June and July have been vibrant months in the city of Toronto, colors are not only showcased by the nature but is found regularly on the streets- World Pride was one of them. This summer has also been colorful for a LGBTQ group that I sometimes facilitate workshops for. The group is mixed in ages, sexual orientation , ethnicity and cultural upbringing. There were many differences, many similarities and the diversity was overflowing. They all had one thing in common- they wanted to use the summer months as a way to symbolize the process of coming out-some of them are already out, some of them can never ever while some are contemplating. Whatever their stages of ‘coming out ‘are, the group shared a sense of struggling with their identity.
So delving in suing creative arts, the group explored some creative art therapy interventions which they could relate to , especially the ones who were struggling with identity. I have used these activities with clients with disabilities, clients with gender abuse etc.
The activity “Inside Me, Outside Me” is one example, in which the client creates two self-portraits—one of the publicly presented self, the other of the private, internal, self. For the clients in the early phases of coming out, these may be two very different portraits. The idea of creating self-portraits has been used by many clients in art therapy as a means for externalizing feelings and qualities of the self that are too delicate to expose verbally This activity may use a variety of media or take different forms, such as a mask or box (using the inside as well as the outside). These portraits were used as a gateway for discussion and reflection. Another activity involves puppet making, in which the created puppet “speaks” for the client. When the process stopped, there were sighs of relief and a sense of letting go, which some felt were equivalent to coming out in a safe and non threatening environment. Taking a step forward, the group felt that their personal journeys that they had explored during the workshops could be showcased or just simply shared with other groups. So role plays, movement and embodiment were used to create plays which the group are working on for informal and private sharing in the future.
BY: Priya Senroy *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
A survey conducted by the Surrey Teachers Association (2000) referred to Canadian schools as one of the last bastions of tolerated hatred toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, transsexual, two-spirited and queer (LGBTQ) individuals. This observation points to the need for Canadian schools to consider offering welcoming and safe places within the school for LGBTQ students to meet, socialize, and support one another. Wells (2006) describes gay-straight student alliances (GSA) as student-run and teacher supported school-based groups that come together in confidential spaces where no assumptions are made about participants’ gender or sexual identity. Meetings of the GSA are intended to be open to all students and teachers “who are interested in addressing homophobia, heterosexism and other forms of related discrimination and prejudice” (p.11).
Lee (2002) noted that students who participate in GSAs demonstrate improvement in academic, social, and psychological domains reinforcing the importance of counsellors taking initiative in establishing GSAs within their schools. Wells (2006) stated that there are four main types of GSAs. These include GSAs for counselling and support which is typically counsellor led and offers psychological services, GSAs that provide safe spaces and focus on providing individual support and socialization opportunities, GSAs to raise visibility and awareness with the intent of increasing student safety and bringing to light human rights issues, and GSAs intended to effect educational and social change.
Continue reading *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
Most school counsellor’s approach their jobs with the goal of wanting to helping students achieve their best in academics, adaptive functioning, and social competencies. It is my belief that to do this requires the school counsellor to commit to a regime of reflective practice which can be a difficult task. I recall the first time that I encountered a culture competency model of counselling and was asked to identify my biases to my fellow classmates. My immediate reaction was that I didn’t have any biases and that I would be willing to work with any student on any issue. Upon further questioning and reflection I realized that having biases is unavoidable and that one of the most important aspects of being a counsellor is to acknowledge and exam our world views to develop an understanding of how those views shape our practice perspectives and influence our interactions with students. Sue and Sue (2002) described culturally competent counsellors as having an awareness of their own assumptions, values, and beliefs, having knowledge about the worldviews of others, as well as possessing the skill necessary to use therapeutic modalities and interventions that are most appropriate for the individual client. Schools are a microcosm that reflects the ever changing and growing diversity in today’s society and as such it is more important than ever that counsellors commit to deepening our understanding of ourselves and the impact our views have on our interactions and interventions with students.
As this week marks the beginning of PRIDE week in Toronto and the topic of this blog is about developing competency when working with diverse populations, I started thinking about the importance of the school counsellor in helping to create and maintain the school as a safe and supportive place for all students. The following link is to a guide created by Wells and Tsutsumi (2005) titled, Creating Safe, Caring and Inclusive Schools for LGBTQ Students. I found the guide useful in helping to understand the needs of LGBTQ students. The guide offers information, strategies and ethical guidelines to help school counsellors develop supports, services, and interventions for LGBTQ students.
Sue, D., & Sue, D. (2002). Counselling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice. NY: John Wiley & Sons. *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA