patients form small groups and gave each group 2 plastic cups, 100 straws, a roll of masking tape, and a 12" ruler. Each group had to construct the strongest bridge possible using the supplied materials. The bridge had to be longer than a foot and the ruler could only be used for measurement. Each group had 20 minutes to construct their bridge. After, I would use heavy objects to test the strength of each bridge. The main purpose of the exercise, though, was to have the participants discuss the group dynamic. Who became the leader of the group? Who was cooperative? Who was argumentative? Who was the most competitive? Etc...This helped the patients be more aware of their characteristics, be more assertive, be more open to feedback, etc. I've also done this for staff in services. It is generally a fun and learning experience.
Friday, April 23, 2010
In order to help the sex offenders get more in touch with their feelings, I would ask them to create an image about their feelings. The theory being that these patients need to be able to identify their own feelings before we can expect them to feel for others. In one Art Therapy session, I asked the group to portray a time they felt loved. One patient painted some flowers to represent his sister who had loved him despite his crimes. Several weeks later he reported to the group that this directive motivated him to try to make amends with his sisters and improve his relationship with them. With empathy, it's good when the offender can feel for another, and it's even better when their empathy enables them to have positive behavior or actions. So, in this instance, the patient felt for his sisters who had gone through a lot due to his sex offenses, and he was able to try to talk to them about the impact of his offenses on them.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Once during my Empathy through Art Therapy group, I asked the group members to depict a time they had felt threatened. One patient drew about the first time he was in prison. There had been a riot and the correctional officers were firing shots. The patient was afraid and feared for his life. He was then able to relate his feelings to the feelings that his victims had. This directive helps the sex offender identify his own feelings, so he can better understand the feelings of others in similar situations. It is important for the patients to be in touch with their own feelings if we expect them to be able to feel for other people. This exercise helped them practice exploring their own feelings and experiencing empathy for others.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
As part of Art Therapy supervision, I have encouraged my supervisees to present at conferences. Working with sex offenders affords many opportunities to share Art Therapy experiences. For the upcoming AATA conference, several supervisees are submitting proposals to present a paper or be on a panel. A panel is a good way to ease into presenting professionally since you have the support of co-panelists. Each Art Therapist can talk a little about a specific Art Therapy group that she has facilitated, and discuss what worked, any challenges, etc. I asked each to provide suggestions and feedback on the abstract, objectives, and title. I hope this experience will enable the Art Therapists to share their knowledge and experiences with other professionals, and promote Art Therapy.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
During Art Therapy supervision this week, I asked everyone to draw about a time they felt vicariously traumatized by a patient or they noticed that someone was vicariously traumatized from working with the sex offenders that we treat. Since all the patients at the hospital are offenders, the risk for vicarious traumatization is high. Some staff don't even realize that it happens to them. The supervisees were able to come up with several examples including seeing another clinician "lose it" after trying to deal with a difficult patient and the stress of trying to help staff deal with the situation, feeling physically ill when hearing a patient talk about his sex offenses, and being emotionally moved when hearing about the abuse that some of the patients have suffered. It was also noted that the patients themselves vicariously traumatized each other, and staff could vicariously traumatize one another as well as a result of trying to cope with this challenging population. This was a good exercise to help staff share their feelings and to be more aware of this phenomenon, as well as how they cope with the resulting feelings.