Throughts from our very own President-Elect!

Expanding Abundance in the Midst of a Contracted Economy

There was a time in my life when the dream career of drama therapy seemed unattainable and completely unrealistic. I didn’t even have a name for it then, but I knew that theater methods had healing power, and I wanted to bring that healing to others. However the reality was that I had to pay the rent.

As theater majors in college, a friend and I dreamed and planned to create a theater company focused on social justice and community building. But post-graduation found me working in non-profit marketing by day (for very low wages) and stage managing by night (for free or a small stipend.) This was the late 1980’s – when arts funding plummeted, and even in the twin cities, I watched one theater after another close the doors for good.

Eventually I moved on to a more profitable job waiting tables, then to office jobs because I needed health insurance. I was in scarcity.

I was also not very happy in how I was spending my time 40 hours a week. So I started looking for something else. Given that a career in drama therapy was unrealistic (or so I thought at the time), I started a graduate program in organizational development. This was sort of like drama therapy, and we had a great community of OD professionals in the twin cities. I mostly fit in.

But something kept tugging at me. I knew I was not following my heart. I was avoiding what I really loved. I grew up thinking that work was a chore I had to do to make a living. I needed to trust my wisdom enough to choose work in the place that brings me joy.

But, as I learned in my youth, people in theater-related careers are poor – right? Social workers – they didn’t seem to have a very fun job, and they didn’t seem to make much money – right? When I later learned about drama therapy, I was told that drama therapists don’t get respect – right?

As I was considering a career change to become a drama therapist, I overheard a friend talking about someone she knew. The conversation was marveling over how financially successful this person was in his career as an artist. My friend said, “He didn’t know that artists were supposed to be poor.”

I began to ponder what it might be if I did not believe that following my heart would leave me in a place of ambiguity and poverty. I made a decision that if I were going to follow this road to become a drama therapist, I had to find a way to see it as an abundant career.

When I started on the path, I thought abundance was a destination, but I discovered it to be a companion on my journey. Each new turn requires me to expand into the places where I hold myself back, the places where I fear to go. Each step requires me to trust myself and to appreciate the gifts, many of them small, that are around me. Gifts that once would have gone unnoticed – or even may have once been pushed away. Some of these gifts challenge me to grow and stretch in uncomfortable ways.

Connecting with abundance meant noticing my anxieties and restrictions, and growing beyond them, not always an easy task, but one that resulted in a happier and more beautiful life for me. It meant learning some very basic financial management skills. It meant finding gratitude for what I have, and making choices about what I am willing to give up in order to expand. And it meant listening to my wisdom and strength – instead of listening to others’ projections and expectations. I’m still learning.

I’m amazed at the many unexpected gifts that appear when I’m connected with my enoughness, generosity and gratitude.

I’m now a drama therapist, and few of the people I encounter have heard of this career. This means I get to talk about what I do and the work I so enjoy. It creates opportunity to connect with people who get excited about healing through creativity and play.

In looking for respect, I found that the letters after my name or the school where I graduated do not matter for long. In the end, it is about how well I do the work I do. And when I focus on that, instead of how other professionals perceive me, doors open.

I hear on the news daily about the constricting economy and job losses. Yet amidst this, there are possibilities. For those of you reading this, I can’t advise you on how to find abundance, as we each have different gifts and touch our abundance, and our barriers, in different ways. I challenge you to be open, and not be limited by others’ thoughts, or even your own. I encourage you to expand your restrictions, to see what you have, to value who you are and what you have to give – especially where your gifts are unique.

As a drama therapist, I have something unusual to offer, and this a source of abundance.

Nadya

Nadya Trytan, RDT/BCT is a Drama Therapist practicing the twin cities (Minnesota).
http://www.dramatherapycenter.com

Reflections from the brilliant Kareen King

HOW DRAMA THERAPY UNEARTHED A BURIED GRIEF

By Kareen King, MA, RDT

 

They say grief comes in stages (a perfect metaphor for drama therapy, by the way) – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance; according to the Kubler-Ross model, for example. What I didn’t know, until my recent experience with Deb Meyer’s Bereavement workshop at the Central Region Drama Therapy Conference, is that I had an unresolved grief issue that had been buried in my subconscious for over fourteen years. A grief issue that needed to take center stage.

Deb’s workshop, “Companioning the Bereaved in Creative and Meaningful Ways,” opened up a whole new appreciation for the power of Drama Therapy as a tool to unearth secrets of the soul, facilitate personal resolution, and demonstrate love and compassion through ritual.

Deb unpretentiously guided us through a journey that tapped into an issue surrounding the loss of my unborn baby, Benjamin Joel. Benjamin died in the womb two weeks before he would have officially been declared a still birth, right in the midst of another seemingly larger trauma that my husband and I were working through at the time. What was fascinating to me, however, is that Benjamin was the last thing on my mind before Deb’s workshop. In fact, he initially appeared to me as sort of an afterthought while we were creating our personal loss timelines. Knowing in my head that he should be included in my list of significant losses, I marked him down and moved on to an issue I thought loomed much larger.

Deb then instructed us to choose one loss from our timeline, and then create an artistic depiction via play dough or crayon and paper. I immediately selected blue play dough to sort through a loss which my husband and I had deemed “The Great Sadness.” It had nothing to do with Benjamin.

As I worked with the dough, I had a sense that perhaps I should honor Benjamin. It was more of an act of courtesy than anything else to alleviate some guilt I had for not feeling like the “good enough” mother. Eventually, I had a crude little mold that mirrored the size and shape of the tiny child I had birthed so long ago. At the time, my husband had the privilege of holding him in the palm of his hand for hours, sobbing into his pillow the evening after our loss. I couldn’t identify with the deep feelings my husband was experiencing at the time and was a bit envious. The feelings, however, surfaced like waves six months later when I was at a conference where I was beholding several young couples who were pushing newborn babies in their strollers. I recall crying buckets of tears that evening, and even wrote a song on Benjamin’s behalf. I thought that was the culmination of my grief.

Enter the magic of embodiment which is the hallmark of Drama Therapy. After we had completed our works of art, Deb instructed us to lay our pieces on the floor. At first I felt a little self conscious about my “art.” Even a bit embarrassed since I wasn’t all that emotionally invested in this process and didn’t want others to make a big deal out of it. After all, it didn’t seem that big a deal to me. Not yet.

Deb then asked us to stand beside the piece that we wanted to know more about. Several participants stood around Benjamin as I distanced myself in a far corner of the gallery of grief. Within moments, I was asked to tell my story to those who chose to embrace my art. Unexpected tears poured out as I shared my story with the six witnesses who lovingly entered into my grief. The story goes as follows:

Fourteen years ago, my husband and I took our five children to witness the sonogram of their newest sibling. There was no heartbeat. For the next three days I lived with the knowledge that I was carrying death in my womb. After the baby was birthed, we brought him home so our children could see his perfectly formed body and get a mental picture of the sibling they would never have the joy of growing up with. The next night, we held a family burial in our backyard, since we lived in the country and Benjamin was too young to warrant a funeral. As the seven of us stood around his plot, I suddenly witnessed a friend arrive in our driveway with a covered dish as an act of kindness. Not wanting her to know she had inadvertently disrupted our family ritual, we cut short our “good-bye,” while I rushed toward her to thank her and shield her from our aborted graveside service. In essence, I had allowed the urgent to take precedence, and chose to put a friend first over family.

Back to Deb’s workshop. The beauty of the enactment which followed, was that there were the exact amount of participants needed to represent each of my family members. I watched each of them take turns holding Benjamin in their hands as they sang the song I had written for him. The last “member” of my family walked over to me and handed Benjamin over for me to hold one last time before I laid him down and buried him underneath the blue scarves they had prepared for him.

My grief was now complete. Benjamin, who was last on my mind, finally took precedence where he truly belonged, through the loving, embodying work of Drama Therapy.

 

I also have included a link to a post I wrote about Benjamin on my website which includes my song, “Gone.” This is the song my “actors” sang during Benjamin’s enactment.  Here’s the link: http://www.thegoldenexperience.com/aspirin-what-could-have-been/
Blessings- Kareen King

Note from Laura:

**Kareen is a Registered Drama Therapist, Keynote Speaker/Performance Artist Keynotes, Concerts, & Workshops to Enrich Lives in Long-Term Care. You can email her at  kking@thegoldenexperience.com Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KareenKing or check out her breathtaking work at www.thegoldenexperience.com**

 

 

Thoughts From Liz!

Hello Everyone! I’m excited to be writing, so I’m just going to jump right in:

I am at a very obnoxious phase of my Dramatherapist development. I like to think of it as my 9 year old phase (or perhaps teenager). I’ve gotten ahold of enough information about Dramatherapy that I am SUPER excited about it, I think I know everything, and I am ready to tell/demonstrate it to everyone I meet, at all times. I think I come off as a bit of a know it all. I was the same way in elementary school about poetry. I wrote it, performed it and shamelessly rhymed all of the time(d). For better or for worse, Dramatherapy is the lens through which I see the world these days. And I am convinced it’s an awesome way to see things.

Case in point- I went to see The Avengers a few weeks ago with a very close friend. After the movie we were discussing the heroes and I mentioned that I thought that the Hulk would really benefit from Dramatherapy intervention. I launched into explaining the empty chair method of confronting parts of yourself and the way that limbic resonance can be used to self-regulate emotions. I told my friend that Captain America would really benefit from some of the work that I’m doing on cultural adjustment and that Iron Man would be a hoot to introduce to an improv troupe. I mean, the image of Bruce Banner facing the Hulk/empty chair was cracking me up. I was joking…but I was also kind of serious.

I have always been fascinated by superheroes. Our society is quite obsessed with them. We write our heroes larger than life, but we always write them with flaws that everyone can identify with. I think that superheroes in particular tap into that deep desire that people have to be able to actually save someone else. We want to help SO BADLY that we do whatever we can to bring some hope and help to others. In real life, we can’t reverse the earth’s orbit to rewind time and bring back someone we love. We can’t shoot webs from our hands to catch someone when they’re falling. We can’t save people from themselves. I think in Dramatherapy we come the closest to having actual superpowers in our use of the imagination. Which almost makes it harder. A lot of us came to Dramatherapy from other places where we were struggling to make a difference and we realized we needed more training, more knowledge, more support. So we heeded the beacon signal of Dramatherapy and gathered in the KState Batcave, or the NYU Fortress of Solitude, or the CIIS (wherever it is that Spiderman chills out). We come from all over because we want to make a difference and we want to use Dramatherapy to do it.

The problem is it’s easy for me as a new Dramatherapist (and I think it might be a career long struggle), to see myself as a hero. I want to swoop into whatever population I’m going to be with and I want to save them. I want to help them overcome whatever it is that’s causing hurt and brokenness in their lives. But if I am a hero, I am also one in need of rescue. And the duality of that is something to hold in all the Dramatherapy that I do. I am not coming into your group from a place of having it all sorted out. I am not superior to you. BUT- I am coming into your group from a place of being trained and knowing what to do to help you and how to keep you the appropriate level of safe. So how do I communicate confidence and knowledge without seeming like I am a know it all? How do I exercise authority in leading a group while at the same time seeing everyone as equals? Who am I to help people get their issues straightened out, when I am constantly discovering new struggles of my own? It’s a balance of roles and ways of thinking about therapy that I haven’t figured out just yet.

However, if the Avengers can team together despite the fact they don’t have it all together yet and save New York from a bunch of really lame looking, space scooter riding aliens, then perhaps the Central Region can team together and save the Midwest whilst we sort through these things together. What do you think?

– Liz Cardy, KState Master’s student

At the Board Meeting

Hi All,

This past weekend I attened the NADTA board meeting and presented on what we have been up to in our region. Here’s what I shared:

My main goal for the Central Region was to hold an affordable regional conference this summer, as the demand and enthusiasm has been present since I moved to this area. We had our first Central Region Conference since 2005, which took place May 18th-20th in St. Louis, Missouri at Castlewood Treatment Center.

The event was a huge success, with 24 participants (1/4 of our region present). The NADT generously provided us with $500 of “seed money.” Through the generous donation of space, snacks, copy and PowerPoint supplies from Castlewood Treatment Center, as well as allowing us to use the Castlewood Corporate discount for the Drury Hotel helped make the conference affordable for many.

I would like the board to consider allowing the Central Region to be able to start a fund with the profit made at the Central Region Conference to put towards our Central Region Conference next year or other Central wide region events.

***The board approved this request and we now have our own account as a part of the NADTA to put this money towards next years conference!!***

Other Noteworthy Conference Events

-The Central Region would like to start a WordPress Blog. My goal is to have this up and running by the time of the board meeting. People signed up to blog for the next 14 weeks, one a week. ***As you can see, its clearly up!!****

-Both students and professionals presented. Presentations included Drama therapy applied to grief and loss, the limbic system, the aging community, eating disorders, and students with learning disabilities. There was also a Playback performance.

-It was determined that a goal of Central Region Conferences should be to foster the development of students and create a mentorship type program for those in our region. This will be explored through the blog and hopefully be put into action at next year’s regional conference.

-The feedback was almost 100% positive. People would like another conference next year and more communication about how to carpool and get in touch ahead of time to capitalize on sharing cars, hotel rooms, etc.

-Bio’s of those attending were collected and will be in the next Central Region Update for Drama Scope.

-People in our region want to have a voice, get connected and find a sense of community. Many people reported feeling alone and disconnected in this region and expressed great hope and energy at the conference in a rebirth. Hopefully making the Central Region conference a yearly event, creating a Blog and mentorship program will begin to foster this renaissance.

General Ideas Moving Forward

-Get the blog up and running

-Make sure we have an agenda ahead of time for the Central Region Luncheon in November

-Begin to brainstorm about a Central Region mentorship program

-Continue to make phone and personal contact with members to help them feel seen/heard

-Begin planning for next year’s Central Conference and announce the date and place at the National Conference Luncheon in New Haven

-Encourage more Central Region Members to submit proposals for the National Conference

So, thats what I have been up to as your Central Region Rep! I always love to hear feedback on what you all need, so always feel free to email me at centralrep@nadt.org

And, stay on the look out this week for a new post from Liz Cardy!

Warmest,

Laura