I have worked with children and families for over twenty-five years as an art therapist (arttherapy.org). My training at Pratt Institute (pratt.edu) prepared me to help people of all ages translate their own non-verbal communications and gain insights towards the growth of positive attachments and healthy daily functioning. While my training required an immersion in art media to help individuals find their expressive medium on any given day, I also take into consideration how we move and what is verbalized or not. Much of our life experience is expressed non-verbally like through how our body feels and is functioning. It is expressed in what and how we communicate and create all the time. A creative arts approach considers the mediums that are most useful to an individual’s ability to grow with the demands of daily life.
I have always depended upon my collaborations with other creative arts disciplines like dance-movement therapy, drama therapy, music therapy and play and poetry therapy as well as occupational therapy, yoga, and martial arts to identify a range of proven methods that address our physical and mental health needs.
How “Room to Move” Came to Be
The pandemic closed my office and my ability to work with materials in person in my office/studio setting. Many families continue to identify individual therapy as the primary mode to address behavioral and emotional issues with which child and parent struggle. I have responded to many families seeking art therapy for their children with my family consultation series. Typically, I would have families participate in at least two of these sessions prior to the child beginning any therapy so that the primary caregiving relationship and environment are predictable and well regulated by the parent or caregiver. These qualities are essential conditions for therapeutic work that can be achieved within the home setting and family relationships. In fact, the primary caregiving relationship is a potent place to address our most challenging issues. I am excited and encouraged while working with families who have made gains in better managing their own emotional reactivity and improving their attachments and functioning at home and elsewhere. The pandemic has required being at home more with family and as well as provided a window of opportunity to reset family patterns in a new and healthy way that will also address anxiety and depression displayed by the child. This approach helps families sure up their schedules and age-appropriate expectations in the daily routine with regulation practices for all. We begin with the caregiver or parent so that they are more insightful and empowered to attend to their contributions to the stress at home. These practices once established, will provide coping that is lifelong and promotes improved attachments and physical and mental health outcomes.
I have been inspired by the love and commitment many families have expressed during this radical change of life brought on by the pandemic. While many people were appreciative of more time together, it also brought to light the concerns that got lost in our hectic schedules prior to the pandemic. Despite the negative impacts, there is room to move in our daily lives to attend to stress and feel better and more successful in our relationships.
For many, the idea of the child entering therapy relieves the pressure to do something towards a change. The available providers are limited and waitlists grow. Consider that there may many options to reset family patterns with simple, accessible strategies you are capable of providing for your family. At Room to Move, our family consultation series will also provide clinical assessment and recommendations if any further intervention is needed for any family member.