In March, the Creative Forces clinical team was busy hosting events and outreach efforts to communicate the value and efficacy of creative arts therapies in alignment with other national efforts—the annual March observance of Brain Injury Awareness Month, led by the Brain Injury Association of America, and Creative Arts Therapies Week during the third week in March, as designated by the National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies Association.
Creative arts therapists throughout the Creative Forces Network have used these national events as an opportunity to communicate the value and efficacy of creative arts therapies through virtual events, on-site workshops at clinical sites, and resources and prompts for creative engagement.
This year, March also marked the launch of a new interactive exhibition on the Creative Forces National Resource Center. Creative Forces: Healing the Invisible Wounds of War showcases 45 pieces of deeply meaningful expressive works created by service members and veterans at five Creative Forces clinical sites.
In addition, the clinical team announced a new funding opportunity to advance art therapy and music therapy research for military populations.
Read on for more examples of how Creative Forces clinical sites marked Creative Arts Therapies Week and Brain Injury Awareness Month.
National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE)
at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland
Creative Forces staff at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center offered two weekly virtual workshops in March. Poetic Flow: Poetry in Motion, was a co-facilitated experience by Rebecca Vaudreuil, lead music therapist, and Liz Freeman, lead dance/movement therapist, that used the movement of prose and rhythmic contour of poetic phrasing to help inspire free writing and free motion. The workshops examined poems and songs by artists who are neuro atypical and/or feature themes about injury, rehabilitation, and resilience. The workshops also provided facts about brain injury awareness and the arts as well as relevant Creative Forces research on the topic.
Human Juke Box, the second weekly workshop offered through NICoE, was co-facilitated by Rebecca Vaudreuil and music therapist Nate McLaughlan. During this live virtual workshop, participants voted in real time on songs that they would like to hear, which were then played live during the session. During each session, the facilitators provided information on the intersection of music and the brain as well as how music therapy is used to address traumatic brain injury and other neurological impairment.
Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska
Each day of Creative Arts Therapies Week, staff at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson (JBER) hospital hosted different events. One workshop demonstrated how Creative Forces art therapists use printmaking when exploring and deconstructing narrative around trauma with patients. Other workshops included ongoing collage making in public lobby spaces using precut images and lyrics. During open studio hour for JBER staff, participants created mixed media art exploring the theme of joy.
Intrepid Spirit Center in Fort Belvoir, Virginia
The Creative Forces team at the Intrepid Spirit Center curated a series of daily emails for Fort Belvoir staff featuring resources from different creative art therapists, a suggested creative activity to do on their own, and a “meet your CAT” spotlight on creative arts therapist Dr. Gioia Chilton, music therapist Abigail Palmer, and art therapist Jessica Herman.
“The importance of our celebrations this week is to highlight and spread education on the creative arts therapies as they continue to establish themselves in the medical field and beyond. I’d personally like to offer gratitude to our site because it is so very supportive and integrative of the creative arts,” Palmer explained to Fort Belvoir staff.
In celebration of Brain Injury Awareness Month, the Fort Belvoir team hosted a virtual Creative Arts Café which provided a performance platform for patients, staff, and caregivers to share creative expression through art, music, dance, writing, drama, and photography.
James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa, Florida
James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital celebrated Creative Arts Therapies Week with a range of activities including an art gallery exhibit with visual thinking strategies provided by art therapist Merrilee Jorn as well as community activities facilitated by VetArtSpan and Operation: Art of Valor at Morean Arts Center.
Camp LeJeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina
In celebration of Brain Injury Awareness Month, Camp LeJeune hosted a virtual installment of their annual TBI Expo that provides active duty and veteran military members as well as the community and providers with information and resources for those experiencing effects of brain injuries. Creative Forces art therapist Danielle Braxton and music therapist Clayton Cooke presented art/music therapy resources available at the clinic as well as community opportunities through the Jacksonville/Onslow Council for the Arts.
Intrepid Spirit Center in Fort Hood, TX
Andrea Blunt, Creative Forces music therapist at the Intrepid Spirit Center in Fort Hood, was one of the featured speakers during “The Power of Music: Your Brain and Body.” The discussion, facilitated through the Clubhouse app, focused on the clinical benefits of music engagement and use of the arts for health purposes, with a focus on brain injury.
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