Charles Cheek, along with Nari Baker who is also a student/ trainee at Antioch, is a recipient of the 2018 Washington Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (WAMFT) Diversity Scholarship Award. The award supports continued studies and training in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT).
A third-year MFT student in the second quarter of his internship, Cheek is appreciative of the award for the financial support it will provide while he is in school as well as the platform it provides to build on in terms of networking. Most of all, he appreciates the sense of validation, recognition, and belonging that goes along with the award. The annual conference where the awards are presented was, from Cheek’s perspective, a “meeting of the minds” with MFT professionals with all different backgrounds and levels of experience. Through panels, breakout sessions, and conversations with other therapists, Cheek not only learned about emerging trends in therapy and research, but he also gained a sense of community and group support. “The conference really promoted cross-sharing of information in the field,” he said. “I was exposed to a lot of new insight, such as the effect of the current medical landscape and how it directly affects clients well-being.”
To think that Cheek almost didn’t apply for the scholarship! He sent his application in just before the deadline. When asked why he talked about the many other talented people who qualified for the award. “You second-guess yourself sometimes,” he said. “When not many people in the field look like you… people of color can sometimes experience a sense of imposter syndrome.” He is very happy that he applied and feels a huge sense of encouragement from the community support both implied by the award, and experienced at the WAMFT conference.
Cheek has spent much of his adolescent and adult life working with a diverse array of families from different backgrounds. He is from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where his first job at age sixteen was as a camp counselor at a day camp in the housing project where he grew up. He went on to become a Washington Service Corps/ AmeriCorps volunteer in 2013 where he worked with immigrant and refugee families. With Americorps, he created and implemented programming for teens coming out of refugee status/ situations. The focus was a hip-hop social club that included songwriting and lyrics analysis and how the meanings could be related to the participant’s lives, with a focus on media awareness and its influence on how different groups of people are represented and perceived in society.
More recently, Cheek worked in social services in Seattle before entering graduate school at Antioch in the fall of 2016. He said that the key features of the Antioch MFT program for him are the excellent support provided for interns, and the concentrated hours of direct support on campus. “You’re not lost in the woods trying to work with clients,” he said. “The faculty place a lot of emphasis on being attuned to your own levels of transference and countertransference. Self-awareness as a therapist is really important.”
In early June 2018, the Antioch University Seattle Drama Therapy community came together to celebrate and honor Drama Therapist Bobbi Kidder, MA, RDT/BCT. This event was first organized as her Faculty Final Reflection. However, it quickly blossomed from a one-woman final reflection into an ensemble variety show hosted by Kidder, featuring Drama Therapy students and alumni performing dramatic art, poems, songs, speeches, human machine sculptures, audience participation, sing-alongs and more! The room was rich with love for Kidder, whose students told multitudinous tales of her positive influence in their lives, helping her students find creative, career, and personal direction in life, while encouraging them to grow and nourish their own unique voices.
Although Kidder is stepping down as AUS Drama Therapy Co-Coordinator, leaving this role in the capable hands of fellow Co-Coordinator Dr. Fred Landers, she will continue to teach some classes at AUS as Adjunct Faculty. For example, Kidder will continue to teach Family of Origin classes for CFT and CMHC Creative Arts Therapies (CAT) students alongside CAT chair Dr. Janice Hoshino.
(Original article written by Bailey Rahn at Leafly)
AUS alumnus, mental health professional, graduate professor, and licensed art therapist, Michael Buchert, is highlighted in a Leafly article, as he takes the author through a facilitated art therapy session, cannabis not just included, but required.
The experience was mind-altering, says Bailey Rahn the writer. “The mandalas appeared as a mirror of the mind, a literal illustration of what was happening in each of our heads after cannabis dismantled this dam of perfectionism.”
If cannabis has this capacity to encourage self-expression and introspection why wouldn’t any therapist want to use it in their own practice?
Because currently, it’s illegal under Washington State Law.
Antioch University Seattle Dean of Students Shana Hormann, PhD, is presenting at the Pacific Northwest Regional Student Veteran Conference hosted by the University of Washington-Tacoma on April 20, 2018.
Hormann, along with her colleague and AUS Organizational Psychology alumna Kristin Cox, MA, will present on organizational trauma. Their presentation is titled “From Organizational Trauma to Organizational Resilience” and will focus on how unaddressed trauma can affect a team’s effectiveness and how leaders and team members can work together to overcome organizational trauma and strengthen individual and team resilience.
“Many of our student veterans have worked in teams that were traumatized,” Hormann says. “Research has focused on military service personnel and first responders’ compassion fatigue, PTSD, and secondary traumatic stress. However, there has been almost no focus on organizational trauma. The phenomenon is little understood, with responsibility and blame being on individuals with no recognition of the systemic nature of the trauma experienced. I hope this workshop will provide a lens, that is, concepts and language for people to understand their experiences from an organizational perspective.”
Hormann’s work with traumatized organizations began in 1998. Along with her colleague and co-author Pat Vivian, Hormann authored the book Organizational Trauma and Healing and set up a website for people who want to learn more about the phenomenon.
Chances are you have been affected by addiction in some way, whether it’s personally or professionally. Because it is a chronic disease, like diabetes or heart disease, there is no cure. However, it can be managed and people can, and do, recover.
Antioch University Seattle recently launched a new addictions concentration for students enrolled in the Clinical Mental Heath Counseling and Couple and Family Therapy programs. Faculty member and addictions specialist Lisa Rudduck is overseeing the concentration, which offers students an opportunity to learn the latest about how to work with clients struggling with addiction and their affected significant others. “The new addictions concentration will help students feel a lot more competent to go into individual sessions, family or couples’ sessions, and group sessions with clients who have addiction,” Rudduck says.
Addiction is a multidimensional issue, which effects a person biologically, psychologically, and socially. Commenting on the opioid epidemic, Rudduck says, “The reality is that opiate addiction and other addictions have been a major public health issue for a really long time. One of the things I love about having the addiction concentration available now is we have five whole classes to study and discuss the complicated relationships between our health care system, the pharmaceutical industry, the variety of opinions and views on addiction in the field of psychology, cultural issues, political issues, and even how the explosion of technology may be contributing to addiction. There is the issue of how to be effective in treating addiction, and then there are systemic and societal issues that we need to struggle with to really begin to understand “why” this has always been, and continues to be such a major public health issue”.
To be effective in counseling individuals struggling with addiction, understanding the relationship between trauma and addiction is necessary. “Learning how to work with clients who have a traumatized nervous system is imperative in addiction counseling because of the high correlation between trauma and addiction,” Rudduck says. “As a field, we have learned so much about the neuroscience of addiction and of trauma in the last twenty years. I am very dedicated to creating an addiction concentration that teaches trauma informed approaches as I want our students to be out front, leaders in the field”. She adds a reminder that successful treatment looks different from client to client and population to population. Being flexible is a key component to successful treatment.
On a practical level, the addictions concentration gives students an opportunity to specialize in something, making them more marketable in the field after graduation. The State of Washington recently passed a new set of rules that allows seven professions, including licensed mental health counselors and licensed marriage and family therapists to become Chemical Dependency Professionals via the “alternative learning” track. Where the previous rules required 45 credits of learning in order to become a CDP, for those seven professions, now only 15 are required. The addictions concentration meets those requirements. The ability to have two credentials opens the door to new internship sites and possibilities after graduation. For students interested in working in residential treatment centers in Washington, for example, being a CDP is a requirement.
The addictions concentration also fits in to Antioch’s social justice mission. Addiction is a stigmatized condition that often doesn’t get much empathy, compassion, or understanding. For students, the addictions concentration can help them develop these traits, making them better prepared to serve those who struggle with addiction. “There is a lot of shame and self-hate that people with addiction carry, and many times the addiction has robbed them of their purpose, their life force, and the gifts they have to give the world,“ Rudduck says. “If our students can be out in the community, and can see beyond the addiction and help people come out of the darkness, that’s what we’re all about.”
