Central Region Conference 2013!

Enter into this Body:
The Use of Drama and Dance Movement as Therapy
Central Region Conference
Saint Louis, Missouri
May 25th and 26th 2013
This year’s central region conference asks: how do we help our clients, community and ourselves enter into the body through the use of drama and/or dance movement therapy as healing and why is this important? How do we, coming together as drama and dance movement therapists, use one another’s body of knowledge to inform our practices? As clinicians and educators in the mid-west, spread far apart, how do we create a tangible and metaphorical embodied community that is alive and thriving supporting one another? How does the body, itself, inform our work? Drama and Dance Movement therapists who can help answer these questions are encouraged to submit proposals for this exciting conference. Proposals are due March 17th 2013. Forms for submissions to follow.
Questions? Please email Laura Wood, MA, RDT, LPC: centralrep@nadt.org

A word from our President-Elect!

Central Region Drama Therapy on Montreal!?!

Yes! There is so much incredible drama therapy work and learning happening in the Central Region, and it’s important for the world to see it! Please consider submitting a proposal for the 2013 NADTA conference. I know that “research” is the theme, and you may not think of what you do as research, but to quote our conference committee, “In many ways, drama therapy is itself a form of arts based research – the systematic use of the artistic process as a primary way of understanding and examining experience.”

This year’s theme is about learning – some questions posed in the call for papers:

– – Where is the art within our practice?

– – How can that art create knowledge and how can it help us transmit and share that knowledge?

– – What does our art teach us about our clients and ourselves?

– – How are our experiences captured within the art form?

– – Within drama therapy, how do we know what we know?

– – And ultimately, what are some ways that we can navigate this interplay between science and art?

What knowledge do you have to share with the drama therapy community? What unique perspectives and experience might Central Region Drama Therapists bring to this conversation? Please consider joining the dialog by submitting a proposal. The deadline has been extended to February 8th. Go to http://www.nadt.org/events/2013-annual-conference.html for more info.

I hope to see you in Montreal!

Nadya Trytan, RDT/BCT

DvT training in the Central Region is here!!

Developmental Transformations Workshop!!
February 23 and 24th 2013
Developmental Transformations (DvT) involves the continuous transformation of embodied encounters in a playspace. DvT is at once a method of embodied psychotherapy, meditation, performance, and an approach to social change.
Two Options:
Get a taste: Hear about the ALIVE program Saturday Feb 23 9am-12:00 ($35.00)
Full Workshop: Saturday Feb 23 and Sunday Feb 24 (including Saturday’s talk) 9am-5pm both days ($175.00)
The ALIVE Program: Drama therapists at the Post Traumatic Stress Center in New Haven Connecticut have initiated an innovative trauma-based program within the New Haven public school system, in which students are provided brief stress reducing sessions of DvT during the day. Drama therapists collaborate with teachers and administrators in humanities curriculum and school climate interventions. Data indicate significant impact on individual students, classroom environments, and school climate as a whole. Trauma-centered drama therapy in public school education will be discussed.
Where: 333 N. Smith Ave. St. Paul, Minnesota. At United Hospital (main entrance)
How to sign up: Laura Wood, MA, RDT: lauraleighwood@yahoo.com
Led By:
David Read Johnson, Ph.D., RDT-BCT: Co-Director of the Post Traumatic Stress Center, New Haven, CT; Director, Institute for Developmental Transformations; Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine; and former President of the National Association for Drama Therapy.
Jennifer Johnson, MA, RDT: Registered Drama Therapist and Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (NY), and DvT Practitioner. Jen works in child and adolescent day treatment and is the co-creator of Arts in Action MN,
Talia Smigielski, MA, RDT is a Registered Drama Therapist and DvT Practitioner currently serving as the Coordinator for an ‘out-of-school-time’ program that provides academic, interpersonal, and leadership skill development and family support. She is the co-creator of Arts in Action MN.

