While I miss the comfort and security of my art therapy office/studio space that I have not returned to since spring of 2020, I have been reinvigorated by what’s possible right in people’s homes. The stay at home orders required a rapid response to families in need of additional support. The virtual format has provided a necessary lifeline to see people and stay connected amidst the extreme stress families are experiencing.
Whether in crisis or because the time at home and radical change in schedules allowed for greater availability, new families are reaching out to address behavioral issues. Over the past 2 1/2 years, families have returned to the care within our therapeutic relationship to better manage the pandemic stress and appreciate the new unique and personal challenges now presented.
I have consulted by phone throughout my private practice career of 27 years and now, this medium continues to serve many clients who were otherwise distracted by zoom or challenged with scheduling limitations. Removed from the intimacy and co-regulation of the in-person office/studio/play setting, my training, as an art therapist, and expertise in establishing therapeutic alliance and relying upon verbal processing of non-verbal experiences, is essential.
Reorganizing How We Can Impact Families Health Outcomes
Within my pre-pandemic model of care in an outpatient office setting, I required parents who were referring their child for art therapy to participate in two initial consultation sessions. During these sessions we would gather relevant family history, discuss presenting problems, plan for goals for the child and parent or primary caregiver. Our plan was always based in adult coaching to better manage their own self regulation practices throughout the rituals of the daily routine and in relationship to their children and partners.
I expanded this to four virtual sessions that now include creating a sensory profile for the adult to help them pair newly learned regulated responses to their very behaviors that were inadvertently reinforcing their children’s dysregulated behavior choices. Most families are served in four sessions with the caregiver only, and for those who needed a session for the child, one or two meetings were sufficient to address the family’s goals. This is truly a game changer and families experience the change and benefit right away. They feel hopeful and become even more invested in learning skills that will serve them and their children’s development throughout the lives together.
A Commitment to Regulation as the Essential Service
I appreciate the need for individual therapy for many children and adults, yet we can consider new ways of addressing anxiety, depression and attentional issues that are so pervasive in our culture, as outpatient providers are burdened/challenged to reasonably meet this individual demand. My approach is about parents learning and committing to regulation practices that so many have not learned and therefore cannot teach their children. We form a commitment to addressing the needs of one’s family from a regulated stance. Families are motivated by the immediacy of their regulation experiences, starting with the vagus breath practice. This intervention settles anxiety, depression and reactivity in the attachment immediately. Family relationships and routines become more predictable and productive.
Expanding the Reach of Regulation to Our Families and Community
Please consider referring families; with cycles of reactivity that persist, parents who look and feel disempowered to parent successfully and have worry about their child’s growth socially, emotionally and developmentally across settings. I am happy to speak to them to further describe how we can do this work well together. Please follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin to learn more about how I am bringing these essentials to families and our greater community. At Room To Move, we practice simple, proven methods in our day that create shifts to feel better, live peacefully and model emotional regulation for children at home.