Susan Anand and I are heading to LA for the Expressive Therapies Summit.

MARCH 30 - APRIL 2, 2017



"Create Magic and Beauty"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

We will be working on various resilience strategies, all day, but the classes are separated so you can take one or both.  The first class will be a simple narrative and puppet-making class with it's roots in Neuroscience.  We will crate simple book structures to house our puppets and narratives.
In the afternoon we will be working with clay to create worlds and stories of possibility.  So important in today's uncertain environment.  Hope to see you there.

10:00 am  -  1:00 pm
Paper Puppet People, Fairytales, and Neuroscience
Lani A. Gerity, DA, ATR
Susan Ainlay Anand, ATR-BC, ATCS

In this 3-hour workshop, we will provide permissive, easy-to-follow instructions for creating paper puppet people and simple book structures for eliciting pro-social responses. Based on Bruce Perry’s neurosequential model of treatment and educator Peter O'Connor’s work with survivors of traumatic events, participants will learn to weave story, drama, and art into fairy tales and personal narratives of cultural strength and group resilience. Examples of case material from various cultures will be used to illustrate these therapeutic activities that engage the brain from the “bottom,” where experiences are stored, to the cortex at the “top,” where we make sense of our experiences. Using this integrative model, we begin each session with positive tactile experiences and memories, then slowly add "higher” processes, such as humor and insight, that foster possibility and hope for our students, clients, and ourselves.

2:30 pm  -  5:30 pmClay Worlds & Stories for Creating Resilient, Inclusive CommunitiesSusan Ainlay Anand, ATR-BC, ATCS
Lani A. Gerity, DA, ATR

In this 3-hour workshop, we’ll focus on the importance of fostering strengths and inclusivity through multidisciplinary expressive arts activities within a clinical or educational plan. We will review some of our work within social environments in need of resilience, particularly those that have struggled with depression, loss, and trauma. Building on the work of well-being and positive psychology experts Peterson and Seligman, and positive art therapy specialists Chilton and Wilkinson, we have developed easy-to-implement, fun processes that foster strengths and resilience through creative activity featuring clay and story. In our observations, which will be illustrated by case materials, working in small groups through storytelling, deep listening, and group creation helps to support a culture of resilience and inclusivity that clinicians, educators, and helping professionals of all types can use in their daily work with people of all ages and circumstances.



"Always Going Home"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

Mostly I do workshops on paper puppets, narratives, and collage, but I'm flexible.

When I worked in NYC, with seriously mentally ill clients, I found creating puppets with them was an amazing, engaging, and enlightening experience.  Folks created their own world, Puppetland, where anything could happen.  They created new histories for themselves, based on the delightful interactions that their puppets had.  It was truly life changing for many people, but I thought at the time that perhaps it was a little flukey, perhaps it was just the perfect combination of factors that couldn't be replicated elsewhere.  I decided to study the process, and wrote my doctoral dissertation on the experience.  It later became a book published by Jessica Kingsley.

Even though I figured out some of what went into making it such a deceptively powerful experience, I still harbored the thought that maybe it was a fluke because I had the luxury of working with group members for years.  Folks could really take their time and develop healing, transformative narratives of strength around their puppets, the puppets homes, and even backdrop collages that embodied the narratives in a truly magical way, like an illustrated children's book that you accidentally fell into.

I started working in a workshop format, creating puppets with grandparents and grandchildren in the Adirondacks of New York.  Still thinking that the success of these experiences must be due to the specific make-up of the groups in the Adirondacks, I thought why not take the workshop to other cultural groups and environments.  While visiting Susan Anand, art therapist in Mississippi, I suggested that we collaborate on an intergenerational workshop with stressed communities in the Delta region of Mississippi.  Susan made it all possible and we did many workshops together in a variety of settings, with a variety of populations.  We worked together, and we worked separately.  We worked with Vietnamese families devastated by the BP oil spill, with survivors of Hurricane Katrina, a stressed Native American community (First Nations), with cancer patients, and art therapy students.  The results are always new, unexpected, surprising, and always transformative and animating!  

I am beginning to think it's not a fluke.  If you can, come to one of our workshops and try out the methodology for your self.