Growth as a Drama Therapist

“Growth allows us to test unchartered waters and open up more pathways to our true self.”
This quote was written on a farewell note from an art therapy colleague of mine. In spirit of the New Year, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about how and when we know it is time to make a professional transition. As Drama Therapists, we spend much time discussing the importance of advocacy, education, licensure and research to generate best practices, jobs and respect for our growing field. Jobs are not plentiful and resources can be sparse. With that being said, I would like to explore personal goal-setting and how this impacts a Drama Therapists’ journey in knowing when it is time to transition, to test uncharted waters.
Maintaining a ‘safety net’ for oneself was instilled in my brain at a young age. My mother, a second- grade schoolteacher, is retiring this year after forty years of teaching in the same school. Year after year, she is rejuvenated by her students’ individualized strengths and personal stories. Creativity in the classroom has always been of upmost importance to my mother, including spontaneous dance parties, classroom plays and weekly “top dog” to highlight students’ interests, family and pets. However within the past year or so, I’ve noticed the focus of conversation has shifted from rejuvenating stories to growing frustrations regarding changes in the school system. My mother, after forty years, is ready to transition.
Like my mother, I am also in the midst of a transition after three years as a Drama Therapist for children and adolescents in residential treatment settings. Although I love my clients and much of the job, anyone who has worked in a residential treatment setting knows that it is sometimes difficult to leave the weight of work at the door. For years, I had been telling my closest friends and family how much I miss theater and how I hope to secure a job that will provide me more space to create. Despite this stated goal, there were other professional goals that prohibited me from leaving. Professionally, I wanted to obtain necessary licensure and registry, both of which required a certain number of supervisory and professional hours. Plus, we all have personal goals and milestones that sometimes interrupt our job search or desire to test uncharted waters. Sometimes there is comfort in predictability, routine and structure.
So, as my husband asked me at dinner tonight, “how did you know?” For me, it was a culmination of achieving professional goals, a desire to find a job that provides more space to create, systemic changes in the organization and a desire to seek varying clinical experiences. Preparation and termination are essential elements within any transition. I had to be honest with myself, my clients and my colleagues throughout this process. Subsequently, I had to sit with the discomfort of others pulling away, not agreeing with my choices or choosing not to acknowledge them. On the contrary, I basked in appreciation of cards, notes and a celebratory dinner to kick off this next journey. I’m choosing to find trust in myself and am taking the leap!

Whitney Davis, LCSW/RDT

An Unexpected Journey

I work at the Institute for Therapy through the Arts, which is a community-based agency that serves a broad spectrum of clients and contract sites across Chicago and its suburbs. ITA is situated in Evanston, Illinois. Evanston is currently celebrating, albeit somewhat sedately, our Northwestern Wildcats win in the Gator Bowl, its first bowl game win since 1949. While my own unexpected journey to ITA and my status as a Registered Drama Therapist has not been as long as the Wildcats quest for a bowl win, it has certainly seemed epic at times to me.

Ted Rubenstein, former Clinical Director of ITA and a well-respected Drama Therapist, and I both attended The Theatre School at DePaul University (though we were there at different times). From there I joined the Geese Theatre Company under John Bergman, a giant in the field of Drama Therapy. In every type of correctional institution I found myself running workshops and acting in interactive improvisational shows all concerned with improving family communication, confronting thoughts and actions leading to criminal behavior, and managing rage and other destructive impulses. After leaving the American Geese, I then wrote and received a grant to continue work with Geese Theatre Company of Great Britain, which involved much more extensive work in probation and parole programs than is present in the United States. I often myself in American prisons with state-of-the-art institutions but very little by way of programs to actually help inmates reform. By contrast, the United Kingdom often had decrepit institutions but a much higher investment in programming, especially in aftercare and alternatives to custody. Upon graduating from acting school I had no real understanding of the power of drama to produce change. After my time in Geese Theatre, both here and abroad, I did, and I wanted a career in making that kind of drama happen.

