Sunday, November 29, 2009


My new glorious Cannon SD940IS. It is a beautiful little camera, so small and sleek, with so many features including an awesome wide-screen photo option. I have been taking weird pictures just to test it out.

Also I got my camera in time to do a project for my family therapy class where I am making a "creative" family album. I took pictures of what everyone ate for Thanksgiving dinner :)

More photos later... Hearts to my new camera <3 <3 <3

Saturday, November 21, 2009

AATA Conference: Shabbat Edition

What's spending Shabbat at a conference like? Hard, weird, challenging, and... basically... not the best Shabbat you've ever spent. For sure.

I had to do things like... buy sandwiches for Friday dinner and Saturday lunch on Friday and then keep them in the hotel room refrigerator, stock up on snacks for the day, bring tea bags so I could get free hot water and make tea, chase people to the elevator to ask them to push buttons for me, and hope my roommates were in the room when I got back so they could open the door. It was interesting. I gave money to one of my classmates in advance to take care of any expenses for me just in case. I'm not saying I kept Shabbat as well as I keep it at home, but I stuck mostly to my comfort zone.

I put a notice on the bulletin board for Kabbalat Shabbat, but nobody showed up. Oh well.

Friday night I had a department party to go to, which was really fun. We stayed a lot later than we had anticipated, and then when I got back to the room my roommates weren't there (they left the party early to go out to a bar). So I finished my book that I brought, which isn't really smart because then tonight while I was waiting for Shabbat to be over I had nothing to read. Then my roommates came back tipsy, so I had fun having weird conversations with them until we fell asleep.

This morning I slept in... had a cookie for breakfast, and then spent the rest of the day keeping busy at the conference doing things that didn't require writing or art making.
  • Commemorating Catastrophe: Community art making in New Orleans on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
    This presentation was done by two alums of my program so it was cool to see the work they are doing now. I really appreciated Holly beginning by describing how she messed up the first year she was supposed to do it, did everything in a way that was not culturally appropriate, and nobody showed up. It was good to hear that. She described all the lessons she learned and the success of the programs once she implemented those lessons. I think in many ways what she learned is also reflected in the way my site uses therapy, art, art therapy, etc.

  • Multicultural Exchange Forum
    I went to this not sure what to expect. I'm glad I went... I'm not sure what constitutes "multicultural," and that was one thing I meant to bring up but didn't get a chance to. Technically it encompasses everyone, it sounds like. But I wonder about being White and wanting to be involved in multicultural events - does being Jewish count? I don't know. And someone mentioned how when she had issues with her department she didn't realize there was a Multicultural Committee to back her up. I wonder: if I had known about the Multicultural Committee back last Fall when I was having a conflict with my department about days off for religious holidays, would I have contacted them? And, if so, would they have done anything?

    Also, I caught up with the person who led the presentation on transgender youth the other day. (Last night I also happened to run into someone else who had been in that presentation who wanted to talk to me about my site since I had mentioned it in a response) She is trying to put together a sub-committee for LGBT issues in art therapy and in the American Art Therapy Association and wants me to be in on it. So that might be cool. I'm not sure how I feel about that, not identifying with the LGBT community but rather as an ally and someone who sees similarities in that community to my own. But I'm also becoming involved in this observant Jewish sub-group of the AATA so I wonder how many different things I will be involved in.

  • Drawing Out the Shadow: Art Therapy and Sexual Addiction
    Not sure how I feel about this presentation. It as the fourth presentation I went to at the conference having to deal with sexuality and I was debating not going at all since there are other things to see. But I couldn't really see a good reason not to go. But the person leading the presentation had a way about her that really put me off... I was kind of uncomfortable throughout much of the presentation. She referred to people suffering from sexual addiction as "sex addicts," which made me uncomfortable right off the bat because they drill into our heads in our program a "person-centered" approach, which means you wouldn't refer to people as their diseases but rather as a person WITH a disease/disorder/whatever.

