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The Art and Social Change educational frame and the training guide: Two sides of the same coin

posted 12 Feb 2019, 02:46 by Catherine West

After successful testing of the Art and Social Change training approach, partners believe that the innovative educational concept will be used beyond the partnership context and find its way to a wide audience for sustainable use. 

Piloting has shown that art in education can contribute to reach at least the main objectives that we had established for our project: Develop creativity, individual satisfaction, reduction of excessive stress and change of perspective and improvement of understanding at the workplace, respect and communication in the relationship between medical staff and recoverists. And we are convinced that the potentials are wider.           

A condition for the successful project implementation has been the close and fruitful cooperation of the German and Italian partners from the beginning, responsible for the pedagogical concept and the training implementation plan, respectively.  The project allowed a common learning at both sites with a European dimension that involved the other project partners and will have a longer lasting impact. The continuous exchange has been always stimulating and efficient, leading to better understanding and allowed transfer of practical experience into a practice related theory and vice versa. The cooperation has led to continuous improvement and adaptations of the educational frame that have been broken down and mirrored afterwards in the training programme. Therefore, both outputs, IO3 and IO4, have to be regarded and explored together, like two sides of a coin.

The pedagogical frame will help to develop a general understanding of the innovative approach while the programme will help further users to find guidance and examples for practical implementation.

 

Gerd Zimmer

Nuccia Cammara

Elisa Fulco


The country specific plans devised from these outputs are now available here:

The Art & Social Change Podcast Series with Arts & Health SW

posted 7 Feb 2019, 00:39 by Catherine West   [ updated 7 Feb 2019, 00:41 ]

We are pleased to share the whole podcast series produced by Hannah Mumby at our partner organisation, Arts & Health South West. Participants in our project discuss various areas of our work and learning in this four part series. Listen to them here, or download them from Itunes or soundcloud. Please share with anyone you think may be interested. 


A Participants Perspective: Dinata

posted 17 Dec 2018, 06:52 by Catherine West

On May 5 the second stage of the training „Art, Burnout Syndrome Prevention and Social Change“ was completed. The training was targeted at health care professionals working with persons recovering from addictions or having addictions.

We want to share reflexions of Dinata Ona Čepulionytė, a participant who took part in both stages of the training.


Reflexions after the first training stage:

„Looking back at the training, I want to focus on three aspects: content, experience and feelings. As I started the training without any special expectations or biases - was totally open to everything – I cannot say that I got too much or too little of something. I feel pleased that I had an opportunity to communicate and cooperate with teachers who, as I noticed, tried very sincerely to share their experience and teach us the most important things which help to look at problems from a distance, or as if we were in somebody else‘s shoes. I value the experience I gained which, I believe, will be of use even in the least expected situations. Hoping to get a double joy I certainly intend to apply artistic tasks that gave me only positive emotions in my work with a group. I feel like I have gained a lot, understood a lot and ... eager to learn even more! So, I do believe that this training has opened a chest of treasures, and I took some light from it which I am going to share with others in my job.”


Reflexions after the second training stage:

“If you ask me why I came to the second stage, I will say just one thing – because of the community. The community which immerged during the first stage of the training, that special bonding with the trainers is actually very strong. I felt that I must come and meet them again. I felt a desire to share, a desire to give. I noticed that we acted like a support group: we were united by the same goal that we wanted to achieve and a wish to discuss how we feel on that way. That is why, perhaps, we had plenty of reflexions. I believe during the training we strengthened bonds with each other as well as with ourselves. And that bond with yourself is necessary to understand that you need to stop and breathe in. Once you do that, everyday life gains new colors. I think it is absolutely relevant in our job: sometimes all you need is to pause, and then your relationship with yourself and with others becomes right: effective, curing and meaningful.”


Dinata Čepulionytė
Lithuania

A participant's experience: Stacey

posted 22 Nov 2018, 01:49 by Catherine West

One day I had a call from my group leader at CGI, asking me if I would like to participate in a three-day workshop that would introduce me to creative ways to help people in recovery. As a creative person who has used creativity as a way of helping me in my recovery, and having empathy for others in recovery, I said a big yes!