Returning to the U.S.A., I began work on my Masters in Therapeutic and Educational Drama, and independent degree study program through Lesley College in Cambridge Massachusetts. I found myself engrossed in the stories of those who came to the Heartland Alliance International Refugee Center and the Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture. It was my honor to create performances with immigrants and refugees from disparate places such as Cambodia, Eritrea, Guatemala, Laos, Somalia, Sudan, and Vietnam. These performers shared their life experiences to make these shows, and sometimes crafted works of fiction that represented the experiences of family, friends, and neighbors. I am deeply grateful for the lessons of hope, hard work, and resiliency that were imparted by people whose bond with humanity had been battered by intentional abuses of their fellow man. Those experiences gave me not just a degree, but a deep commitment to doing whatever I could to better the lives of others.

During this time I also returned to improv theatre by auditioning and being accepted into ComedySportz of Chicago, where I soon became Director of Education & Training. In that role I brought the ComedySportz High School League Program to the Chicago area. High School League is a particular brand of improv show for teens, a kind of cooperative competition, where teams compete in rounds of short improvised scenes, games or songs but the ultimate goal is working together to give each audience a great show. High School League is about competing while at the same time fully accepting each other’s choices and building each other up, and for the kids involved it seemed a welcome contrast to other cultural forces present in high school (and beyond) which were all about tearing down others to build up self, and criticism, and fearing and finding fault in difference. It wasn’t exactly Drama Therapy, but it remains a near and dear part of my life. I left behind the role of education director to formally become a Drama Therapist when Ted Rubenstein brought me into ITA in 2002. It took me until 2012 to pull together a proper, complete, detailed account of my educational and professional experience in order to receive my credentials as a Registered Drama Therapist.

At the recent NADTA conference Marilyn “Toddy” Richman, a founder of the National Association of Drama Therapy (now the North American Drama Therapy Association) brought me up onstage to sing with her an ode I wrote the creative arts therapies. When Toddy founded ITA in 1975, having Music, Art, Dance, and Drama Therapies under one roof was a cornerstone of her vision. Today, while multi-modal co-treatment happens only when treatment calls for it and circumstances allow it, collaborative consultation is constant and ongoing.

I just returned from New Orleans having enjoyed a blessed vacation from Chicago winter. Part of the trip was bittersweet, as the last time I was there was with the late Ted Rubenstein presenting together on a conference for Speech Therapy and Audiology. We were presenting on our work using Drama Therapy in group outpatient treatment of aphasia. When that program renewed, Ted stepped aside to allow room for another creative arts therapy to co-treat with me as the remaining Drama Therapist. Thus far I have worked with Art Therapists and Music Therapists in the Aphasia program, and this past year our new Clinical Director Jenni Rook, a Music Therapist, worked hard to expand services to include Drama Therapy for in-patient care at that rehab hospital. I think Ted would be pleased that these multi-modal creative arts therapy efforts continue at Institute for Therapy through the Arts.

If you are in our local area or know someone that is, you can support ITA in a fun way by attending…

Women’s Club of Evanston 2013 Benefit Show Supporting ITA
“Laughter in the Key of WCE”
Date: March 7, 8, 9 & 14, 15, 16, 2013 – at 8:00pm
Location: The Women’s Club of Evanston, 1702 Chicago Avenue, Evanston
Contact: 847.475.3800
Cost: $32.50, $40 for premium seating. Tickets on sale beginning January 6, 2013.

Metered street parking, a parking lot, and garage parking are available within walking distance.

The ode I sang with Toddy, “To Be the Very Model of a Creative Arts Therapist”, was written for the WCE event. Find out more about ITA and what we are up to on the following media sites:


Happy New Year

Keith Whipple, MA, RDT
Evanston, IL (Go Wildcats)

Keith Whipple, MA, RDT
Drama Therapist
Music Institute of Chicago’s
Institute for Therapy through the Arts
2008 Dempster Street
Evanston, IL 60202
phone: 847-448-8346
fax: 847-425-9728