Wednesday, March 7, 2012


This week I had one of those days. You know, the kind where one wonders what the hell one was thinking when choosing a career path. I consider myself pretty tough, but an event in group shook me up pretty badly on Monday. Hello Rookie, this is your wake up call -- you're not as hardcore as you think and (bubble burst) your job is actually a little dangerous.

Often when my guys are less than perfect in group, I feel partially responsible. I think if only I could find the right directive, the right level of energy, the right pace, they would be too interested in group to act up and just maybe they would learn something. So, today I came with a racing heart, shortness of breath, sense of terror, props to engage them and a bag of prizes to bribe them. I hoped for the best, but had a big male staff, an intern and new respect for the paging system to back me up in preparation for the worst.

I started with the warning of prizes: participation, respect and safety would result in a prize at the end of group. The guys know my basket of prizes. Hot Wheels and notebooks are big motivators for short term good behavior. I don't use bribery often, but you know what they say about desperate times. Then I showed the guys a modified version of an old mindfulness group. They named off the five senses and I had a prop and activity for every one.

Touch - One object for each kid (stress balls, Play Doh, beads, Slinky, for example) and asked them to spend a few seconds with each one and share what they notice. They passed all the objects around so everyone had a turn with each object and could name their favorite.
Taste - One Swedish Fish (Thank you Mallory). They were asked to become connoisseurs and smell, feel, describe before eating in one minute or more. Then say something about the taste.
Smell - A small drop of lotion on their hands. What does it smell like? Does it remind them of anything?
Sound - I had them draw abstractly to music and then discuss what they noticed in the sound.
Sight - They held up images and had to say what they noticed about their own and what they noticed about each others.

Every kid was fantastic in group today. I don't know if it was the prizes or the engagement of their senses, but today was better. Something worked and they noted improvement to their moods and learned a little about using their bodies to pay attention and be connected to themselves and their environments.

In personal art news, my art life has been very slacky and that makes me feel a little brain dead, disconnected from myself and like a craptastic art therapist. Life is busy! But, I have been working on the long term project of paper mosaicing my bedroom furniture. This is great for someone with small moments for art making, because I have slivers of paper and everyday I sit down and glue a few onto my nightstand. It makes me happy. My mind wanders to combining this with sewn papers... quilted furniture... hmmmm....

The top of my nightstand, in progress.

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