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Building Online Creative Communities in the Time of COVID-19

Earlier in this month, a special report was published by Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association that provides protocols art therapists can enact during this time of COVID-19 to support public health psychosocial guidelines informed by the Ebola & SARS epidemic, caring for frontline health workers, & building creative communities online. You can download the report here.

Included in this report, the use of social media and online platforms can be valuable tools to support information exchanging, sustain interpersonal relationships, decrease isolation and provide creative opportunities to engage in community, meaningful connection, and relational experiences online.

What are your thoughts? How have you used social media differently during the last couple of months in response to COVID-19?

Art Therapy Round Up: Connecting & Creating During COVID-19

A few years ago, the site brightdrops.com posted this about Albert Einstein’s very well known and inspiring quote “Creativity is Contagious” (a favorite!):

It’s funny to think of creativity being contagious, like a virus, but it really does spread from one person to another, just by the act of that second person watching the first be creative…Then find that others start acting the same way, and before long you’ve got a virtual creative epidemic on your hands. (brightdrops.com, 2016)

I think of creativity in this way a lot.  So much, it inspired me to dedicate an entire chapter in The Art Therapist’s Guide to Social Media about my concept of 6 Degrees of Creativity and examples of how our art making and creative deeds can have a profound influence among and around us, on and offline.  These times of COVID-19 create a unique lens (in many ways!) about our shared impact and aspirations related to the power of creativity and its contagion factor.

Art therapists and the art therapy community have been responding via social media and online in these times of COVID-19’s pandemic outbreak by spreading enhanced and new opportunities for virtual connection, community, and creativity. These efforts offer meaningful ways to support one another, exchange art in digital spaces, and manage this life altering experience together through creativity and acts of art.  This is very refreshing to see each day as we continue to navigate this crisis.

This post offers a round up of some of the online places, spaces, and projects  that have been mobilized and activated by members of the art therapy community to assist during this time with ways to connect & create:

  • The Potomac Art Therapy Association (PATA) on Facebook and Instagram has been regularly sharing and re-posting creative expressions that art therapists, graduate art therapy programs, and art therapy students have been making during these times of having to shelter in place, physical distancing, and spending more time at home.  PATA is using the hashtag #stayinandcreate if you want to follow what they share or use it while you are making art at home during this time.
  • Art therapists have been using their blogs to reach out with art-based resources and creative self-care strategies — some great examples are here from art therapist Sherri Jacob’s blog and here on art therapist Dr. Lani Gerity’s blog.
  • Digital art sharing &  making spaces have also been created by art therapists to respond to COVID-19, make art together virtually, and create creative connection such as the Facebook Groups Coronavirus Response Art by Art Therapists and #Coronart.  Creative Contact, an  artist trading card swap is bringing together art therapy practitioners, educators, and students to share miniature artworks and their creating process online during this time of staying home with the future goal to exchange our art with one another through the mail eventually.  This project has included virtual meet-ups where art-making takes place together as a group online.

Think about how you can start your own creative chain reaction of compassion, kindness, or connection during this challenging time through acts of art making and your social media activity.  Consider participating in a random act of creative kindness with hopeful messages to leave for others to discover.  Examples I have seen over the last few weeks include sidewalk chalk expressions, window art, or public and street art that others can take in from a safe physical distance or behind the screen of their device.  The round up links above are also good examples to start with for inspiration!

Digital Time Capsule: Favorite Art Therapy & Technology Related Activity, Resource

Contributors to the Art Therapy & Technology Digital Time Capsule had these responses about their current favorite art therapy and technology related activity or resource:

Applications

Social Media &  Sites Online

Devices & Communication

  • Smartphone
  • Tablet
  • Teleconferences
  • Online meetings
  • Closed group chats online

Media Sharing & Content

  • Photos
  • Cloud storage
  • Podcasts
  • Videos

Creative Expression

  • Digital painting
  • Virtual reality painting

t the beginning of this new year & decade, the idea of creating an art therapy & technology digital time capsule seemed like it would be a fun and collaborative project to invite current art therapists and future art therapists to participate in! This digital time capsule is an opportunity to document our relationship and activities with technology in 2020 as art therapists and re-visit the responses 10 years from now in 2030. Feel free to contribute your own response in the comments below. You can also connect to previous posts in this series here.

Digital Time Capsule: What Do Art Therapists Dislike & Like About Technology in 2020?

Inspired by contributions that are coming in for the Art Therapy & Technology Time Capsule, this week takes a look at what art therapists dislike & enjoy about technology in their 2020 lives:

Dislikes

  • Constant checking of email, social media and its impact on being truly present
  • Lacking mindful use with intention & purpose
  • Frustrating issues with connecting
  • Cyberbullying
  • Trolling
  • Cost
  • Concerns about the impact on mental health, especially for youth
  • Impact on anxiety, depression, suicide?
  • Feeling lost or immobilized without access to the Internet
  • Reliance on the quality of wifi
  • The time & energy it takes to learn, re-learn & navigate new technology or changes
  • Disclosure anxiety, digital permanence, its impact, safety concerns
  • Limited screen size/frames for interacting
  • Beliefs that teletherapy is less effective
  • Others that still do not understand how to use technology wisely
  • Lack of means to make envisioned tools & ideas come to life

Likes

Applications & Digital Media:

  • Available ways to create, especially via smartphones
  • Augmented reality (AR)
  • Virtual reality (VR)
  • Immersive environments
  • Taking photos of personal art & sharing this art on social media
  • Saves time

Accessibility to:

  • New ideas for self care, art therapy directives
  • See clients or supervisees not able to physically come to their office/studio
  • Support network
  • Collaboration
  • Professional training opportunities

Inspiration, Aspiration & Hopes:

  • Technology’s potential
  • Expanding possibilities
  • Growth opportunities
  • Innovation
  • Possibilities and interest from clients

Connection with:

  • Colleagues
  • Art therapy information & resources
  • Community
  • People worldwide, near & far
  • Hearing about other art therapists
  • Seeing other people’s art
  • Having conversations with other art therapists no matter where they live
  • Communication across physical distances

At the beginning of this new year & decade, the idea of creating an art therapy & technology digital time capsule seemed like it would be a fun and collaborative project to invite current art therapists and future art therapists to participate in! This digital time capsule is an opportunity to document our relationship and activities with technology in 2020 as art therapists and re-visit the responses 10 years from now in 2030. Feel free to contribute your own response in the comments below. You can also connect to previous posts in this series here.

Art Therapy & Technology Digital Time Capsule: How Do You Use Technology as an Art Therapist in 2020?

At the beginning of this new year & decade, the idea of creating an art therapy & technology digital time capsule seemed like it would be a fun and collaborative project to invite current art therapists and future art therapists to participate in! This digital time capsule is an opportunity to document our relationship and activities with technology in 2020 as art therapists and re-visit the responses 10 years from now in 2030. As this time capsule project begins to take shape with contributions, sharing some of the questions & responses from the art therapy community also makes this process fun!

DigitalTimeCapsule

This first blog post features examples from art therapists about how they use current technology in 2020 as an art therapist. Responses are divided into seven areas and includes practices, tools, platforms, software, and activities related to therapeutic work, administrative tasks, learning & professional development, research, teaching & education, as well as professional connection and the art therapist’s own creative practice.

 Professional practice with clients:

  • Online group work, digital art therapy, telehealth & teletherapy, virtual reality
  • Populations: Young adults living w/ cancer, adolescents, older adults
  • Chatrooms, Skype Business, InTouch
  • Playing music via phone, using a customized, appropriate playlist created on Pandora
  • Setting timer(s) on phone for managing group time
  • Recommending, encouraging mental health apps for clients to use

Professional practice administrative tasks:

  • Photographing client art to insert digitally into their electronic medical record
  • Scheduling, Calendar use
  • Documentation: treatment plans, client notes, billing
  • Theranest, GoogleDocs
  • Social media (FB) for promoting practice, events
  • Professional website

Professional development, learning:

  • Accessing the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) journal online
  • Purchasing books online (i.e. Amazon)
  • Online CEUs
  • AATA Conference app

 Research:

  • Conduct research, project collaboration
  • Search online for literature, directives, news/research about art therapy
  • Dropbox, GoogleDocs, Twitter

Teaching, Education, Supervision:

  • Online course teaching via Blackboard. Moodle
  • Teaching graduate art therapy students about digital art therapy
  • Online supervision via Skype, Zoom, WebEx

Professional Connection:

  • Finding, sharing information and resources about art therapy
  • Promoting art therapy to others
  • Network with other art therapists, colleagues
  • Communicate with colleagues, art therapy friends via email, text
  • Communicate with national and state art therapy associations, professional organizations
  • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

Art Therapist Creative Expression:

  • Digital & virtual painting
  • Virtual reality
  • Finding inspiration
  • Sharing own art via social media (i.e. Instagram)
  • ArtRage, altering photos

Contribute to our digital time capsule! What are some examples of how you use technology as an art therapist in 2020? Leave your responses below in the comments section!

