In this episode of PossibiliTV, I had the joy of interviewing Lanie Smith, MPS, ATR of www.IntegrativeArtTherapy.Net. Lanie is a Registered Art Therapist and shares with us how nature and art can help people connect and heal, particularly service based professionals who work with people who have experienced trauma.
Lanie shares her own journey with art and how she moved to Uganda to learn about art therapy, trauma, and vicarious trauma, which she discusses on this episode.
We discuss the empathic and highly sensitive nature of many helping professionals and how this renders them especially susceptible to burnout and compassion fatigue, as well as vicarious trauma, which Lanie specifically works with using nature and art.
EcoArt and Shinrin Yoku
She uses “EcoArt” which is a subset of art therapy that relies on nature and the environment, and which she refers to as her co-therapist, as she finds it grounds her and gives her a great deal of information as well.
She discusses how every session is a different art form of its own.
Laney also introduces us to shinrin yoku, a Japanese word for “forest bathing.”
She speaks to research that demonstrates that simply spending time in nature can increase the microbiota in our guts! This is extremely important for anyone who has experienced trauma as the link is so strong between our gut, immunity and trauma.
Fill Up Your Cup First
She encourages ALL of us to slow down on a regular basis, and just breathe in fresh air and take in the sounds.
She discusses how putting our needs last as helping professionals does EVERYONE more harm than good, even if we are coming from a good place. It is absolutely critical for helping professionals to do what buddhists refer to as filling up their own cup first, so that it spills over.
Only when our needs are met first can we give back, despite the cultural emphasis on productivity and success that many of us have absorbed.
Bringing More Nature And Mindfulness Into Your Life
Lanie gives us small steps to integrate nature and mindfulness into our lives. You don’t need to jump into a full on seated meditation to be mindful, but can notice the water while washing your hands. Let the mundane tasks be those in which you pay more attention.
Lanie makes it very clear that you do not need an art background to benefit from art therapy or EcoArt and discusses how you can integrate it into your life to benefit from it. She suggests that you go on a nature treasure hunt, and make art from nature’s treasures, like a little rock sculpture. She additionally speaks about the importance of play in our lives.
For People Who Work With Trauma
Lanie also suggests that any therapist or healer checks out the work of Eric Gentry (here is one of his books on trauma) and introduces us to the 5 Key Resiliency Skills that he has outlined:
- Self Regulation – being able to deal with your own past traumas, regulate emotions and be mindful
- Intentionality – be aware of why you’re doing what you’re doing, and recognize that we have choice
- Perceptural Maturation – when our old wounds are not tended to, our growth may be stunted, and we may perceive the world through lenses that are no longer beneficial to us and may not reflect reality
- Self-Care – exercise, sleep, good food, taking care of our basic needs
- Connection – having healthy relationships
Lanie is based in Phoenix, AZ, but works with people all over the world online.
Read more about Lanie and her beautiful work at www.IntegrativeArtTherapy.net.