I went along on the day feeling excited but a little apprehensive, because I was alone and knew no one. Then I was greeted by Kate and Christy, two of the most hospitable people I have had the privilege to meet. Then we were introduced to an art long since forgotten, the art of game play (not the game play with computers!), good old-fashioned communication game play. We were actually talking and really getting to know each other in a way that we left behind in childhood, resurrected for the good of all us u. I call Kate and Christy the queens of icebreakers. As I got into enjoying game play, I felt truly settled and part of a bigger thing, togetherness and unity. We were then able to watch a video Wonderland about how art was helping and teaching others, a very interesting and inspiring recording. We were then introduced to creative exercises using objects, movement, creative writing, pictures, storytelling as a child through play, resurrecting what we were before substances took hold. Then it was up to us to create our own presentations, using our new skills and learning from each other. Of course, it was all very intensive but in a good way. We were making long lasting friendships, learning about opportunities and things we can do to keep the momentum going. Wonderful new opportunities were made available to me. I would recommend this course to everyone, and anyone.

It was a fabulous opportunity to showcase our skills in a safe space where everyone and anyone is accepted. Afterwards I felt refreshed and renewed, but a little flat, as I enjoyed every part so so much. Never before have I felt such a part of something quite wonderful. The support and encouragement of Kate and Christy is second to none. I was very reassured by their support. It was truly one of the best experiences of my life.

Stacey Griffiths

A participant's experience: Nou

posted 7 Nov 2018, 07:59 by Catherine West

“Feel the fear and do it anyway” (Susan Jeffers) was my mantra on the way to the first installment of what was to be a three-day training session. It wasn’t a case of “I hate Mondays” more a spike in my  anxiety, fed by a traumatic family experience that weekend. As I hurriedly approached the door, after a last-minute confusion, then panic over the address, my anxiety was turned up to eleven. “What am I doing here?” “What is this course going to be like?” “I don’t have the right to be here”. As my self-depreciation was about to overwhelm me, I found myself in a room with a number of other people who were very quiet, I got the feeling that some of them were anxious too.

I signed in and was offered tea/coffee’ and there was a selection of fruit and snacks (and the mandatory biscuits). When everybody had settled we round the room and said our names, we found out we had three Johns and two James. It was funny at the time and we all laughed. I thought this was the ice breaker. However, the real ice-breaker came when our facilitator, Kate, began the session by asking us a simple question:

“What percentage of you wants to be here, right now, and what percentage of you doesn’t?”

Kate kicked it off with her answer, filled with honesty, she spoke briefly about how excited yet nervous she was about starting this three-day journey with us. Well, the facilitator facilitated our honesty and as we went around the room, the answers make my more comfortable. I wasn’t the only person in that room with anxiety or carrying personal drama that day. Some didn’t share information, some did, by the time it was my turn, I was surprisingly calm. This allowed us all to connect, within the first five minutes. From then on, the course was filled with unique experiences, that allowed us all to converse with the creativity within us and taught us how to communicate that with others.

The work itself pushed us and we found ourselves questioning our own expectations and perception of others. Through a series of “games” and group work we discovered that we do, in fact, ‘judge a book by its cover’. After one game, which reminded me of a round of ‘Would I lie to you?’, I felt that point to be sadly true, but revelatory.

The three days flew by, and by the end it felt as though I was saying goodbye to co-workers of years. We were a team, we even created a What’s App group to stay in touch.

The course overall, was fun, interesting and informative. My confidence to lead a group through an exercise has increased tenfold and I look forward to more courses and more creative empowerment in the future. Many thanks to Kate, Christy and Cascade Creative Recovery and Mark and PORE.


Nou Ra.

Photography as an opportunity to cope with burnout at work for health sector professionals: Theory & practise

posted 30 Oct 2018, 06:19 by Catherine West

Lithuanian pilot Round II
by Orinta Labutyte

Today photography is closer to us like never before, because almost each of us have a smart phone or at least a phone with camera. It provides an opportunity to see to the things through different perspective and to develop your creativity and personal skills.