Three Benefits of Social Media in Times in Crisis

 

SocialMediaAndCrisis

Traumatic events that are in the form of natural disasters, such as wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes or flooding, and human created disasters related to disease outbreak, terrorism, gun violence and other occurrences of mass violence, can have an immense impact on mental health and vulnerability to traumatic stress. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration-SAMHSA, 2019)

The use of social media can be a valuable tool in these times of crisis for survivors, first responders, affected communities and beyond. This post highlights three ways social media can play a beneficial role before, during and after times of distress and traumatic events.

  • Broadcasting critical information: Social media and their communication platforms can provide announcements and updates in regards to helping with preparation of impending events, provide warning, response, recovery, and education. A benefit of using social media for providing and receiving information, is that this content can be communicated in real time, as it becomes available and can be broadcasted to a broad audience easily and with a wide reach. Critical information can become accessible to many quickly. Social media is often used as the fastest way to inform others such as family and loved ones about safety status, needing help, or for others to assist in communicating these messages. This can help decrease fear and worry, as well as empower affected individuals, communities, and the public with a feeling of control amidst a situation that can be chaotic and overwhelming.
  • Promoting resiliency: An important factor that creates and strengthens resiliency and the ability to recover and come back from distressing events and experiences is connection to others. A sense of belonging and community that can be facilitated through social media can provide survivors and affected others know they are not alone, find support, and an outlet for coping. Social media can also be vital for sustaining ongoing connection and community in the aftermath of trauma and loss through our personal or group networks, offering digital spaces for sharing virtual memorials, memories, images, and story telling.
  • Access of resources: Sites in the form of social media networks, blogs, and websites offer a way to obtain and exchange information and resources in times of emergencies, crisis, or disaster. Some examples of tools online include:

Facebook Crisis Response: With this response tool, you can mark yourself safe for others you are connected to on Facebook be notified when an emergency takes place in your area. You can also use this tool to find or give assistance, and receive information during and after a crisis.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention Alerts on Twitter- Center for Preparedness and Response provides crisis or emergency updates or follow Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Twitter that supports citizens and first responders before, during, and after emergencies.

SAMHSA also recommends these social media resources:

 – Disaster Distress Helpline– Provides readiness preparation information, education and coping strategies on Facebook, @distressline on Twitter, or Text TalkWithUs or Hablanos to 66746

The Red Cross Safe and Well Database- You can register yourself or search for others as a way to communicate safety when disaster happens.

Google People Finder: This Google tool helps people connect with loved ones in the aftermath of natural and humanitarian disasters.

A note of real caution with using social media of course is that misinformation can also quickly and widely spread, so it is important to be mindful of where you obtain information from online. A challenge of social media includes that information such as individual opinion be interpreted, reported, or shared on social media as fact. This confusion can cause additional uncertainty, heightened arousal and response in the face of critical situations. Filtering your social media exposure by using tools that are suggested above can help navigate and manage these risks. It is also valuable to be aware of privacy, security, and safety issues, such as disclosing personal or location information that could put you risk on social media, especially in moments of crisis or great need. And finally, an important consideration is to mindfully manage and monitor social media exposure and content that can become a source of anxiety, fear, panic, and distress.

Social media can certainly be a lifeline in critical times and I believe the benefits (and challenges) to bring assistance and resources to others prior, throughout, and following an event are worth us all becoming familiar with in this digitally connected world.

References:

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Creating a Strong Digital Presence on Social Media: Professionally, Ethically, and Creatively

Excited to announce this Philadelphia workshop hosted by Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions’ Creative Arts Therapies Department on December 15, 10-4 pm with 5 CEs, including content in ethics— There is still time to register if you are interested in attending this offering in-person or online via Zoom live webcast.

