“I Know More Than I Can Say: Five Creative Arts Therapists in Clinical Practice”


Creative Arts in Counselling Chapter of CCPA at the national conference in Winnipeg May 10-13, 2018

WHEAT Director Darci Adam (pictured above, left) and Drama Therapy sessional instructor Csilla Przibislawsky (right) were two of the creative arts therapists on the Creative Arts in Counselling panel May 12th! There are approximately 281 members of the Creative Arts in Counselling Chapter of CCPA.

The five (Manitoba based) creative arts therapists sitting on the panel were:

1.       Darci Adam – expressive arts therapist

2.       Lee-Ann Adams – music therapist

3.       Tanis Dick – art therapist

4.       Karissa Marten – dance/movement therapist

5.       Csilla Przibislawsky – drama therapist


Sitting, left to right: Darci, Lee-Ann, Tanis, Karissa, Csilla

The therapists were presented a clinical case study on Ian, a 12-year-old boy, and were asked to address the following questions:

A)      What assessment tools would you use?

B)      What approach would you use?

C)      What would be the focus of your treatment?

D)      What would be your short – and long – term treatment goals?

E)      Describe your intervention(s) and how they apply to your specialization.

F)      How do you approach diversity and inclusiveness in your work?

Hearing from the experts:

*Each therapist was given 10 minutes; these are brief notes. The panel was filmed and is intended to be uploaded to the Creative Arts in Counselling website.

Darci Adam

-          Use of expressive arts, multi-modalities

-          Likes to incorporate Nicole Bell’s medicine wheel

-          Address goals for holistic health. Short-term would be a physical expression as a release. Long-term would be self-regulation skills

-          Systematic interventions that includes a systems meeting

-          School interventions, such as creating a friendship group

-          Work to understand Ian’s worldview, relationships and anger

-          Use of drumming, puppets, clay, mapping, etc.

-          Positive corrective attachment experiences (example: reading and snacks)

-          Create context for safety, playfulness and communication of feelings (example: play outside, fairy tales, sword play, etc.)

-          Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault

Lee-Ann Adams

-          Start with attachment interviews

-          Explore musical domain and musical experiences and interests

-          Family-centred perspective. Partner with Mom

-          Pattern-repetitive sensory input to help regulate your brain organization and thoughts

-          Aggression can be performed through musical expression, such as drumming!

-          Use of piano improvisation

-          Therapeutic music lessons to work on self-regulation, mindfulness, emotions and social skills

"All creative art therapies are non-threatening and fun!"

Tanis Dick

-          Understand family historical trauma and parenting capacity to help determine the resources and strengths 

-          Collect auto-biographical data through interviews and art exercises

-          Focus on experiences of joy with children

-          Therapy with kids cannot be in isolation away from the parent(s) or caregiver(s)

-          Ask whether Ian can tolerate being with an art “helper”

-          Create a map to understand how Ian sees himself and his world

-          Process-centred art making that is attachment-oriented

-          Art brings out discovery and sensory skills, and is calming and helps with regulation

-          Importance of developing a relationship with the materials – they are dependable, always there, non-judgmental, safe, etc.

"Philosophy: that creative processes are healing!"

Karissa Marten

-          Has developed movement assessment coding sheets to help understand body alignment and shapes

-          Tailored interventions through the use of the assessment coding sheets between Ian and his parents

-          Reactive attachment disorder

-          Use his body to find moments of calm

-          Incorporate as many elements of choice as possible (music selection, movement preferences)

-          The simplest, but often most powerful, intervention is breath work

-          Explore emotions (example: create an angry dance)

-          Use of mirroring and dance dialogue

"Universality of movement – it is a language and connects us!"

Csilla Przibislawsky

-          Attachment and trauma assessment

-          Look into medical history and identify unmeet needs

-          Empathy between family members

-          Unstructured play sessions with parents

-          Building delight into relations

-          Use of drama games that involve closely watching and listening to one another (example: monologues and “telephone” game)

-          Importance of humour!

-          Developing social skills and empathy with peers (example: drama school group)

-          Role engagement and maintenance - role-play, playback theatre techniques, expressions of emotions

Must-have resources!

Audience question: What are your go-to recommendations?

Darci Adam

Using Expressive Arts to Work with Minds, Bodies and Emotions by Helen Wilson and Mark Pearson

Art as Medicine: Creating a Therapy of the Imagination by Shaun McNiff

Lee-Ann Adams

Raising Parents: Attachment, Parenting and Child Safety by Patricia Crittenden

Tanis Dick

Expressive Arts Therapy for Traumatized Children and Adolescents: A Four-Phase Model by Carmen Richardson

Karissa Marten

Disarming the Playground: Violence Prevention Through Movement and Pro-Social Skills by Rena Kornblum

American Dance Therapy Association website

Csilla Przibislawsky

Trauma Informed Drama Therapy: Transforming Clinics, Classrooms and Communities by Nisha Sajnani and David Read Johnson

North American Drama Therapy Association website

Note: other therapy specializations include play therapy, use of poetry, clowning … anything that is fun and creative! Art is healing!

Email us if you have any questions or recommendations for resources that we can share! Other websites to visit include the Canadian Art Therapy Association and International Expressive Arts Therapy Association.

May 16, 2018

Learning to listen,

in colour.

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