It has been proven, that various creativity processes, art therapy helps to improve emotional wellness. Photography is one of the best ways to relax and to forget all troubles because to make a picture (not necessarily the best one), you have to see, organize the picture in your head, how you want it to be and there is no time to think about anything else, except about your own picture. Learning to be patient, to see details, light, composition, starting a creation process. By using camera person develops not only creativity, but also practising mindfulness, which reduces stress and helps to "re-charge" yourself and to look to the circumstances, difficult situation from another point of view. For many it can be even self-realisation process.

At the beginning, I asked each participants to introduce and to tell if they have or had any touch with photography. It was very interesting to see shining eyes, sincere smile while some of participants were sharing their experience in photography since childhood, but never tried it seriously being an adult. I was very happy to see curious looks and being asked various questions and opinion about one or another picture. I saw that my comments and encouragement made this lecture participants more self confident in photography and more knowlidgeable.

During this lecture participants were acquainted with information, how to cope with burnout at work using photography as a possibility to relax. How photography helps to develop social and personal skills. They have got written summary of the lecture with photography tips, to read about it whenever they need it. They learnt about composition, rule of thirds, sometimes to see the situation as well as a photo object - is enough to change the "point of view" - angle from where you are looking, how to take a beautiful landscape picture and how to pose and take a picture while traveling.

I gave one task before the theoretical part of the meeting - to take a piece of cake and to decorate it in a plate. By using all provided things for decoration, they had to create a tasty looking photogaphy object and to take a picture of it. This, 2 in 1 task proved that we do see the same things in a different way and each of us have different level of creativity. For participants it was very interesting to observe each others work.

The most important, given information and time being together made happy all participants, some of them even decided to come back to more serious photography and to buy cameras, as phone is not enough anymore. For me it was pleasure to see satisfied faces, it is always good when people make nice pictures, make themselves and others happy and share that happiness with others.

“While we teach, we learn,” said the Roman philosopher Seneca. My main task was to introduce photography as an opportunity to cope with burnout at work. After this lecture, I am sure the participants  know that they are able to develop their creativity level through photography.


Art as an Agent of Change: Why Art and not Art Therapy in "Art & Social Change" project?

posted 1 Aug 2018, 08:45 by Catherine West

By Gaetana Nuccia Cammara and Francesca Picone with Editing for English by Catherine West

Gaetana Nuccia Cammara, Social Worker at UOC Dependencies Pathology ASP Palermo, Photographer, Project Manager of the “Palermo: uno sguardo a fuoco” and "L'Arte che cura" projects, manager  for Ce.P.A.V. (Visual Arts Permanent Center) of the ASP of Palermo.

Francesca Picone, Psychiatrist, Analyst Psychologist, Manager for U.O.S. Sert ASP Palermo, Trainer, Lecturer and Supervisor at CIPA Institute for Southern Italy and Sicily, co-host of the Art laboratory within the CIPA School of Psychotherapy since 2009. Collaborator with Art and Psyche Working Group for Art and Psyche in Sicily, Syracuse Sept. 2015.

Art possesses a strong transformative value, inherent in the creative process, capable of producing a particular state of well-being, in the moment in which it is experienced.

During the process of artistic production, the inner images and the real and social dimension of oneself, meet and integrate, facilitating in the person the perception and the listening of the emotions and the internal sensations; this experience can generate new insights and can lead one to experiment with alternative actions to those already known.

The creative experience is characterized by the playful spirit. It is direct, immediate but effective at the same time. All this differs from Art Therapy which instead provides settings, times, methods and techniques, typical of a structured therapeutic path. Generally, the health worker who works in personal care services unwillingly accepts to participate in structured training courses for therapeutic purposes. This is why the Art and Social Change project chose to design training centered on a participatory methodological approach that involves the use of Art and not of Art therapy. We seek to activate in health workers a creative, unstructured that is freeing. Thereby it is non-therapeutic: it is a guide to favoring empowerment and re-motivation. Stimulating creative opportunities in such health workers can enhance their empathic capacity and emotional vocabulary, important protective factors that can produce personal well-being, strengthen motivation and prevent stress and demotivation in the workplace. Studies confirm a close link between improving the interpersonal skills of health workers and increasing the quality of life of patients and their families.