AUS Couple and Family Therapy with Drama Therapy alumnus Todd Kulczyk is thriving as a psychotherapist and drama therapist in Iceland. After graduating in 2016, Kulczyk became licensed as an LMFTA in Washington State, but moved to Iceland to be with his husband.
He currently works as a psychotherapist and drama therapist with individuals, couples, and families through multiple organizations in Iceland, including Samökin 78 (an LGBTQIA+ organization), Hallgrímskirkja (a Lutheran church), and his private practice, Therapy Cooperative. A natural leader, Kulczyk was nominated to join the Association of Family Therapists in Iceland board in September, and now he’s on their committee to create educational standards for family therapy licensure in Iceland. He is also on the steering committee for the Nordic Art Therapies Conference for 2018.
Kulczyk was also invited by the University of Iceland to lead a two-day workshop on creative interventions with couples and families in November 2017. He also recently led Distant Voices, a drama therapy project that uses “an interactive narrative to visually recount stories of immigrants and asylum seekers allowing insight into different realities and experiences,” which was performed by the Icelandic community.
Congratulations to Antioch University Seattle Couple and Family Therapy core faculty member Kirk Honda, who recently published his book Multirole Clinical Supervision: Evidence, Reflections, and Best Practices. Honda was inspired to write about clinical supervision two years ago after a CFT student asked him about his philosophy of clinical supervision. He began writing a short paper on supervision but as he reviewed the research and reflected on his experiences in supervision, the paper slowly grew into a book.
Passionate about the topic of clinical supervision, Honda believes equipping supervisors with the skills and tools to supervise effectively is key to supervision success. “My life mission is to make a positive difference in the world, and helping the helpers is my humble effort toward meeting that mission,” he says.
In the book, Honda shares meaningful personal experiences around supervision that shaped how he thinks about clinical supervision in the field. “I was fired from my first internship by an abusive, ineffective supervisor who almost put an early end to my career as a therapist,” Honda recalls. Throughout the book, he writes about this experience and shares what he learned from it.
Along with his personal examples, and those from other supervisors and supervisees, Honda’s book can help readers learn about the evidence-based best practices of the 19 crucial roles in clinical supervision.
As a CFT, CMHC, or creative arts therapy student, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you start thinking about your upcoming internship. How do you choose a site that’s a good fit for you? When should your start applying? What do prospective internship sites look for in an applicant? All of these questions and more may be on your mind as you get closer to internship.
Michelle Byrd, MA, and Director of Clinical Training, offers some tips and tricks for making the internship preparation process a little smoother:
Know your plan of study! Be sure to check the CFT or CMHC handbook to make sure you have taken all of your prerequisite courses. Nothing is more frustrating than thinking you’re all set for internship only to discover you forgot about that one class you have to take before you can start.
Meet with your academic advisor more than the minimum times required. Checking in with your advisor regularly can help you make sure you’re on track and gives you an opportunity to build a valuable relationship with a faculty member.
Get familiar with the available resources. As an enrolled counseling student, you have access to the Clinical Training Hub in Sakai. This is a rich resource for practicum and internship information, including a list of current sites in your area.
Talk to other students. Your fellow students can share their internship experiences, which may lead you to a site that would be a good fit for you.
When you are considering sites, make sure your on-site supervisor is appropriately credentialed. There is a frequently updated list of approved supervisors in the Clinical Training Hub on Sakai, as well as instructions on how to get a new supervisor approved.
Get your therapy hours! Make sure you’ve completed the required 20 hours of personal therapy before you start your internship.
Make sure the site you’ve chosen can provide you with the hours you need. For example, if you are a CFT student, you’ll want to choose a site that has enough family clients to ensure you’ll get your 250 required relational hours.
Byrd also recommends that you start applying for internship at least two or three quarters before you want to start. Waiting until the last minute will make it more difficult to find a site that’s a good fit. In addition, some sites may only accept interns at certain times of the year, so it’s good to know well in advance where you’d like to apply.
Once you’re ready to begin applying, check the websites of the sites you’re considering. They may have applications online that you can fill out and submit. Many times, these applications are found under the Volunteer section.
When you’re applying to sites, be sure to have your resume and a cover letter ready and on hand. Many sites also require letters of recommendation, while others need contact information to speak to faculty, so be sure to talk with faculty about recommending before you begin applications. For your cover letter, Byrd says most sites want to know why you want to be a counselor. “Demonstrate that you’re curious and flexible,” she says. “You don’t need to know everything, just show you’re willing to learn.”
Following these recommendations can go a long way in alleviating your internship preparation stress and ensuring that you end up at site that is a good fit for your personality and therapeutic interests. If you have any questions about the process of applying, Byrd says she is happy to answer your questions. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The last weekend in October, from Thursday, October 26, to Sunday, October 29, at Key Arena, Antioch University Seattle’s (AUS) psychology, counseling, and therapy graduate programs were on the frontlines of the Seattle Center Foundation’s fourth annual Seattle/King County Clinic. The clinic is a non-profit healthcare event, which gathers providers from around the state to provide free medical, dental, vision, and mental health services to underemployed and underinsured populations in the Seattle area.
Coordinated and directed by Dan Dodd, PsyD, AUS graduate students Melody Day, Lisa Holombo, Jennifer Law, Jesse Marshall, Samantha Spencer, Holly Wilder, and William Zogg, under the supervision of clinic director Doug Wear, PhD, clinical supervisor Dug Lee, PhD, and adjunct professor Dr. Dodd, provided mental health counseling services in a direct, face-to face clinical setting. The students, along with adjunct professor Joel Bell, PhD, also provided counseling and intervention services throughout the arena and to those waiting in line outside. “These are people who have been up for 28 hours, many are hungry and in pain.” says Dr. Dodd. “The students were there to assess and address their mental health needs as well as encourage the clients to continue through with their medical, dental, and vision services, and to provide support in managing their stress and anxiety.”
Overall, Antioch Seattle’s team provided clinical counseling for over 106 clients, and support/stress management services for 113 clients around the arena. Dr. Dodd has been participating in the clinic since its inception in 2014. “What strikes me,” he says, “is that the amount of patients served hasn’t lessened since then. Regardless of the number served, there’s still a population in need.”
Samantha Spencer shared her experience volunteering at the clinic this year: “I have personally never heard of anything like this: free vision, dental, and medical care. And many insurance providers do not cover dental or vision any longer. I am so thankful Antioch, among all the universities in Seattle, continues to display a sense of social justice by encouraging students to volunteer.”
She encourages her fellow students to take action: “Antioch Seattle’s commitment to social justice can include things such as volunteer work and involvement in politics to running workshops and living more compassionately in the world. I think this opportunity allowed me to apply the skills and education I learned in the classroom to genuine folks in Seattle. I wish more students would volunteer in the future because it is a humbling opportunity. I will never forget this experience and hope to volunteer in many years to come.”
For more opportunities as AUS students to volunteer, please contact your program chair:
Antioch University Seattle’s Fred Landers, core faculty member and coordinator of the Drama Therapy program, recently had a book review published in the Drama Therapy Review. Landers reviewed Routledge International Handbook of Dramatherapy by Sue Jennings and Clive Holmwood. Landers notes that the handbook is “destined to be a valuable resource for students, professionals, and those who are curious about the field of dramatherapy.”
Throughout his review, Landers uses drama therapist Warren Nebe’s metaphor of the glass jar in our lives. A moth who emerges from a cocoon in a glass jar cannot fully grow its wings because it is limited by the fixed space of the jar. Similarly, we are often locked into certain patterns of behavior and ways of being due to the determined nature (glass jars) in our lives. Drama therapy helps clients alter their glass jars, freeing them from harmful behaviors, identities, and spaces. “This handbook is important because it inspires us in our work of transforming glass jars, be they personal identities, cultural spaces or structures in a drama therapy session, altering the jars’ dimensions and contours to support the process of becoming,” Landers writes.
*You may access the article for free through the library’s subscription if you’re a student or faculty.
One of Mike Jahn’s goals after graduating from Antioch University Seattle’s Couple and Family Therapy program in June 2016 was to volunteer as a mental health worker to help those impacted by disasters. At the time, however, he had no idea how to begin working toward that goal.