    And then there were some things she said about internet pornography that bothered me, like how it is the "gateway drug," like she said marijuana is a gateway drug, saying that studies show people who use marijuana are likely to use other substances (which I think is really outdated information, at least that's not what we learned in our substance use class this summer). I know a lot of people who look at internet porn who are not addicted to sex just like I know people who smoke marijuana who have either never tried any other drugs (other than nicotine or alcohol) or who have tried other drugs and did not continue their use. It just sounded really outdated and a bad comparison. She didn't explain how someone can be addicted to a behavior as opposed to a substance - for example, heroin addiction affects certain chemicals in the brain, and when you withdraw you have a chemical withdrawal in the body. How does one become addicted to a behavior? Or is it a compulsion, more in line with anxiety, like OCD? Not explained.

    Especially after attending the session on Thursday about having conversations with clients about sexuality, I was uncomfortable about the way this information was presented. It sounded like she thought pornography was was something that is toxic to people and relationships, something that healthy people wouldn't look at/read. And I'm not sure what she meant by "excessive" in any respect (sexual activity, masturbation, pornography viewing) and there was no talk about whether or not the client is distressed by this or it causing impairment in functioning as being the main reason for the diagnosis. She kept talking about these people as being narcissists and shameful... I wonder what was going on there in terms of counter-transference.

  • Harm's Touch
    This presentation was done by one of the faculty in our department. It was about using response art to hold the trauma we hear from our clients or see around us. I really like the way she uses response art, how she really prescribes it as necessary for our profession. My journal is full of weird little drawings that I do right after something happens as a way of letting it out... I am not as strong in response art, but she did her entire PhD on the use of response art, so, you know.

  • Annual Business Meeting
    I didn't get to go to last year's business meeting because I didn't wake up in time. This year they held it at the end of the conference so I got to stay and see how everything works. I think it was a relatively good meeting, some stuff was said (not sure if it was heard), and I got to see who Judy Rubin is finally... Everyone is obsessed with her but I have no idea what she looks like. Judy Rubes!!!!
And now I am going to join some friends in the city for a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving feast.

Tomorrow I'm having brunch with someone I met at the conference and then I'm heading home!

Friday, November 20, 2009

AATA Conference (quick, before Shabbat!)

I have a few minutes before Shabbat starts so here is today's AATA Conference review.

I woke up really late and missed the keynote, but I heard it wasn't too exciting, so okay. I overslept because I was up late freaking out about my cat who decided to eat something she wasn't supposed to and had to be taken to the emergency vet by JewishGuy. Awesome. She's going to be okay, though, at least that was my last update.

So the first thing I went to was going to be a panel about mistakes with working with adolescents and using those mistakes for future lessons... I gave it about 15 minutes, and was like, okay, today I am not going to sit in on presentations I'm not interested in, and got up and left. I went to another session instead. This was the lesson learned from yesterday's missing an awesome presentation because I was for some reason afraid to leave the room.

  • Sexually Abusive Adolescents and Self Portraits
    This was the presentation I went to instead of the one about making mistakes with adolescents. This was actually really cool - they had the adolescents take photos, then printed the photos onto transparencies, which were then projected onto the wall and then traced. It was great to hear how successful this is (I have heard of this technique before). I wonder what this would be like at my site... Also they mentioned that as long as they have been tracking discharges, 80% of their clients who are discharged have not offended again. Wow.

  • Art studio time
    After lunch I spent some time in the art studio. I took a photo of the studio (with my phone) which eventually I will upload. It was so peaceful and relaxing. I met a few people while making art, one person is an alumnus from my program. I love the art studio... the classic "networking" events don't really necessarily make sense for art therapists, many of whom rely on their artwork for much of their communication with other people they don't know - ie: clients... So it's in the art studio that I feel most outgoing and comfortable.

  • YOWSA: The influence of the art therapist's delight by Bruce Moon
    Bruce is a great presenter. His group sounded something like some of the groups I lead, except that he is clearly a much more experienced art therapist and is better able to hold a safe space. My groups are not very safe. I'm not very good at that right now, especially with this population. I'm working on it, though. It was great to hear his success though :) It was great to hear that he let group members sit and not make art for as many sessions as they needed, they could just sit and listen to music if they wanted. Maybe I should be more relaxed about that, too.

  • Attempt at jewelry making workshop
    It wasn't clear that there was a sign-up for the workshop. I was excited when I found out Shabbat started a bit after 5 because the workshop was at 4pm and I had originally thought Shabbat started at 4. When I showed up, though, they turned me away :( Instead, I made a card that will be sent to a soldier wishing him/her a happy holiday season and then came back to the room.