The training program of Art & Social Change is divided into several group workshops, in which, within a framework that involves the use of different channels of expression, and that starting from a theme proposed by the artist, allows each person to experience his or her own artistic product.

The preliminary research that the partnership has conducted on the state of the art within the countries involved in the project, show that this training experience appears particularly innovative in the health care sector.  The experiences, for addiction health workers in institutional settings are few or totally absent. This innovation is closely related to the concept of promoting a new way of training professionals through Art, which starting from the individual well-being of the individual professional reaches a transformation of the communication and relational modalities, with consequent improvement of the therapeutic relationship with the final beneficiaries (recoverists).

 

 

The Michael Chekhov Acting method

posted 30 Apr 2018, 08:35 by Catherine West

The Michael Chekhov acting method is an approach to the acting process from an unusual angle, using illogical and irrational ways rather than logical and rational. This technique is based on eastern spiritual work and natural unconscious processes in our everyday lives. This acting technique is suitable for professional actors as much as for inexperienced, unprofessional people, and can help bring joy and ease to the stressful actors life. All the exercises are personal and can be fully experienced by any interested person.
 
Chekhov endeavored to uncover and teach ways through which actors could tap into their subconscious minds - and the universal experience of humanity - through various exercises. He felt that it was important that actors not limit their characters by drawing from their limited, conscious, worldly experiences. He felt that infinite experiences of humanity were stored in the subconscious mind and could be accessed through physical gestures and other exercises that were seemingly „external“ in nature. Specifically, one way in which Chekhov bridged the gap between the subconscious and the conscious - was through the use of „Psychological Gesture.“ Through this exercise, an actor will physicalize an internal need or emotion through an external gesture. This outward gesture, and its accompanying feelings, are then drawn back in and internalized.
 
This technique is very wide, but it has some key elements that are present through all the exercises: everything is psychophysical (body and mind connected), everything is personal to you (you can experience an exercise completely different from your colleagues), it is about some kind of physical and emotional transformation. The main goal of this technique is to transform.
 
In theory, through these exercises one can relieve himself from stress and too much thinking and start experiencing new feelings, created by his own imagination. Psychophysical transformation should help a person to leave his own problems behind and to experience a different character. Jumping from one feeling to the other, fully understanding a character helps one to better understand himself too.
 
See the video about pilot training in Lithuania here.
Artūras Dubaka

The art and power of ambivalence

posted 10 Apr 2018, 03:25 by Catherine West

Brighton Training round one.

I was surprised when we asked the participants to feedback on which moments of the training had had the most impact on them, that nearly all the group spoke about the very first exercise that we did together that seemed to have set the tone and indeed the values of the training. I say first, but I mean after we had had coffee, discussed how much snow might impact our time together, signed the European paper work, established where the toilets were and what time we were to have lunch.

So, what did we do?  I didn’t ask them to share their job role, their experience of recovery, their expertise in the arts. I asked them to accept that there is ambivalence in almost every situation and to answer the question

“what percentage of you wants to be here and what percentage of you doesn’t?”

What happened then is that people felt safe to share both their fears and their enthusiasm for the coming three days in a boundaried way. People reflected that it was useful to hear that they were not the only ones feeling anxious about the training and worried about falling behind with work tasks. It was also heartening to hear that despite the

 

 issues facing people in their personal and professional lives, they were enthusiastic, happy to be in the room and ready to learn.

Asking people to introduce themselves with their job role and experience, a customary practice in training, immediately sets up a hierarchical atmosphere where we consciously and unconsciously compare ourselves to others. For me working through the arts is a way of groups coming together and connecting equally as human beings outside of the world of status, hierarchy and shame. This exercise creates feelings of safety and equality where everyone feels valued as they are, and we begin to create a space where we can see each other as allies and create together without fear of judgement.

Secondly it is helpful for “professionals” to reflect on their own experience of being in a new group situation and help build empathy for the people that they work with who will bring their own ambivalences to any situation. By reflecting on their own experience, they may gain a deeper understanding of the experience of those in addiction recovery.

