author: Megan Thomas, MAc
On a sunny San Francisco Sunday, Linda Chapman, MA, ATR-BC a force in the local art therapy community, met with members for a brief introduction to her neurodevelopmental art therapy approach. Drawing on the paradigm shift from rational and analytical analysis of behaviors, Chapman and the field of art therapy itself have embodied an emphasis on the integrative and affective right brain where the mind-body-self connection lies. With 70% of physical and mental growth occurring post-natal, the ability to understand and create secure attachment without spoken, rational language is essential in developing the supportive structures in the central nervous system. Based in this sound developmental model, Chapman explored her four-phase treatment structure that emphasizes right hemisphere interactions, developmentally appropriate and supportive art constructs, as well as unwavering safety, consistency and regulation modeling. With a slew of intriguing art directives from bilateral drawing warm-ups to long-term ‘A Room of One’s Own’ sculptures, Chapman shared her experience, courage and innovation in her work with chronically traumatized youth at the Art Therapy Institute of the Redwoods.
As a new student in the field, I was amazed at her broad repertoire of art tasks and the almost limitless ways she spoke about engaging and helping her clients grow. A final task invited us to think of something challenging we were facing, absorb how it made us feel or think, and then to draw those reactions in an abstract or formless way. The ensuing discussion brought insight, both into the formal practice of dialoguing with an image, and into the personal realm of self-awareness. When Linda asked who learned something from the short, ten minute experiential, every single person raised their hand. It goes to show, modeling and preparing a space for thought and expression truly does allow for astounding growth and creation. I left the workshop calmed, inspired, and hungry to learn more. If you would like to learn more about her professional work, her book Neurobiologically Informed Trauma Therapy with Children and Adolescents is available, and workshop listings can be found at http://www.arttherapyredwoods.com/workshops-overview/
Thank you to all the members of NorCATA who support, attend, and contribute to the field. As a beginner in the field, experiences like these inspire and renew my commitment to this powerful practice.
This blog is authored by members of our board, regional representatives and by various guest authors who are NorCATA members.