  • Observant Jewish art therapists networking
    I have met a few shomer Shabbat people here, and one person suggested that since I am staying in the hotel for Shabbat maybe I could lead Kabbalat Shabbat services... so I put a note on the community bulletin board inviting people to join me at 5:45. She let me borrow her siddur for Shabbat so I could do the service, so we'll see!
Okay time to go!!! Shabbat Shalom!

Posting from AATA Conference

Hello from Texas, I am at the AATA Conference this weekend! I miss Texas. I miss warm Novembers and tasty Mexican food.

So here I am!

What have I done so far?

Wednesday I did work on the airplane for my thesis, look at me being so industrious! Something else I miss about Texas... We landed and the guy in the row in front of me reaches out across the aisle to shake hands with the Navy man sitting there. He said, "Before you leave I just want to thank you for your service," and shook his hand. Then someone alerted him to a woman who was sitting nearby who is also a soldier going home in plain clothes and he shook her hand too.

It turned out I was on the same airplane as someone in my program (we found this out when she got up to use the bathroom at the end of the flight and I happened to see her pass me). When we landed we called two of our faculty who also had landed at the same time at the same airport and all rode together. These two faculty members are also big names in the field and besties, so it was kind of fun to share a cab with them. When we got to the hotel we threw down our stuff, registered for the conference, then went for sushi with friends from the program. We went to CVS to buy snacks and BLUEBELL ICE CREAM (another thing I miss about Texas), which we devoured.

This morning my head decided to have its monthly migraine, so that woke me up at around 4am, and I didn't really sleep again. I got a phone call at 7am from someone I was going to meet (didn't realize she was going to call at 7am, though), and then I decided to take a migraine pill, so I could finally sleep. I hesitated to take the pill because it has a lot of caffeine in it and I wanted to sleep, but I was so exhausted that the relief at the lack of migraine overpowered the caffeine.

What I did at the conference today:
  • Sexuality & Art Therapy
    This was a fabulous presentation. I am going to buy the book she referenced heavily: "The Heart & Soul of Sex" by Gina Ogden. Unfortunately, the presenter didn't tell the book store station (at the conference) they were going to present on that book in advance so there were no copies available to buy immediately after. I'm lucky, though, because this book is going to be ordered to the store so I can just go pick it up sometime soon (or just order it on Amazon). The presenter talked about bringing healthy conversations about sexuality into therapy, normalizing sexuality with clients, etc. It was great and very empowering!!
  • "It Begins With Us" - Working with Transgender Clients
    This was an okay presentation but I made kind of a prejudiced statement before going that I was only going to go to presentations done by people with MA or above because often the presentations done by people with lesser degrees (ie: undergrad or grad students) are not very well researched. This was a presentation of a class project she did. If she had had more time and had really done a real research project by sending our her survey to more people, there may have been more results (also if she had consulted someone on her survey questions). It was pretty good, though, especially for a class assignment. But they didn't really bring in any of the deeper subjects relating to working with transgender clients, or really many honest responses to people who identify as transgender... I skipped a presentation about Gush Katif for this one - that presentation was apparently AMAZING, people CRIED - so I am kind of sad...
  • MARI Card Assessment
    (What is the MARI Card Assessment?) I had been looking forward to this all year, ever since last year I missed it because I waited until the end of the conference and there was no time left. Also last year I chose to research this assessment for my class and it is super top secret, there isn't much information about it anywhere! This was a really amazing experience... It ended up being a lot about my wrestling with my Jewish identity and spirituality... WOW.
  • "Points of You: The Coaching Game" trial
    I was walking around the exhibition room and I heard two women speaking in Hebrew so I went over to the booth where they were standing and basically asked if I could practice my Hebrew on them. So they said, we can give you our shpeal in Hebrew if you want! So that's what they did... it is actually a really cool game that inspires a lot of interesting conversations. It's basically irresistible - you feel compelled to talk about the cards you pick! Very cool. It's really new and was developed in Israel. I have a few critiques about it, though, one big one being that all the people pictured in the cards are White. But it is a really cool tool. Plus I got to practice some Hebrew.
  • Student session with Pat Allen
    This session was designed to be a small conversation, I guess Pat didn't realize how many people would show up because there were more than 50 people in the room, actually probably close to 80! So it was just her answering questions... describing the Open Studio Process (OSP). It was obvious nobody in the room really knew who she was because people were really confused about the OSP - she never identified it by name, herself. But one person did say "oh do you do something like the OSP?" and I laughed inside... She invented the OSP! Literally! But she didn't say that, she was really cool about it. It was kind of annoying, though, I didn't need to sit in a session about the OSP, but because I sat in the front row I couldn't leave! Near the end we did talk somewhat about jobs and whatever... I don't know. Last year's student session with Shawn McNiff didn't get so derailed, but mostly because he didn't ask for anyone's opinions about anything hahaha.
  • Art of Edith Kramer Opening Reception
    This was cool, Edith Kramer is one of the Founding Mothers (or the "אמהות" "imahot" if you want to make a reference to the biblical matriarchs, since there are 4 haha) of Art Therapy. Here I actually introduced myself to someone I had been seeing around the conference all day, turns out she lives kind of near my parents and knows one of the teachers at my school. Ha! Small world... The shuttles were timed really badly, so it took forever to get there and back, so I almost missed the movie about art made by Holocaust survivors, which I wanted to see. They had underestimated the amount of space they needed for the audience of that movie anyway, so I got there about 30min into the movie but people were sitting out in the hall on the floor or on piano benches because there were no more seats. I just gave up.
SO. that is the conference so far. I don't know what the rest of the conference update will look like because Shabbat starts at 4pm tomorrow and then as soon as it's over on Saturday I am going to a friend's house in the city for dinner. That should be fun :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Crafty Bday Presents

