This post is the final installment of a 3-part series recapping a three-part series of workshops for Dr. Marcia Rosal’s summer class ARE5934 Special Topics: Art Therapy Issues. Guest speakers Linda Gantt, Tracy Councill, and Patricia Isis led hands-on trainings on the topic of Trauma and Art Therapy and are each featured in this series.
Patricia Isis has been practicing art therapy with students in the Miami-Dade public school for over 35 years and still simultaneously works in private practice. Dr. Isis attributes her success to an ability to disguise art and mindfulness to be “sexy” for her clients. She presented her insights to FSU students in a workshop titled “Best Practices for Self-Care, Wellness and Mindfulness for People Affected by Stress.”
The major focus for this workshop was on the self-care and mindfulness practices of the attendees. Mindfulness practice is intentional, non-judgmental acceptance of what is going on inside and outside of your own body. Dr. Isis explained that “being present is contagious – we tend to mirror the attitudes of those around us. So practice presence so that your world mimics presence, too.” The workshop content also incorporated current research topics, including neuroscientific studies and their implications for the art therapy field.
“Patti,” as she is known to Dr. Gussak, “takes the notion of mindfulness and makes it understood from a clinical and research perspective. She gives the topic a real meat and substance.” Dr. Gussak, FSU’s Dr. Marcia Rosal, and Dr. Isis have been friends and colleagues for decades, even serving together on the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) Board of Directors in the late 1990s. “She elevates the profession” noted Dr. Gussak.
Dr. Dave Gussak praised Dr. Isis as a skilled educator due to her “amazing energy” and being “brilliant while also real and approachable.” Dr. Isis’s humorous personality and warmth flowed over into the workshop. She frequently looked over student artwork, proclaiming “this is delicious!” or “this is tasty!” She teased attendees to “watch your ‘tude – how is the quality of your attention?” Dr. Isis’s popularity with both students and faculty is evident in the fact that this is now her fourth summer teaching at FSU.
Dr. Isis conceptualized that in order for practitioners to help treat their clients’ traumas, they must first try each art or movement experiential themselves. As a result, attendees spent much of the workshop in art-making, body movement, and discussion. The photographs below highlight some of the engaging directives Dr. Isis modeled such as body scans, affectionate breathing, and walk-a-bouts.
“You do you and I do me” was repeated throughout the workshop and Dr. Isis appeared to epitomize this total acceptance. Dr. Isis emphasized that all participants could engage in the moment if they were able but also not to be upset with themselves if they did not maintain focus. She suggested that students keep in mind that “our thoughts are not facts” and that “self-compassion and kindness to self” are priorities.
Dr. Gussak explained that Dr. Isis provides students with insights for trauma treatment because as a skilled clinician “she applies theory to real application and alleviates trauma through a theoretical perspective.” Masters student Andi Dangerfield appreciated the practical implications of the workshop, stating that “Patricia embodied the work she was talking about; she practices what she preaches. Her enthusiasm carried over into the material and made it fun!”
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