Then, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey that devastated Houston in August, Jahn found his opportunity to help disaster victims. Jahn, who moved to Houston prior to internship (he found an internship site there), immediately took action when he saw the hurricane’s impact on the neighborhoods around him.
“I knew I wanted to use the information I learned at Antioch to help others who were affected by this natural disaster,” he says.
Jahn was inspired to become a counselor after his own process of going through counseling had changed him and enabled him to grow. When he began looking at schools, he appreciated Antioch’s class schedule flexibility and noted that Antioch stood out to him as being the top school in counseling. “Since I wanted to be at the top in my career, I knew that Antioch was where I had to go,” he says.
Throughout his time in the counseling program, Jahn learned how to listen to others without letting his own issues get in the way. He also learned not to take things personally. He credits Antioch with teaching him how to look deeper into client issues in order to help them see patterns and release self-blame, which opens the door to greater learning and lasting growth.
“I learned to have confidence in my ability to help others get through hard issues to a place of enjoying life,” Jahn says.
In Texas, that confidence in his ability led him to help others navigate the emotional aftermath of the hurricane. He helped co-found a support group, which joined with another group and met a local school for shelter, food, and clothing. When he saw a couple come in who looked like they were in shock from the events, Jahn immediately asked them if he could help them. They went to an area where they could talk privately and Jahn used solution-focused therapy to help them take on their new challenge with creativity. Jahn knew he wanted to help more people; he just needed to figure out how to find them.
Not long after, Jahn drove to an area that was no longer under water and began knocking on doors, asking people if they needed help. He introduced himself as a counselor and let them know he was a volunteer with a couple of organizations who had volunteers ready to help.
“Most people I spoke with were in a daze and some started crying,” he says. “They didn’t know what to do, where to start, and 95 percent of them did not have flood insurance.”
Jahn used solution-focused therapy with the flood victims. He talked to more than 100 homeowners in the week that followed, using that model of therapy to help them get through the shock of their loss. “Many of them lost almost everything ¾ they only had their lives left,” he recalls.
Days later, Jahn participated on a panel of speakers who addressed hundreds of hurricane victims. He talked about managing stress in the wake of a disaster and offered five free counseling sessions to anyone affected by the hurricane; he currently sees those who took him up on his offer in his private practice.
He continued knocking on doors in areas that were getting ready to rebuild, offering solution-focused therapy to those who needed it.
Feeling the call to help even more, Jahn signed up with the Red Cross as a mental health volunteer. Now, he visits communities around Houston with the Red Cross and talks with people who were affected by the flooding. Recently, he learned he can travel to Puerto Rico with the Red Cross for 12 days, doing the same work as a mental health volunteer that he has been doing in Houston. Volunteers are waiting for power to be restored so that the Red Cross can safely send them in to help the victims of Hurricane Irma.
Although he had an interest in disaster relief long ago, Jahn didn’t know how to offer mental health services to disaster victims until Hurricane Harvey struck. “Thanks to this experience, I now do. My plan is to volunteer once or twice a year with the Red Cross as a mental health counselor for the rest of my life. Thanks to Antioch, I have the skills to do that,” Jahn says.
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) and Play Therapy faculty are well represented at this year’s Washington Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Not only is AUS CFT Chair and Core Faculty Dr. Jennifer Sampson coordinating the conference, which takes place Saturday, September 30, 2017 in Seattle, WA, but AUS faculty are featured in six out of twelve of the conference breakout sessions.
Specifically, the AUS faculty presenting breakout sessions are Jerry Saltzman, Cary McAdams Hamilton, Kate Reeves (in two breakout sessions), Michelle Finley, and Kim McBride.
There’s been some skepticism in the field of art therapy; popularity aside, the distractions that figure into drawing digitally have, until recently, kept the practice out of the art therapist tool kit.
A tactile experience that lacks warmth and texture would surely disconnect rather than integrate a client’s mind, body, motion and thought, right?
Or would it?
In this age of portability and advancing technology, future forward research by Dr. Beth Donahue, Antioch University Seattle graduate and full-time Art Therapy faculty, addresses the cultural disconnect and provides evidence for the efficacy of digital media in the field of art therapy.
“People are increasingly using digital media to express their creativity and make meaning,” observes Donahue, who used an experimental, non-concurrent, multiple baseline single subject research design for her dissertation to examine, specifically, whether screens get in the way of therapeutic mandala creation.
According to Donahue, it’s the flow of the mandala that encourages mindfulness and distress tolerance; skills taught within the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) intervention strategy and measured in relation to vicarious trauma & anxiety in Beth’s study.
As defined by DBT developer, Dr. Marsha Linehan, the term “dialectical” means a synthesis or integration of opposites. Beth walks this edge, providing Art Therapy MA students in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) and Couple & Family Therapy (CFT) programs, and their clients, tools that meet them where they live.
Pre- and post-mandala reports of anxiety were consistent among Beth’s “digital immigrants” and “digital natives;” research subjects born prior to 1965, and millennials alike, reported no decrease in treatment effect as a result of migrating from traditional to digital media mid-study.
Artistic talent and familiarity with the technology varied among Beth’s subjects, but across the board, the artistic limitations and technological advances of the platform reportedly “took the pressure off.”
“With the iPad, shapes can be designed with precision. And a client can ‘undo’ at any time,” explains Donahue.
“Using digital media in the art therapy session means that I have to let go of being a perfectionist,” reported one artist-subject in the efficacy study. And perhaps, as the Seattle skyline shifts and views of the Sound are further restricted, this reframe might be suggestive of a larger trend.
“Technology is a part of our clients’ future,” Dr. Donahue maintains. “Art Therapists will need to look for ways to embrace it, or risk being left behind.”
The 2017 Belltown Chalk Art Festival is coming to our neighborhood this Saturday, September 9! Antioch University Seattle Art Therapy Teaching Faculty Michael Buchert is one of this year’s featured artists.
In his artist bio on the festival website, Buchert says “I will begin inside the square with a single line as I always do, with no idea what will happen next. Then, the work will happen quickly, continuously, yet intentionally, and ends only when the piece lets me know that another mark needn’t be made. Each time I look upon a completed piece, I know that I have done my part to put an end to the cycle of violence.”
Bell Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenue (just one block from Antioch University Seattle), will be closed to traffic from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for the festival, during which time artists will create 10′ x 10′ works of art in the street using impermanent chalk pastel or tempera paint.
Several years ago, while visiting Washington D.C., I boarded a bus to the Capitol Mall from a point located in a poorer section of the city. Upon boarding, I was greeted with blank facial expressions and slumped body language that spelled “exhaustion and despair”, most likely resulting from feeling the lifelong weight of poverty and racism. Being a white, fairly affluent stranger whose relatives openly exhibited anti-Black racism, I found myself struggling with a strong mix of emotions: Guilt, fear and alienation being the most prominent. My first inclination was to close down my empathy and desire to connect, thus violating my personal and professional commitment to assist in opening up channels of meaningful dialogue between members of marginalized and privileged groups and belying the tone of my work on social advocacy.
It was at this point that I noticed a young child, probably around two years of age, whose demeanor mirrored that of the adults around her. Although she was in close physical proximity to her mother, they seemed to be locked in their independent closed universes. Possessing an affinity and ease with children most likely led to my focusing attention on that young girl with a warm, relaxed, inviting smile. She caught my gaze and, for a short period, continued to manifest the same blank, unresponsive facial expression and body language, while continuously glancing back. A short time later a tinge of curiosity began to overtake her expression, and I could feel my smile deepen.
Soon thereafter, her eyes lit up a bit, and some playful expressions found their way into her face, expressions that I mimicked in a subtle manner with a heightened sense of playfulness on my face. She then upped the ante by making more strikingly playful expressions, which I met in a similar manner. Soon she began to make movements with her body and began to smile as I mimicked them, feeling my smile broaden and my facial expression brighten as it does when I enjoy playful bouts with my grandchildren and young clients.