This workshop presents practical content for creative arts therapists to consider for creating and maintaining a strong digital presence through the use of social media professionally, ethically, and creatively.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Digital boundaries
  • e-Professionalism
  • The impact of ones digital footprint
  • Introduction to ethical frameworks to help inform professional social media activity
  • Important strategies for promoting a presence online aligning with ones work, passions, values, and career interests.
  • Content delivered through lecture, discussion, and creative experientials.

Learning Objectives:

At the end of this workshop participants will be able to:

  • Recognize 3 competences for developing an ethical and professional digital presence
  • Learn 3 strategies for professionally sharing content on social media
  • Identify 3 ethical frameworks and strategies to consider for professional social media use as a mental health professional

Social Media and the Creative Process

This week over on the Creativity in Therapy blog, art therapist Carolyn Mehlomakulu posted Exploring the Stages of the Creative Process – a great read about how the creative process can unfold in art therapy. The post also explores how the creative process and its different stages can continue to be practiced or implemented in everyday life- even when not engaged in art-making.

Social media also has a connection to the creative process and its different stages! Below is an infographic for Chapter 7, Social Media and the Art Therapist’s Creative Practice which explores how social media impacts modern day creative work and suggestions for art therapists to consider for strengthening or adding to their creative practice.

As described in Chapter 7 (p. 137):

Social psychologist Graham Wallas (1926/2014) identified one of the early models of creative thinking, including essential stages of the creative process: preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification. Social media has become an active influence to these well-known steps and aid in how the creative process can now develop for many artists. An adaptable version of Wallas’ stages has been designed to meet the needs of today’s digital culture (LePage, 2015).

 

Social Media and Stages of the Creative Process (Adapted from LePage, 2015) | Illustration by Wiscy Creative Jones, Chapter 7- The Art Therapist’s Guide to Social Media

How do you use social media to assist with your creative process?

References

LePage, E. (2015, September 3). Social Media and the Creative Process. Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-and-the-creative-process

Miller, G. (2017). The art therapist’s guide to social media: Connection, community, creativity. New York, NY: Routledge.

Wallas, G. (2014). The art of thought. Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Solis Press. (Original work published 1926)

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Fall Workshops Inspired by The Art Therapist’s Guide to Social Media

Coming this fall….. Workshops inspired by the The Art Therapist’s Guide to Social Media:

As part of the 2018 Expressive Therapies Summit in New York City, Social Media, The Arts, and Community Engaged Projects (October 12, 7-9 pm) explores the power of the arts and how creative, interactive community based projects using social media can motivate positive change, hope, and well being. Public projects inspired by abandonment art, random acts of kindness, and other creative deeds not only motivate art making, enhance emotional development, and support compassionate acts, but also offer meaningful opportunities to connect and positively influence others that their art comes into contact with, both on and offline. As a result, this inspiration has the possibility to keep spreading its creative message from person to person. Participants will be introduced to art-based projects and experience how-to ideas for implementing this kind of creative chain reaction for use in treatment with clients and ways to facilitate this approach within a therapeutic context for individuals, groups, or communities.  Registration is now open here.

Social Media and Art Therapists: Exploring Our Digital Footprint and Presence Online (November 3, 10:15-11:45 am) will be offered at the 2018 American Art Therapy Association Conference in Miami, Florida.  This workshop invites art therapists to consider and reflect upon the impact of our digital footprint and its influence. Through didactic presentation, experiential art-making, and group discussion attendees will be encouraged to explore topics that foster an awareness about creating a digital presence online that aligns with ones goals, passions, values, and career interests.  Pre-registration required and space availability is limited. Advanced registration is open online until 9/28 via http://www.arttherapyconference.com

Also being included this fall as part of Southwestern College’s Masters in Art Therapy/Counseling Professional Ethics Course and the college’s Masters in Art Therapy for Clinical Professionals, will be an online webinar/guest lecture for students about Social Media and E-Professionalism Considerations for Art TherapistsThis 30 minute webinar presents how art therapists can create a strong professional digital presence through the use of social media. Topics explored include:

  • Digital ecosystems
  • E-professionalism
  • Online disinhibition effect
  • The art of creating a professional digital presence
  • Digital footprint considerations

If you are interested in learning more about how to incorporate this webinar or guest lecture into any of your art therapy coursework, please submit an information request here.

