Wednesday, October 29th, 2014, I conducted a one hour presentation at the weekly In-Service meeting of the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapies staff at Riley Hospital. 26 people attended the presentation, including 18 child life specialists, 2 art therapists, 2 music therapists, 1 manager and three guests. My guests included, Mary Crevey, Foundation Relations Officer for Riley Children’s Foundation and Tina and John Gianfagna, board of directors on The Creating Hope Foundation.
In my presentation, I described how and why I created The Bodyscapes Technique. I explained its methodology and its processes. Then, I led the group in a short, hands-on Bodyscapes session. The art-making experience was created to promote self care for the child life and creative arts specialists. During the art-making time, I led the group through an abridged Bodyscapes Technique writing activity, a shortened drawing activity and a brief time for reflection. Participants created meaningful insights, impressions and/or poems describing their daily stress, working with and supporting children living with illness and their loved ones. The presentation was very well received. See attached PDF highlighting artwork created during the The Bodyscapes Technique presentation at Riley Hospital.
Minutes before I started my presentation at Riley Hospital, the manger of the child life and art therapies staff told me why she was so grateful I intended to give her staff a hand-on experience to promote and support their own self care. “On a regular week, it is hard for them to take care of themselves,” she said. “They give so much to their patients, but this week even more so. Over the week-end, four infants were brought into the neo-natal emergency room. In the last 24 hours, all four died from complications due to child abuse, Shaking Baby Syndrome. Your activity, centered around our stress level, will help us.”
It has been written that one of the unexpectedly important things that art can do for us is teach us how to suffer with sorrow more successfully. I was proud when I led the child life specialists and art therapists into the hands-on Bodyscapes experience. My work has shown me that when people come together to make art, they feel less alone in their suffering. A group’s experience of individual sorrows can bring a collective sense of dignity to their pain. Quietness filled the conference room while everyone was completing their meaningful insight/poem and rubbing pastel colors onto a drawing of the part of their body where they each hold their stress. The Bodyscapes writing activity helped them find new words to more adequately portray their tension. The drawing activity allowed their strong emotions to move out of their minds and hearts to explode through bright colors rubbed onto paper.
“Diane, what an honor and pleasure it was to spend time with you yesterday as you shared your gifts with our team! That hour of self care has reached far and wide as I continue to hear people reflecting on their experience. Your passion and energy to help others is so evident in all that you do, from the effective presentation to your connection with people to how you explained the high quality art materials, we soaked it all up. I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet you in person and experience your Bodyscapes Technique ~ eye-opening and healing at the same time!”
Written by Sara Barnett, manager, Child Life and Creative Arts Therapies