I am very optimistic that I will soon see a plethora of greenery outside my window even though Spring has been illusive in my garden. The buds, the birds and the weeds are finally getting out of their hibernation and my energy is getting renewed as I am planning my next steps in my work.
This month has been catastrophic in many parts of the worlds, especially in Nepal and it has resonated deeply as it’s a place that I have visited many times and when the tremors were felt as far as in India, it struck more as that’s where home is.
A part of me wants to jump on the next flight and join many organizations including Art therapy Without Borders to be part of the humanitarian work and use my skills for a cause which is beyond words for many.
I have done work with some PTSD but not directly been involved as other practitioners have during the deadly hurricanes, tsunamis or like the recent earthquake. When we talk about using creative arts or even counselling in such a broad spectrum, it’s important I think to remember the ways art can be used when words are not enough. It can be used as a compliment to assessment, to recovery, to healing. This is the time when creative arts can be transcultural, transformative and transnational, something that is advocated by Art Therapy Without Borders. Since I started practicing as a creative arts therapist in 1995, I have always been amazed by the flexibility, the adaptability, the ability to connect and the diversity of this field. Not only is the cultural and diverse fabric of the field is enriched by those who practice it , it’s the client group, it’s the techniques and it’s the materials which are constantly changing and adding to this melting pot of creativity.
This blog is a salute, a tribute and a standing ovation to the field, to the practitioners and to the world out there who believe in the power of creative art.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
I recently re-read the award-winning book The Help. While the book carries many important messages, there is one message in particular that really stood out for me. It was the message about the importance of acceptance. I was struck by just how determined the main character Aibileen is to make sure the child she nannies grows up feeling good about herself. In order to make sure this happened, she tells the child daily she is kind, smart and important. Aibileen reflects on how she’s learned over the years the value of giving children messages of love and acceptance, as she has seen how too many pushes for change can devastate a child’s sense of self. It made me realize how powerful feeling accepted by a parent can be for a child.
Every parent wants the best for their child. They want them to be happy, healthy and successful. Most parents will bend over backwards trying to give a good life to their child. Unfortunately, sometimes in an effort to make things better, we inadvertently make things more difficult. I see it all the time – parents pushing their kids to excel at school or sports, convinced that pushing them will give them a prosperous life. They will fight tooth and nail with teachers to get their kids out of difficult situations and to protect their kids from perceived harm. They fear the emotional devastation that will be caused if their child doesn’t go to the best school or have the best friends or make the best team. They push for change because they believe it is what will give their child everything they want.
No one can fault them for their good intentions. They are trying to do something wonderful for someone they love. The problem is this constant push for the best often causes us to forget the power of accepting someone as they are now. Unintentionally, the message that is often sent along with the strive for change is that who you are at the moment isn’t good enough. This is of course not at all what parents intend. But unfortunately, it is often the impact.
Continue reading *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
Reflections on the Suicides of Chinese International Students
Recently stories about two Chinese international students committing suicide circulated on Chinese We-Chat. Both students were regarded as excellent students in the eyes of their parents and the others: they were outgoing, active in the community and academically driven. So what led to this tragedy? Who should take the responsibility? What are the causes? And what can we learn from those tragic?
Such questions linger in the minds of parents, friends, teachers and many others- we want answers. Some people may blame the family’s lack of parenting education, some may blame society’s ideology around success and some may blame the victim for not being tough enough.
Case one: YuanYuan from Nangjing China, committed suicide in Feb 2009. She was a second year economics student at Amsterdam University. The three notes she left behind disclosed: “I am so, so tired. For the last eight years I have been trying to calm down the upheaval of inner turmoil; when it hits me I felt so helpless. Sometimes I have to endure and wait for the turmoil to fade and recover slowly. Life is so busy; I simply do not have time to deal with it anymore. I cannot sense any joy in life, and life itself has become unbearable. I am really tired of this.” She also disclosed that she had battled with OCD for the last eight years.
This case was brought to the limelight by Yuan Yuan’s mother. In her mother’s eyes, her daughter was very considerate, independent, warm hearted, decisive and academically driven- a person who had always presented herself as positive and cheerful. The death of her daughter devastated the mother, what had gone wrong? As a teacher herself she asked what can be done to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.
Case two: Guo Yanjun, 28, immigrated to America in 2001, graduated with an Honors BSc in 2006, worked in investment banking in New York, then registered at MIT (麻省理工学院),majoring in management – a journey much admired by many Chinese students. *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA