The atmosphere was frenetic; the creative energy in the air was palpable. I had the intention of tweeting and blogging my experiences in real time, to share with others, but alas the I was so inundated with great information, the only thing I could do at the time was sit back and try to soak up as much of it as a I could.
Every day from about 8am until 5pm, there were a variety of workshops and lectures offered. Some of my favorites included:
* a presentation by Christopher Belkofer, MAAT, LCPC, ATR, entitled" The Changing Brain: Applying Clinical Neuroscience Approaches to Expressive Therapy Interventions in Residential Care" where an EEG measures were used to observe the effects various art materials have on the brain.
* Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPAT, LPCC, ATR-BC in panel on Independent Art Therapy Practice along with my graduate program director P. Gussie Klorer, PhD, ATR-BC, LCSW, LCPC, and Donald Cutcher, LCAT, ATR-BC .
*"Transforming Past Mistakes into Future Lessons" with Gretchen Miller, ATR-BC , Nicole Brandstrup, MA, ATR-BC, and Jordan Potash, MA, ATR-BC graciously sharing lessons learned from their clinical experience with adolescents in art therapy.
* My office mate, Sibel Ozer, LPC, ATR sharing her clinical observations on varied client responses to the interchangeable use of Art Therapy, Sand Play, and EMDR.
In between presentations I snuck away to the Open Studio to find some time for quiet reflection. An Open Studio is described in art therapy literature as a supervised studio setting where participants are treated as artists capable of choosing their own themes and materials instead of clients who are restricted to specific materials and given a directive. Open studio participants are taught how to use art as a safe, yet powerful tool for personal expression and self understanding.
My open studio work consisted of personalizing my new sketchbook. Here we see images of art therapists at work in the open studio, and before and after shots of my sketchbook.
The conference organizers had the ingenious notion to hold the conference proceedings in Dallas Fine Arts District. Here is a shot of me outside the Dallas Museum of Art. "Life imitates art"...
In short, my time at the 2009 American Art Therapy Conference was simply amazing. Every time I attend the conference I come away with more respect for the field of art therapy and the dedication of its professionals. For me the image of the Genesis mural is fitting way to close this post as I feel like my entry to this creative and amazing field is just beginning. Any contributions I might be able to make will involve hard work and cannot be accomplished alone. In the end hopefully the pieces will fit together in a way that makes something beautiful.