As our mutual movements increased in intensity, other passengers, including the girl’s mother began to take note, smiles beginning to show on their faces. As my new playmate and I continued to unabashedly exaggerate our movements, the other passengers began to follow suit, ultimately leading to singing and dancing. By the time the bus approached my stop, the atmosphere on the bus became transformed into a celebratory one. As I (reluctantly, at this point) exited the bus I received many appreciative “good-byes”.
Effectiveness of Playfulness
Reflection on the playful connection described in this vignette provides clues regarding the effectiveness of playfulness as a vehicle to enhance family and clinical relationships. According to Schwartz and Braff (2012) play includes openness, novelty, flexibility, lightheartedness, cooperation, risk taking, trust, positive emotion, behavioral flexibility, and interpersonal connection. Many of these were present in the interaction described above. Playful connections that are healing contain an egalitarian element that tends to balance unequal power dynamics. When working with children in a clinical setting, a more egalitarian approach invites cooperation and connection.
An analysis of the factors contributing to the transformations that occurred on the bus that day might include a discussion of the implicit messages contained in the interactions and their likely impact on a number of core issues with which all humans seem to grapple. They can be conceptualized as the degree we feel that we are good, valuable, worthy of respect, etc; the degree to which we feel seen by and connected to others; the degree of personal power or sense of effectiveness; the degree of felt safety; the degree to which we feel hopeful; and the degree to which we are able to trust our perceptions of situations and think independently.
Struggles with these issues impact identity formation, our sense of our place in the world, and underlie, to some extent, most of our emotionally based issues and dysfunctional interactions. Addressing these issues with clients has become the core focus of my clinical practice, and I have found that the use of playfulness has been highly effective in helping clients to access and resolve them.
Healing Through Play
Returning to the vignette, one can visualize how, through play, I was offering an interaction that addressed these core issues. With a warm, relaxed, persistent gaze in my playmate’s direction and willingness to engage with her on terms that she set, I seemed to convey the message that I liked her, that she was valuable and important. By providing the room for her to relate to me on her terms and to take the lead in our interactions I most likely reinforced her sense of power.
My accurate mimicry of her movements and sounds indicated that I “saw” her, and most likely validated her effectiveness in communication even though it was non-verbal. Each time I reflected back to her these sounds and movements, she was able to engage her intellectual curiosity and creativity, defining what was playful for her and testing out responses to her sense of play.
Providing the room for young people to take the lead in play provides a welcome relief from the all-too-numerous situations where they do not have control. Her sense of power and effectiveness, coupled with my openness and vulnerability most likely contributed to my playmate’s sense of safety and trust, encouraging her to keep the connection with me and accelerate the playful interactions. Finally, in this scenario, our interaction invited my playmate and myself to experience hopefulness: The hope that people can connect in any context, at any time, and the hope that the image of white people can possibly be altered by those who have been so deeply marginalized by our domination. By the time I left the bus I no longer felt guilt, fear, or alienation and, by the response I received as I left, the atmosphere of despair had also been lifted.
Schwartz, R. & Braff, E. (2012). We’re no fun anymore: Helping couples cultivate joyful marriages through the power of play. New York:
Teaching Faculty, School of Applied Psychology, Counseling and Family Therapy SEE PROFILE
In the past several years, adult coloring books have landed in the main stream of society, and in doing so, they have helped to raise awareness towards the therapeutic benefits of art making. Traditionally, coloring has been an activity that many people associate with early childhood, however the research around adult coloring books has come to show a variety of mental health benefits.
Adult coloring books, not to be confused with participating in actual art therapy, has proven to be both therapeutic and beneficial as it becomes a form of mindfulness meditation (2). Studies have shown that adult coloring can be helpful for stress reduction, anxiety, depression, focus, and concentration. Additionally, adult coloring has also helped people to cope with other mental health disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, dementia, anger management, substance abuse, and eating and binging disorders (3).
Adult Coloring Books Have Real Benefit
You may be thinking, “How can coloring in a coloring book have such an impact on mental health?” Excellent question! Basically, the act of coloring becomes a self-soothing action that isn’t too complex, can be done anywhere, and is easy to access. When coloring an intricate design within an adult coloring book, both sides of the brain are engaged and focus is heightened (3). This occurs because the participant is creating balance, is choosing their color pallet, is problem solving and they are incorporating their fine motor skills, all simultaneously (3). As a result, coloring can provide a switch from negative thought and behavior patterns and to healthier, safer coping strategies. According to Neuropsychologist Dr. Stan Rodski, “tasks with predictable results, such as coloring or knitting, can often be calming” (1) and adult coloring books create a less intimidating platform for those who may not consider themselves to be natural artists (1).
Mandala Art For Transgender Pride
Mandalas are an example of an intricate design, and are popular themes in coloring books. Art therapy student, Beckett Weeks, drew a transgender pride mandala for Pride 2017, available for free download. Download the mandala, print it, and color as you see fit, and see if coloring provides you relaxation and mindful meditation.
Written by Art Therapy student, Jaimie Lyon. About being in AUS’s art therapy program, Jaimie says, “After nearly ten years of working towards pursing art therapy as a study, I am finally in my first quarter at Antioch University Seattle! I look forward to the developmental growth this program can offer and acquiring the skills needed to help guide other’s artistic explorations towards healthier lives.”
Dovey, D. (2015, October 8). The Therapeutic Science Of Adult Coloring Books: How This
Childhood Pastime Helps Adults Relieve Stress. Retrieved from
Antioch University Seattle Core Faculty, Alumnus, and previous Chair of our Couple and Family Therapy program, Dr. Kirk Honda was recently consulted for an American Psychological Association featured article, “Coping With Challenging Clients”. This article appears both online and on page 55 in the print version of the July/August 2017 edition of Monitor on Psychology.
“Coping With Challenging Clients” opens with an anecdote from Honda about a time he experienced a “mini anxiety attack” while on the receiving end of hostile comments from two members (a father and daughter) of a therapy client family. He handled the situation by asking the clients to stop talking for a moment, giving himself a brief time out to calm down and collect his thoughts, and with the help of another member of the client family (the mother), he was able to repair his therapeutic relationship with the client family.
Honda advises the readers of this article to remember the importance of taking the high road when affected by client aggression, and to calm oneself rather than responding to hostility with hostility. Moreover, he argues that it can be fruitful to apologize to clients who are angry or dissatisfied with their therapists’ performance, “even if it doesn’t feel fair”. Honda says, “That can not only help de-escalate the situation, but can also further the ultimate goal of providing therapy”.
This June 29, 2017, Mark C. Russell, Core Faculty in our PsyD in Clinical Psychology program, and Establishing Director of our Institute of War Stress Injury, Recovery, and Social Justice, was once again published in the HuffPost.
A retired US Navy Commander and Military Clinical Psychologist, Russell is a tireless advocate for servicemembers and their communities, both during active service and after discharge. In this piece, he describes the power that the US military has in helping its servicemembers, and urges the military to take a leadership role in destigmatizing mental health care in the United States. In his words, “the military is so adept at changing attitudes that it’s not uncommon to hear of heroic self-sacrifices by individuals willing to eat an enemy’s hand grenade to protect their band of brothers and sisters”.
He also describes the complicated impact of discharging servicemembers with unidentified and/or untreated war stress injury back into civilian life, not only on the servicemembers themselves, but also the potential impact on veterans’ families, spouses, children, “and sometimes innocent by-standers”. Russell argues that identifying and treating war stress injury during military service, rather than waiting for servicemembers to transition into veteran life first, allows them to receive mental health treatment while connected to a military social support system, an “identity as a warrior”, and other benefits of military life.
One of the major reasons that hoarding disorder is one of the most complicated mental health issues to treat is that is a co-occurring disorder, which means that it is almost always (92% of the time, in fact) shows up alongside another mental health diagnosis- like major depressive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. The idea of co-occurring disorders helps guide the way we think about the behavior of people who are affected by them. We understand that the symptoms of one psychiatric disorder are highly intertwined with symptoms of the other.
