Friday, November 15, 2013

Expressive Therapies Summit 2013 End Notes

"Paper Puppets" collage by Lani and textures from FlyPaper

Just back from another fantastic experience at the Expressive Therapies Summit! This year I collaborated with Gioia Chilton, Rebecca Wilkinson and Dan  Tomasulo on a two day Positive Psychology, Art, and Drama workshop.  During the first day Dan raised some interesting ideas, about projection of both the shadow and the light, attributing his thoughts to Jung.  You can read about the exercise he had us think about here and you can read some further discussion between Gioia, Rebecca, and myself over on the 14 Secrets Blog.

The next day I had the great pleasure of presenting a full day Puppet-making, Narrative-building, World-of-Possibility workshop with Gioia, Rebecca, and we were joined by actress/drama therapist Le Clanché du Rand.  Ché led us in some wonderful drama warm ups, I did a slide presentation, and then we got down to Puppet-making business.

Once again I was amazed by the lift in energy, the delightful differences in the puppets, and the clear examples of inner satisfaction which were apparent all over the room.  I don't know why I continue to be amazed, but perhaps it's because the process continues to be fresh and even fun, and just as the puppets are always so delightfully different from each other, so too the workshops are always a unique experience.

So my end notes need to include some thought about why the energy and delight are so apparent. Since this level of energy and delight occurred in depressing mental health centers, in working with cancer patients, in depressed post-hurricane, post-oil-spill communities, I have to think it's not particular to this wonderful group of participants, although they were truly wonderful, but I have to think there is something energizing in allowing and even encouraging ourselves to express our differences within the workshop setting.  In fact it seems that within this puppet-making experience, the more differences the better.  (Sort of the opposite of life as usual, perhaps?)  And of course the fact that all puppets have a special gift or ability which we need to discover, is a very encouraging idea.  And then the group resilience narrative being built with all of these strengths was a totally playful, inclusive, delight to watch!

Mulling over the application of this World of Possibility workshop (because I've tried it in a variety of settings with great success, I am always looking for new applications), I would think it is an excellent format for schools concerned with bullying.  My memory of junior high school bullying was that children that didn't quite fit the mold, or children unwilling to pretend to fit the mold (since who of us was created from a mold?) were bullied.  The children who did the bullying were the ones who were a bit insecure in their own self worth, and needed to be feared to feel powerful.  Now wouldn't it be a terrific experience to get children working on resilience narratives from both ends of the bullying experience and actually celebrating their differences, their creativity, and their awesomeness?

From this ExTxSummit experience, I also came to the conclusion that this is my new/current job description: to help people learn about their own awesomeness, and to encourage it to grow and flourish!   I got a big taste for it, that's for sure!

8 comments:

Barry M. Cohen said...

Lani -- You (like the Summit) are all about AWESOMENESS! Thanks again to you and your colleagues for your ongoing contributions to the E T Summit, and for spreading the positive energy in Times Square. -- Barry

Lani Gerity said...

Aw, thanks Barry, and thanks so much for making it all happen!

positivearttherapy said...

Lani that sounds totally awesome! What a treat to have been there. I do love puppets and like you the power of them never fails to surprise. I think it is time I made some more....
Kindest Janet

Gioia Chilton, MA, ATR-BC said...

thanks for writing this fab narrative--very cool to see how you spread the awesomeness, really amazing being with you and at the summit!

Lani Gerity said...

Thanks Gioia! It really was amazing!

Rebecca said...

Lani--loved reading this post but even more, loved being a part of those two days. And I have to say that the puppetry WAS THE MOST FUN I've had (and I've had some fun!). Very very inspiring. Application possibilities also abundant. Thank you. felt very fed!.

Lani Gerity said...

Me too Rebecca, me too!

RB said...

Awesome post from an Awesome presenter! Thanks for bringing your expertise to the #ETSummit and for sharing it here. Great review and I love reading your insight. Hope to see you in Fall 2014!