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Past 2018 Events

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Look Back… Media & Technology 1968

It was a pleasure and honor to celebrate the Toronto Art Therapy Institute (TATI)’s 50th Anniversary with an invitation to speak at the Institute’s special gala event held this week. The TATI, founded in 1968, was the first art therapy training program in Canada established by Dr. Martin Fischer, one of the early pioneers in the field.

The evening offered a look back at the TATI’s great history and legacy of art therapy in Canada, as well as an opportunity to give attention to its active presence of faculty, alumni, site supervisors, and students, as well as what the future of the art therapy field holds ahead. This also included looking at the impact of technology on the art therapist, especially in the last 20 years for connection, community, and creativity.

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So what was the media and technology like/starting to emerge in 1968 when TATI was founded?  Here is a fun look back:

  • Color television was just starting to become more conventional in use and the first live, network transmission of video took place (a view inside an orbiting U.S. space capsule).  Now television includes an endless amount of channels and programs for the viewer — through real time and recorded network broadcasting, live streaming, breaking news, DVR recording, Netflix watching, and on the Internet, our mobile devices, and without the use of the conventional television set .
  • Music in 1968 could be played on an 8 track, which was considered the portable format for this time. Video tapes, such as Beta or VHS would not be available until the 1970s.  Now, music and video have become digitized and very portable in the form of MP3s, media sharing and online content communities, YouTube, Vimeo, Pandora, Spotify, Soundcloud, and podcasts are easily accessible through our computers and mobile devices.
  • Computers. Back in 1968, the “Nova” computer which only had 32 kilobytes of memory (!) sold for $8,000.   The computer that navigated the lunar module to the moon was introduced in 1968. Hewlett-Packard (HP) started promoting the first desktop computer this year too. The Internet as we now know it was very much undefined, but the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was starting to be developed in the early 1960s, which became the technical beginnings of the World Wide Web and Internet.  ARPANET published its first program plan and made its first network transmission the following year.  50 years later computers are less expensive, hold lots and lots of memory in miniature form, and is widely used by the masses (not just researchers, scientists, and academics) everyday, everywhere, anytime. The Internet (and now Wi-Fi too) instantly connects us to endless sites, networks, people, places, news, apps, experiences, and more all around the world.

Art therapists now live in a world of glocality (where the local and global co-exist!)  where we can easily connect to and virtually engage with our colleagues, beyond our local, regional, and national surroundings.  Platforms and programs like Skype, Zoom Facebook Live, What’s App, and more allow us to communicate and interact with one another.  The benefits of this connection are many- such as but not limited to:

  • Decreases isolation
  • Provides relational support
  • Obtain and exchange resources
  • Collegial engagement
  • Professional belonging
  • Creates opportunities for advocacy and awareness

The Internet has also held the concept of community as an important value to its early activity. Online resources and virtual spaces for art therapists were already surfacing in the mid 1990s, 15 years before social media really became widely embraced and used.  For example, Toronto art therapist, TATI alumna and faculty member Petrea Hansen-Adamidis created Art Therapy in Canada in 1996, the very first online web resource and forum in Canada. Learn more about Petrea’s experience and pioneering efforts with technology in this Art Therapists on the Grid interview here.

Online virtual communities can help art therapists:

  • Share and exchange information
  • Learn from one another
  • Create a sense of belonging
  • Strengthen professional identity

In addition, we can also keep strengthening our global digital citizenship as art therapists. We can enhance our understanding about the societal impact of living in a world without geographical boundaries due to technology and our use of social media.

This awareness first includes an individual understanding about how our personal and professional conduct online can impact the profession’s global digital footprint and art therapy’s international integrity. Having respect for the self, others, and what we access or engage with online deserves attention. Choosing to engage in online environments with empathy, compassion, generosity, and benevolence acknowledges the powerful influence our connections and interactions have on overall well-being, relationships, and creating community.  It also recognizes how we as art therapists have a valuable role in helping create a better digital world through our online presence and example.

Thank you to TATI for the opportunity to celebrate their historic milestone and include a little bit about technology and how it connects us all together, not just now but will continue to in the future. The media, programs, methods, and ways art therapists use technology will keep changing, developing, and offer new possibilities beyond our imagination for the future of the field… Also exciting to keep watching is how art therapists and future art therapists keep contributing to this digital landscape!

Congrats to TATI on their 50th year and here’s to 50+ more! 🙂