The term co-occurring disorder (or dual or comorbid disorder) is typically used in the field of substance abuse treatment, referring to the idea that people who abuse substances like alcohol or drugs are likely to be struggling with another diagnosable mental health condition as well. For instance, if someone is struggling with alcoholism that is co-occurring with generalized anxiety disorder, we may explain that some of the behavior of abusing alcohol may be exacerbated, or made worse, when life gets particularly stressful and anxiety increases. From there, the outcomes of excessive alcohol use can create additional stress in a person’s life, which can further increase anxiety, thus increasing alcohol use. It’s a slippery slope.
Things are similar with hoarding disorder. By applying an understanding of co-occurring disorders, we can start to make sense about why efforts to address the symptoms of hoarding (like difficulty parting with items or excessively acquiring things) seem so difficult for the person struggling with them. For instance, if a person has co-morbid diagnoses of hoarding disorder and major depressive disorder, that person may really struggle with motivation to work on discarding items or struggle with paying attention and decision-making about their possessions. While symptoms of hoarding disorder do include having a difficult time parting with items, they do not include a lack of motivation, inattentiveness, or indecision. However, all three of those are symptoms of depression. In this case, the person’s depressive symptoms are making the symptoms of hoarding disorder even more challenging to manage.
There are a lot of diagnoses that can co-occur with hoarding disorder- in fact, almost any of them can. The most common ones are mood disorders (like depressive or bi-polar disorders) or anxiety disorders. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common co-morbid condition, as is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We also see a fair amount of other types of diagnoses alongside hoarding disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other types of organic brain illnesses, like dementia or schizophrenia. When symptoms of any of these other types of mental health diagnoses show up, it can make managing symptoms associated with hoarding to be a very difficult task.
As mental health professionals, we can use strategies developed for other co-occurring disorders in our effort to support our clients. By prioritizing treatment interventions that help reduce the most significant symptoms first, we can then work more easily on addressing the direct symptoms related to hoarding. For instance, if a client has a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder and is actively experiencing panic attacks, it would benefit the clinician to first work with the client on improving emotional regulation skills and distress tolerance prior to focusing attention on decision-making and discarding items.
By recognizing hoarding disorder as a co-occurring condition, we can help better understand the challenges people who hoard face and work with them to develop more effective approaches to treatment.
Art therapy is changing lives in China. “Big Miao” Shimming showed us how.
The room was set in an intimate fashion, full of colorful cushions strewn on the floor in preparation for Miao’s presentation. Miao, affectionately known as “Big Miao” because of his height, visited Antioch University Seattle (AUS) in May of 2017 to seek professional training and guidance in the art therapy field. On May 17, Miao gave a presentation on his important work. AUS staff and students were so eager to engage with Big Miao, they began asking questions right away in the evening’s Q&A session.
Big Miao began working AUS’s Art Therapy Program after reaching out to Dr. Janice Hoshino, Chair of Art Therapy.
“I observed Janice working and knew I needed her training!” exclaimed Miao. Hoshino, reaffirmed his story.
“WABC [World of Art Brut Culture], Big Miao’s art studio, is collaborating with AUS to gain professional training from registered art therapists.”
Dr. Hoshino has already led two Art Therapy workshops in China in collaboration with Big Miao and is looking forward to future trips this summer.
Big Miao began as an art curator and artist specializing in oil painting. In 2009, he came across the Special Needs population, moving his heart and changing his life. Since then, he has been transforming the lives of hundreds of people with “special needs” through creative expression. Big Miao opened World of Art Brut Culture, an art studio in which children and young adults with special needs come after school to paint, free of cost.
The majority of the students they work with are on the autism spectrum, have cerebral palsy, or have other varying developmental impairments. In a video Miao showed, the students spoke about their artwork, their own process, and the impact WABC has had in their life. Their teachers (they are not professionally trained art therapists) also speak about the students’ progress and involvement with WABC.
Parents of the students are pleased with the visible progress their children are making, noting the tangible transformation creative expression has brought into their lives. One audience member commended Big Miao’s hard work: “It’s apparent you have a huge heart, honorable intent, and are doing a wonderful service to your community.”
WABC has now opened public art centers in eight different cities in China (including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzghou, and Chengdu). They are collaborating with 32 different communities and schools and have served over one thousand children and families.
Big Miao plans various events and fundraisers, such as Cultural Creative Center, Dream of China, and Charity Night. These events have attracted large audiences and engaged the Chinese population.
The car company Infinity is a sponsor and has collaborated with the WABC students to create an art piece in their Beijing headquarters. WABC has also collaborated with various Chinese celebrities, pop stars, entrepreneurs, and CEOs. These events have brought healing and are changing how Chinese see and treat children with autism.
Through their work, WABC aims to foster a genuine connection between the Special Needs population and their Chinese community. They have empowered students to use their talents and have brought them closer to their dream of “being treated like everyone else.” There are 10 million people in China on the Autism Spectrum. There is a great need for psycho-education and awareness in China where people with special needs are not treated equally. Big Miao is among the first to do this kind of work in China, where most have no concept of art therapy.
“He is making inroads, paving the way, and doing fundamental work,” said AUS Drama Therapy faculty member Bobbi Kidder. “His progress is amazing!”
Despite this great progress, WABC and Big Miao recognize the road ahead still needs to be paved. There are still families who do not accept art therapy as a real treatment.
“Art therapy is a seed,” said Miao. “We are waiting for it to blossom.”
In order to gain more training and more empirical evidence to bring home to gain support, WABC partnered with Antioch University.
“We know art is powerful, transformative, and necessary,” said Miao, when asked how professional training can improve WABC. “However, we still have questions on technique, behavior, how to interact with families, fundamentals, how to gain all the therapeutic benefits of artistic expression, and how to properly raise awareness.”
Hoshino added, “The teachers in WABC are hungry to learn. I’ve done two trainings with them in China and over fifty people attended. My heart is really with this organization.” Both Antioch University Seattle and WABC are eager to share the benefits of Art Therapy with as many people as possible.
Big Miao concluded his presentation by showing his students’ stunning artwork. Big Miao smiled and happily invited AUS students to join him in China.
“We all have advantages and disadvantages,” said Miao. “Together we can make each other better!”
There are a number of reasons people become angry. Challenges at home, work, or on the road are common triggers that can lead someone to lash out or boil inside. And yet, sometimes we become angry with everything, including people or things we would normally be able to brush off. Anger, by its very nature, has us look outward to solve our problems. Yet, when we are angry with many things, it would be improbable – if not impossible – that we might be able to solve every problem. Most of us can identify with the moments when we are ready to explode at anything that comes near us. Think of parents of newborns who haven’t been sleeping, or that time you were really stressed. Or think of that time you were really hungry and especially crabby. Yes, I’m talking about being hangry.
My interests are in anger, aggression, and irritability. A lot of times people talk about reducing anger by figuring out how to solve the problem or by punching a pillow (which will actually make your anger and aggression worse in the long-term). However, when you are feeling irritable, these things won’t help. People often use the terms anger and irritability interchangeably. However, I’m going to ask that you think of them as two separate concepts. While anger is that tense emotion when your blood is boiling, irritability is the moment of grouchiness before you feel angry. When you are irritable you are more likely to become angry (which is why it is often associated with anger), but you might not be angry yet. For example, when you are hungry you might be irritable and will easily be angered, but you might not be angry yet. Similarly, when you are sleep deprived, hungry, or haven’t yet had your coffee you are likely to be irritable.
The reason for the distinction is important because when you are feeling angry, you might be able to reduce your anger by solving a problem. However, when you anger is a result of irritability, it would be more helpful to look for treatments that will first help you feel better. So next time you notice you are feeling angry at the world for no good reason (or are just looking for reasons to become angry), ask yourself what your body needs, and eat a sandwich, drink some water, exercise, get some fresh air, or get some sleep. You will feel better before you know it.
Michael J. Toohey, Ph.D.
Teaching Faculty, School of Applied Psychology, Counseling, and Family Therapy. SEE PROFILE
Antioch University Seattle envisions that its graduates this spring will emerge with a heightened sense of their power and purpose and be prepared to put theory into practice. With the Run Like A Girl summer program, AUS Practicum & Internship students in Drama Therapy (DT) will run into the woods and pass this same vision into the very capable hands of middle school girls.