Thirdly and most importantly, ambivalence is crucial to artistic expression and allows space for us to work with and acknowledge our ambivalent and sometimes contradictory impulses. For example, “I want to know other people and be known” and “I fear being judged by others”. If we work through theatre and improvisation we can create characters that can contain this contradiction. If I am playing a character, it is not me. The audience, fellow trainees, cannot know how much of myself is in this role, so I can explore feelings and relationships safely without revealing too much. This lessens my fear of judgement so that paradoxically I may feel safe to give more of myself to the group. This is of course, not limited to theatre, a photograph, a drawing, a dance or any other art form has this ability.

In our current society, I don’t see much ambivalence. I see polarised opinions and definite stances. Through using the arts in recovery contexts, I believe we can learn from and create through the ambivalence in all of us. I will leave you with F. Scott Fitzgerald:

“– the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise. This philosophy fitted onto my early adult life, when I saw the improbable, the implausible, often the “impossible,” come true. “

 

Kate McCoy – April 2018

Thinking about Evaluation Creatively in a Creative Project

posted 9 Mar 2018, 01:39 by Catherine West

Our project team bring a fantastic range of perspectives, in both disciplines and management practices. We are discovering EVALUATION is an area with prevailing norms – with variations from disciplines and cultures (particularly cultures of work environments). We are actively learning from one another and expanding our approaches to find powerfully effective ones for art in health and well-being contexts.

As a funded project – and as a research initiative involving participants – we are evaluating participant experience, project progress, and comparing feedbacks cross-culturally. A rich and varied resource pool is emerging. In the process of implementing a “normal” evaluation, what we tend to do in arts programmes is attempt to fit square pegs into round holes. The arts are not often concerned with measures, statistics, outputs and so on, although these may work for example in singing to improve breathing, or dance to improve physical wellbeing.

With arts programmes intended for mental health improvements, some of the intended outcomes are more to do with human experiences that are not always measurable: “Feeling good”, “happy”, “at one with one’s self”. We could add other human emotions such as love, freedom from fear and so on.

Now of course, some of this may be captured by qualitative research.

Our Italian colleagues have devised two surveys of participants (differentiated between artists and health workers in conjunction with their first round pilot training. These will shortly be added to our page about Pilot Training in Italy

A German colleague – who particularly specialises in helping shape training programmes – provided this commentary  following an observational evaluation approach

A UK colleague has shared a tool developed in the UK by an artist youth outreach worker that is now used in a range of settings all over the world particularly to assess emotional perspectives and break down emotional blocks.

In evaluating our own progress against project requirements, we are learning about the impact of evaluation on the artistic process: As of the completion of our first round pilot training activities, two of four groups have commented that evaluation feels too frequent, and repetitive. However, we are also observing its fundamental importance to devising and delivering something that is successful. One of our colleagues has said, “The evaluation tool is fundamental within a project path. It gives you the opportunity, during the course of the activities, to see the critical and strength points and to make adjustments. In experimenting with a number of evaluation tools, we’re finding that even though the tools are different, the tools are replicating the questions, and we often write the same answers. Something designed for our specific needs – is emerging as very important.”

Another colleague has observed, “A few years ago I evaluated a programme implemented amongst people with profound learning disabilities. I was really struck with how “normal” evaluation methods were fairly useless. What I really wanted to do was to film the participants enjoying themselves. The viewer could then see what I could see, the wonderful affect upon a person with no verbal skills. Traditional methods may insist upon confidentiality, thus anonymising and potentially silencing this voice (expression). Researchers amongst children have made great advances in using creative methods in research and evaluation and I wonder if whilst working with adults in mental health programmes we should learn from such methods.”

In this project therefore our evaluation fulfils the requirements of the funders, but we are also capturing testimonies through film, photographs and the written word. Together they make for rich evidence. Unfortunately because the world is the way it is, the concept of evidence is often limited to that which is considered scientific. We hope through this project, that we can help create artistic evidence that is more meaningful and creative than a set of statistics ever could be.



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