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?

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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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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Social Media Day 2018

Today officially marks Social Media Day- a day of recognition founded by Mashable in 2010 as an opportunity to celebrate the worldwide power and influence social media has had on our lives.

 

Throughout this year art therapists and art therapy students have engaged in social media workshops inspired by The Art Therapist’s Guide to Social Media. One of the fun areas explored through discussion and art making includes exploring digital ecosystems with social networking, including thinking back on the first social media sites used, in what ways, and where we were in life at this time.  Also explored are the challenges, anxieties, enthusiasm, and possibilities experienced- personally, professionally, and creatively. What do you remember about your social media engagement back in the “early days” or when you created your first social media account?

The impact of social media over the last decade on the field of art therapy has certainly been tremendous— and with today’s celebration of social media, below is a round up reflection of posts and resources inspired by the love of social media for an art therapist’s connection, community, and creativity! This list includes art therapy online groups, blogs, videos, links, and information for art therapists about social media, professional practice, and ways to learn more about navigating or strengthening our connection within this digital landscape:

Also in celebration of Social Media Day, you are invited to share below any social media memories you have as an art therapist or how social media has impacted your connection, community, or creativity in the art therapy community- 🙂 Up to five responses will be randomly chosen at the end of this week-end (Sunday, July 1, 5 pm EST/US) to receive a free Art Therapist’s Guide to Social Media sticker sheet!  Happy Social Media Day!

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An Art Therapist’s New Year Checklist for Social Media

This time of year can motivate us to make changes, embark on new things, and set goals we want to accomplish both personally and professionally. It is also a good time to try and start new practices and routines that will be of benefit to our wellbeing, relationships, work, and daily life in the year ahead.  This post inspired by topics in The Art Therapist’s Guide to Social Media, offers some to-do’s that art therapists to-be and art therapists can revisit, learn more about, or begin implementing related to professional social media use and online activity for the year ahead.

An Art Therapist’s New Year Checklist for Social Media:

☐ Take time to check your privacy settings on your social media profiles and sites. Remember to maintain awareness and management throughout the year;

☐ Find out about and review any social media policies or considerations that have been instituted at your university, workplace, and the communities or programs you are part of;

☐ Google your name to be aware of what content is available about you online. These results are also what others are viewing when they google or do an Internet search for you;

☐ Keep your LinkedIn profile updated;

☐ Be aware of your “Three Degrees of Influence”;

☐ Keep client content (art expressions, interactions, conversations- both negative, positive, and even when not using identifying information) off your personal social media networks of friends and family. When sharing online in professional or educational forums, protect identifying information, obtain consent, and consider the intention;

☐ If you are an art therapist in private practice or own an art therapy business, consider creating a social media policy to use with your clients;

☐ Strengthen your resources and understanding of digital social responsibility as a clinician;

☐ Remember to pause before you post online. Mindfully think about your post’s possible impact and influence, not just in relationship to your work as an art therapist, but also as a representative of the profession at-large. We are all ambassadors of art therapy on and offline;

☐ If you are an art therapy blogger, draft a one year editorial calendar to plan possible topics, content, and consistent scheduling;

☐ Practice and model global digital citizenship;

☐ Use social media to discover/learn a new art technique, media, artist, or creative inspiration;

☐ Identify and develop a social media sharing and delivery strategy that empowers your professional self, values, and work;

☐ Take an inventory of your digital assets. How you can leverage or enhance existing resources to promote and bring education to your work, art therapy, the populations you serve, and its benefits? Are there digital assets would you like to develop this year?

☐ Become aware of your digital footprint as you use the Internet and share online.

Taking on the above checklist can empower us as art therapists to take ownership of our digital presence, activity, and choices we make (or don’t make) online.  Smart practices to start and integrate!

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