The phrase “like a girl” calls into question a girl’s capability. And the fact that this micro-aggression is so often tied to sports performance is doubly damaging. Run Like A Girl celebrates the power that sports can provide, developing in girls the intentional active strategies we all need to build self-confidence and seize the day.
Run Like A Girl (2004) filmmaker Charlotte Lettis Richardson (also a decorated runner) credits losing races with teaching her the most about herself. And in her 2011 memoir, Run Like A Girl, champion athlete Mina Samuels outed her fiercest opponent—the one within. This August, AUS’s own local theatre-sports star, AUS Drama Therapy Co-coordinator Bobbi Kidder, MA, RDT/BCT, shines a light on Like A Girl fierceness and the power of story with a reframed “On the Road” student field experience at Table Rock Foundation summer camps.
Since 2014, Kidder has noted the high percentage of young girls referred to Camp Phoenix, the camp at Table Rock Foundation that serves middle school kids from Oregon’s Jackson and Josephine Counties who have experienced severe trauma. Given the emotional and physical changes naturally at work in the bodies of ten- to thirteen-year-old girls, Bobbi thought a powerful camp to run like girls, with girls, and for girls might be in order.
Run Like A Girl offers AUS intern urbanites a rare regional view of rural life. And by confronting derogatory definitions of girlness and the effect societal shaming can have on self-image, they will champion the campaign that is changing the narrative.
Kidder is no stranger to programs that focus on social justice and empowerment. Run Like A Girl takes a page out of the playbook Kidder used for Inside/Out, a community ensemble with young women prisoners at Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility. “We set the stage for recognizing assets—we create and share stories about them.” Kidder’s practice, strongly based on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, reframes concepts such as meaning, truth, and like a girl, and puts a voice to the oppressor within—sometimes multiple voices. Kidder calls it “performative.” “With Boal’s rainbow of desire aspect, we answer our own voices and silence the ones that hold us back.”
Alongside the camp’s Rainbow Grandmothers, and amidst the webs and native wisdom of a truly enchanted forest, it is intention and not service that Kidder and her interns provide. They will work together for moments of choice and potential, inspired by a quote from the Aboriginal elder and educator Lilla Watson: “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
“Big Miao” Shimming is trying to revolutionize the way China engages with special needs children – and he’s reaching out to Antioch Seattle’s Art Therapy program to help. Shimming will be visiting AUS on May 16 – 17. The public is invited to attend Miao’s presentation on his important work on May 17 from 3-5pm.
Shimming’s visit is part of a developing relationship between Antioch Seattle’s Art Therapy program and Worldwide Art Brut Culture(WABC), a Shanghai-based NGO Shimming founded in 2009. With a mission to help special needs children express themselves through art, WABC has so far opened 20 learning centers across China and has more than 50 teachers.
Janice Hoshino PhD, chair of Creative Arts Therapy at AUS, has traveled to China several times over the past year in order to help WABC train its volunteer teachers in art therapy. She says the fact that WABC is rapidly increasing the number of areas and individuals it serves is an impressive accomplishment given China has a long history of stigmatizing and punishing people with mental disorders: “Despite recent reforms, it’s still not unusual for persons with psychiatric issues to be involuntarily institutionalized,” says Dr. Hoshino.
Hoshino says the reason art therapy is gaining acceptance in China, and the reason WABC specifically has been able to attract donors like the Gates Foundation, comes down to the transformative process of art-making. She described one 20-something individual who took part in a WABC art therapy training she was involved in: “This young man has been mute for much of his life, and by the end of the training he was talking.”
Beyond the power of art therapy, Hoshino also gives credit for WABC’s success to the outsized personality of its founder: “With his infectious enthusiasm, kind heart and ready laugh, Big Miao is the perfect ambassador for the program.”
Most people are unaware of how their internal stories or the automatic ways personal meaning is ascribed to daily events influence what they believe about themselves. These self-narratives are often oppressive and can take the form of self-criticism, worry, fear, and hopelessness. It can be a persuasive argument where fatigue becomes about the climber, rather than the difficulty of the climb. Remember, we are not the problem; the problem is the problem.
When people are unbound by restrictive, and often oppressive truths about their lives, new options emerge for addressing life difficulties. As Michael White (2007) once wrote, personal change is about the “…re-authoring of the compelling plights of [our] lives that arouse curiosity about [personal] possibility and in ways that invoke the play of imagination”.
Imagination opens space for contradictory and divergent personal inner experiences: moments of exception from the usual automatic messages we give ourselves. These messages “team up” with feelings of powerlessness, worry, and doubt that serve to support internal notions of diminished worth and competence.
Although exceptional moments in which we remember how our positive emotions endured during adversity occur all the time, they are often dismissed as flukes, accidents, or trivial events. Imaginative remembering, then, is a noticing of resilient efforts and available strengths that often go unrecognized. It is a deliberate opening of perceptual space where remembering small increments of personal agency highlight degrees of freedom and choice.
By painting a vivid picture of how these exceptional moments withstood familiar oppressive narratives, a bridge from the known and familiar toward the unknown and the unfamiliar is established. This is where hope resides, and if traveled with intention, integrity and acceptance can also be found.
To assist with engaging your imagination to the experience of remembering, consider a moment when you were at your best (or closer to it). Make note of your reactions to the following questions and share with a learning partner:
What was different about you in than moment than from other life moments?
What feelings were more alive with you?
What parts of yourself were you tapping into that seemed to give rise to your best self?
How did your best self influence your wellness? The interactions you had?
What values were you holding close?
What was alive in you that gave rise to your sense of hope, creativity, and/or personal vitality?
It is a short step from remembering our best self to noticing these strengths, values, and actions during the routines of our day. It can give rise to the intentional use of inherent and often unrecognized efforts of personal resilience, and make present our best self even in face of our most difficult moments. Practice noticing:
The strengths you tap into that seem to give rise to your best self;
How the story you have of yourself highlight the values you wish to be of greater service to (e.g. gratitude, compassion, kindness, acceptance); and
In what ways might you predict changes in your life, if the knowledge gained from this exceptional moment were more alive in your daily life?
The remembering and noticing of exceptional moments can provide a point of entry for a broadening of how we think of ourselves.
Where there are deficits, there are strengths; where problems arise, there are preferences; where there is resistance, there is also anticipation; where there is illness, there are opportunities for wellness; and where despair resides, hope lives also.
This is often novel for people who have often been subject to the meanings internalized by others of their lives. Conversations that highlight exceptional moments provide people the opportunity to give voice to the values they wish to live more in accordance with.
So, remember the exceptional, make note of our best self…and imagine holding that wisdom close to you as you begin each day. –Colin Ward, Ph.D., LMHC.
Antioch University Seattle Dean of Students Shana Hormann recently traveled to our sister school, Panjab University in Chandigarh, India, to give a lecture and later lead a workshop on organizational trauma, as part of an event organized by Panjab University’s Centre for Human Rights and Duties. From her workshop description:
“Organizational trauma is a collective experience that overwhelms the organization’s defensive and protective structures and leaves the entity temporarily vulnerable and helpless or permanently damaged. Traumatic events can be sudden, shocking, and throw the organization into turmoil. Organizational traumatization may also result from repeated damaging actions or the deleterious effects of the nature of an organization’s work. Unaddressed organizational trauma–whether sudden or cumulative–causes serious harm and can be catastrophic for organizations. It negatively impacts service delivery, compromises work with clients, and weakens the organization’s ability to respond to internal and external challenges. Over time the unhealed effects of trauma and traumatization compromise the organization’s fundamental health.”
Hormann’s lecture was organized under the Memorandum of Understanding between Antioch University Seattle and Panjab University, and was one of many talks given that day. The event also included powerful words from Professor Swarnjit Kaur, Coordinator of the Centre for Human Rights and Duties on the proactive role the Centre has taken in strengthening its academic collaboration with universities an ocean away, such as Antioch University Seattle. Professor O. P. Katare, Director of the Research Promotion Cell presided over the lectures, and gave presidential remarks on the role of spirituality and the power of the mind to deal with trauma.