JewishGuy and I had swine flu on my birthday so we didn't get to go out and do anything... just sat at home and ordered in Cheesecake Factory (apparently they deliver... it's expensive, but they deliver, and it was my birthday and I wanted cheesecake).

JewishGuy bought me a couple of things from my etsy wishlist :)

One was this textile pendant from cricketapollo :) I've gotten so many compliments on this necklace it's awesome... the only non-awesome thing is that people think this pendant gives them license to touch my chest? When I wear it it's quite big and I have literally had people come up and poke the buttons on it. Weird.

The other was this beautiful little bird pendant from westbyron. It's very subtle and pretty :) I am into bird things right now: I had this great bird mug that I destroyed due to pouring boiling water on my hand, I also have bird earrings that I wear practically every day. Birds and flowers. I am keeping it perpetually spring in my accessories.

I have two complications with necklaces: #1, I never know how to wear some of them, like the big pendants I have seem to look good with v-necks, but can I wear them with other styles? and #2, I try not to wear necklaces to work because we learned in one of our training sessions that you should never wear anything around your neck when working with clients. So I've been wearing them to class and synagogue and basically anywhere I can.

I have some other cute accessories I've purchased recently... one day when I have a camera I will post pictures!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Last week I had swine flu and now I am a pariah. I'm still coughing and even though the doctor cleared me to be around people again nobody wants to be within a 10 foot radius of me. I'm trying hard not to infect anyone but there's only so long I can take being quarantined in the house! I want to go out!!!

(This is my ironic Halloween costume)

JewishGuy was sad... he said, "don't you like spending time with me?" as he hacked up a lung. He also is sick. Our powers combined, we make a gross swine flu superhero!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Almost Shabbat

My last post was when I started to get angry instead of feeling sad. And then I sought out support from people. And then I did a little art assignment where I had myself draw a bridge and describe what it looked like, what supported it, and what the scenery around it looked like.

Then I headed into my internship and it was amazing. I had a really good day. I felt really positive and like things were actually working. I had my site visit and the group went really well.

Then of course I came down with the flu and haven't left the house since Tuesday evening. bleh.

The bridge exercise was really useful to me, especially in conjunction with asking for support from a wider network of people than I had previously accessed. Usually when art therapists make a bridge (at least from what I've read about), they concentrate on what the bridge is going over, or where it's going to/from. But for me, since I was struggling with feeling supported in certain areas of my life - specifically my fieldwork - I needed to make a supported structure and then focus on that structure.

I feel like the intensity of that last post had to be followed up. I am feeling less angry and more in control, despite being now an entire week behind on my school work from the flu.
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