Russell served in the American military for 26 years, as a Marine Sergeant, a Navy Commander, and as a military psychologist deployed in support of the Iraq invasion in 2003, and he says this time “opened my eyes to the painful reality that our country was grossly negligent in its preparation to meet even basic [veterans’ mental health] needs.”
Upon retiring from the military, Russell founded Antioch University Seattle’s Institute of War Stress Injury, Recovery, and Social Justice, participated in documentaries such as Thank You For Your Service! and the upcoming Stranger At Home, and published a great deal of research on the subject of military mental health. Most recently, Russell and co-author Charles R. Figley, published a three-part series of scholarly articles in the March 2017 (available online in February 2-17) issue of Psychological Injury and Law, asking if the military’s frontline psychiatry/combat and operational stress control doctrine and programs help or harm veterans and their families.
In this Huffington Post piece, Russell also provides readers with an overview of the US government’s approaches to military mental health over the years, including critiques of the ways that policy has harmed, rather than helped, people who serve in the US military.
It’s the giving season and for many folks it’s a joyous time. But what if there’s more to it than simply picking out a gift someone will enjoy? How do we navigate the waters of mental health disorders in our loved ones in a time of giving while being mindful of our own needs? Jennifer Sampson, co-founder of The Hoarding Project, takes a closer look at how she helped one client deal with her mother’s hoarding disorder during the holidays.
“Can I ask you an unrelated question?” It was clear that my client didn’t feel like talking anymore about her latest run-in with her ex-husband and wanted to change the subject.
“Sure,” I smiled and nodded.
“Ok.” She took a deep breath, looking uncharacteristically anxious. “So…I’ve been worrying about what to get my mom for the holidays. She has already everything.” She hesitated. “Like… everything.” She looked up at me quickly, trying to read my expression. “What do you think?”
She was one of my favorite clients, and we had a positive and good-humored relationship with one another. She wasn’t generally a nervous person. Usually, she was upbeat and funny during our sessions in spite of the difficult work we’d been doing over the last few months to help her process a particularly devastating divorce, so her shift in mood was a little confusing to me. I brushed it off, assuming she was just being rhetorical with her question and wanted to lighten the mood a bit.
“You know,” I began to answer, “I really don’t know too much about your mom, come to think of it.” I shrugged and joked, “Socks? Fruitcake? I don’t know. What does she like? Or is she just tough to shop for?”
My client’s face was deadpan. “No, I mean it. Her home is literally full. She can’t even move around in it because she has everything. You work with this kind of thing, don’t you??”
Whoa. I had really missed that one.
Though hoarding disorder is my area of specialization, sometimes even I drop the ball in recognizing that this mental health concern can show up where I least expect it.
And of course it does. Hoarding disorder affects 1 in 20 people in our country, making it one of the most common mental health disorders around. Even though my client had not come to therapy to work on this issue directly, it was still one that touched her life, and as we continued our conversation, I came to learn that her mother’s hoarding had been affecting her since childhood, leaving her relationship with her mom to be fragile, at best.
Since hoarding disorder is a relatively new diagnosis and one around which there is still a tremendous amount of shame and stigma, it is very common for people not to be inclined to discuss it- even with their therapists. My client told me that she had thought about mentioning it to me at a few different points, but didn’t want me to think badly about her or about her mom.
During the holiday season, it’s especially important that we, as mental health professionals, are paying attention to potential hoarding-related concerns as our clients are going home to spend time with their families of origin. It is quite likely that at least one of them has a loved one who is struggling with hoarding disorder. Spending increased time with them around this season of the year may provoke strong emotional reactions which may be difficult for us to understand and work with if we don’t fully grasp the context behind the feelings.
Listening for comments and questions like the one my client asked, or about frustration around a relative’s housekeeping or shopping habits maybe markers that additional screening for hoarding disorder is indicated.
And as for my client’s question about what to get for a person who has everything- or at least for a person who hoards? I tend to recommend gifting experiences rather than items. Game night with the family, rather than a new scarf. Dinner at their favorite restaurant, instead of a new book. These types of gifts reinforce the importance of relationship-building rather than possessions, which, if we’re being honest, is important advice for everyone to follow.
Jennifer Sampson, PhD, LMFT is Associate Chair in the Couple and Family Therapy Program at Antioch University Seattle. She has been practicing individual, couple, and family therapy since 2007. Jennifer has served as the Executive Director and co-founder of The Hoarding Project since 2011, and she currently chairs the King/Pierce County Hoarding Task Force. She has published multiple articles in academic journals on hoarding, and completed her dissertation work on understanding the influences of unresolved trauma and loss and family dynamics on hoarding behavior
Dr. Farley received the Ned Farley Service Award at the 2016 annual American Counseling Association Conference and Expo, which was held in Montreal, QC, Canada, from March 21, 2016 to April 3, 2016.
While the award is a welcome surprise, Dr. Farley’s involvement as a leader within the ALGBTIC has been prominent for decades. In the words of Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling Editor-in-Chief Mike Chaney, “Ned’s service is so phenomenal that he was a leader in the association before there was an association! Now that it commitment!”
In 1993-1994, Dr. Farley was co-chair of the ALGBTIC with Michael Spretnjak. Dr. Farley was also one of the ALGBTIC members who worked tirelessly to get the ALGBTIC recognized by the American Counseling Association (ACA), first as an “organizational affiliate” by the ACA in 1996, and later as a full ACA division in 1997. In 1999-2002, Dr. Farley was a Board Trustee within the ALGBTIC, who chaired the Program Review Committee. In addition, Dr. Farley was the president of the ALGBTIC in 2002-2003 and again in 2004-2005. While president of the ALGBTIC, he helmed the push for creating a professional journal for the division. Upon its creation, Dr. Farley was the first Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, through his “retirement” in December 2015. He remains involved in this journal, however, by mentoring its current editor Mike Chaney.
Truly, Dr. Ned Farley has dedicated decades of his life to supporting the ALGBTIC. In the words of Mike Chaney, “Much of what ALGBTIC is today is, in part, due to Ned and his service. Though he probably would not refer to himself this way, but Ned is a forefather of the ALGBTIC. As such, he should be revered and applauded for all of his past and present service to ALGBTIC.”
Seattle, WA – Starting this fall, Antioch University Seattle (AUS) will offer classes in a new graduate program, designed for master’s level counselors who want to take their careers to the next level by gaining a PhD. This degree program offers cognate areas in either Counselor Education and Supervision or Creative Arts Therapy Counselor Education and Supervision.
In the words of the founders of this program, this degree is “designed for counselors who wish to enhance their professional competencies in research and evaluation, supervision, teaching, and counseling. It is appropriate for professional counselors who want to teach in counselor education and training programs and/or obtain leadership positions in mental health related agencies.”
The rigorous academic PhD curriculum is designed based on the national standards as recommended by the Council of Accreditation for Counseling Related Education Programs (CACREP) as well as those standards consistent in the clinical practice and supervision of creative arts counseling (e.g. art therapy, drama therapy, play therapy). The intention is to seek CACREP accreditation however we cannot assure that accreditation will be granted.
Students with a master’s degree in counseling, preferably from a CACREP accredited program such as the Clinical Mental Health Counseling master’s degree offered through AUS, will be able to transfer up to 74 quarter credits towards this 144-credit PhD program. In the words of Dr. Ned Farley: “If they can get all 74 credits transferred in, then it becomes a 70-credit-remaining doctoral program…It’s built around a 3-year degree process, going half time.”
In addition to following CACREP recommendations, this doctoral program will go above and beyond what other Counseling Supervision and Education programs offer in ways that make it uniquely Antioch. For example, in addition to providing a Creative Arts Therapy cognate which supports participation from AUS Creative Arts Therapy master’s graduates, this program will also support the AUS social justice mission by encouraging students to develop a multicultural counselor identity and an appreciation for diversity, while also requiring core coursework in social justice and advocacy.
Seattle, WA and Chandigarh, India – In October, 2015, Antioch University Seattle’s (AUS) Clinical Mental Health Counseling Core Faculty and Chair Colin Ward, PhD, LMHC, was a keynote speaker at the 3rd World Congress on Excellence, hosted by Panjab University, Chandigarh, in India. This visit helped pave the way for ongoing conversation between Panjab University and AUS. This conversation, in turn, has recently blossomed into a more formal relationship between the two schools, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
This thoughtfully written MOU was signed into existence this March, by Professor Arun Kumar Grover, the Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University, Chandigarh, and by Dan Hocoy, PhD, President of Antioch University Seattle. The representatives of the school who will be directly involved in the ongoing participation in the MOU are Professor Meena Sehgal, of the Department of Psychology at Panjab University, Chandigarh, and Jane Harmon Jacobs, PhD, the Academic Dean of Antioch University Seattle.
Although these schools are over 6,000 miles apart and located on opposite hemispheres, Panjab University, Chandigarh and Antioch University Seattle have much in common. Panjab University was founded in 1882. Its Department of Psychology, which was founded in 1959, is one of the largest Psychology programs in India. Antioch University was founded in 1852. Antioch University Seattle is renowned for its groundbreaking School of Applied Psychology, Counseling, and Family Therapy.
In their shared MOU, AUS and Panjab University, Chandigarh outline the scope of their collaboration, the duration of the MOU, and other matters. For example, the MOU describes itself as “designed to foster a friendly relationship between Antioch University Seattle and Panjab University through mutual cooperation in the areas of training, education, and research.” It further says “Each institution may offer the other opportunities for activities and programs such as teaching, research, exchange of faculty and students, and staff development that will foster a collaborative relationship.” The MOU elaborates, saying “The institutions contemplate implementation of programs or activities such as: a) joint educational, cultural, and research activities; b) exchange of teaching staff and advanced graduate students for research, lectures, and discussions; c) participation in seminars and academic meetings; d) exchange of academic materials, publications, and other information; and e) special short-term academic programs.”
On the subject of exchange students, the MOU says that a separate agreement will be needed, “stipulating the details of credit transfer, fees, participant qualifications, and quality assurance process before initiating the exchange of students or the acceptance of applicants as international students at either institution.” Moreover, MOU clarifies that “No financial obligations are assumed under this agreement.” And “The financing of any of the activities mentioned in this agreement shall be dependent on the availability of funds and shall be subject to specific agreements by which these activities may be accomplished.”
In essence, the MOU is the start of a formal relationship, which is expected to grow into multiple new agreements over the duration of its five years. It lays the groundwork for the creation of future collaborative projects. Antioch University Seattle’s social justice mission embraces diversity. Coming together in collaboration with an esteemed university on the other side of the globe is an especially rich opportunity to help our academic community members grow as world citizens.
AUS is one of only two programs in Washington to earn the designation
Seattle – Antioch University Seattle’s couples and family therapy program has been ranked as one of the most affordable in the country by Best Counseling Degrees, an online resource for exploring the nation’s best counseling degree programs. On the list of the top 50 programs, AUS’ came in at 33, and is one of only two programs from Washington to make the list. Read the article here.
“This designation highlights the competitiveness and affordability of our program, which along with ensuring extremely high levels of competence and professionalism, teaches students to systemically incorporate Antioch University’s commitment to diversity and social responsibility,” said Kirk Honda, core faculty and chairman of AUS’ counseling and family therapy specialization. “We work hard to make pursuing this important area of psychology as attainable as possible.”
The Best Counseling Degrees ranking was calculated using the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) database to identify the more than 100+ marriage and family therapy programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). It then used the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator database to identify the most affordable based on graduate tuition and fees. AUS is ranked at 33.
AUS’ MA in Marriage and Family Therapy with a specialization in couple and family therapy – which meets all state licensing requirements and includes a combination of experiential and in-class learning – is offered through AUS’ School of Applied Psychology, Counseling & Family Therapy. It boasts an 80 percent graduation rate and is taught by award-winning faculty who bring their clinical world experience to their classrooms, internships and the innovative Community Counseling and Psychology Clinic, where students gain supervised experience with the diagnosis and treatment of a range of mental health concerns.
AUS also offers a MA in Counseling with a clinical mental health specialization, and both MA options allow for concentrations in art therapy, drama therapy, or play therapy.
AUS’ Center is the first in Washington and one of only 27 in the United States to gain approval.
Seattle – The United States Association for Play Therapy recently designated Antioch University Seattle’s (AUS) Play Therapy Center as an Approved Center of Play Therapy Education. The approval recognizes AUS as an institution designated to generate more play therapy research, peer-reviewed publications, instruction, and supervised clinical experiences through its graduate level programs. AUS offers a play therapy certificate embedded within its clinical psychology programs, including Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy. AUS also has resources including a community psychology clinic.
“What makes our play therapy certificate program unique is that it is integrated throughout the university – specifically within the Master’s programs – so students may gain a second specialization while completing their degrees,” said Janice Hoshino, director of the Creative Arts Therapy Institute and faculty for the Couple and Family Therapy program at AUS. “Many people achieve their play therapy education through workshops, conferences and experiential learning, which means we provide a comprehensive approach to this exciting and emerging field.”
The study and practice of play therapy offers practitioners dynamic interpersonal relationship skills to provide children (or a person of any age) the ability to fully express and explore self through play, the child’s natural medium of communication, for optimal growth and development. “Play therapy helps children communicate their feelings to parents, teachers and other caregivers through creativity, which is a language we can all fundamentally understand,” said Cary M. Hamilton, adjunct faculty at AUS’ School of Psychology and a registered play therapist, play therapy supervisor and mental health counselor. “Empowering psychologists to find the connection between play and the therapeutic impact it can have on children working through issues of trauma, bullying, depression and other types of mental illness adds an important tool to a clinician’s toolkit.”
AUS is unique nationwide through its commitment to creative therapy programs. It offers three programs in this discipline: Art Therapy, Drama Therapy, and the newly-designated Play Therapy certificate, all which use the concepts of fun and expression to help people work through psychological and psychosocial issues in unique and powerful ways. AUS’s play therapy certificate program is one of only 27 in the country, and the only one in Washington State.
AUS’ program, through which students receive Registered Play Therapist (RPT) credentials, takes about one year to complete and includes twelve weekend-long seminars to enable working adults to fit studies into existing academic or professional schedules.
About Antioch University Seattle
Antioch University Seattle is a fully accredited, not for profit institution that is a bold and enduring source of innovation in higher education. Antioch University provides real world knowledge, skills, and experience to adult students online and from its five campuses in four states, in addition to its University-wide international and doctoral programs. The University lives by its mission every day helping students realize their potential and succeed in their educational goals through an innovative learning environment that is rigorous and responsive to their needs. Antioch University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools since 1927.
Antioch University Seattle Launches New Masters Concentration in
Play Therapy in Counseling and Family Therapy Programs
Certification also available for existing therapists
Based on its expertise in using different types of therapy to connect with individuals, Antioch University Seattle (AUS) announces the launch of a new play therapy concentration in its Counseling and Family Therapy master’s programs. The concentration is one of only a few in the nation, and centers on the unique healing modality that emphasizes expression and exploration through play, a natural medium of communication during growth and development.
“There is a growing need for play therapists in therapeutic and educational settings because of the unique and dynamic ways that people communicate and play therapy’s effectiveness in helping children and families process life events in a safe, structured and healthy environment,” said Cary Hamilton, the program’s chief faculty member. “We are very excited to be offering this opportunity to current and future students.”
The one-year program, which will launch in the upcoming spring semester, has been developed to meet the academic requirements to achieve a Registered Play Therapist designation through the Association for Play Therapy, upon completion of a student’s respective Washington State licensure of LMFT or LMHC. It is also open to existing therapists who wish to add the play therapy certification to their areas of expertise.
About Antioch University Seattle
Antioch University Seattle is a fully accredited, not for profit institution that is a bold and enduring source of innovation in higher education. Antioch University provides real world knowledge, skills, and experience to adult students online and from its five campuses in four states, in addition to its University-wide international and doctoral programs. The University lives by its mission every day helping students realize their potential and succeed in their educational goals through an innovative learning environment that is rigorous and responsive to their needs. Antioch University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools since 1927.