HISTORY of CROSS MODAL CREATIVITY and BrainsmART Approach to Healing
In the 1980's I was preparing students for performance competitions in the music. I had a inner conflict about the purpose of these competitions because I knew that the real benefits of the music and visual skills I taught were in the integrative changes they made to the brain mind and body. I began formulating 'cross modal exercises' for my students who were so anxious about the competition that they would lose the joy of playing their music. In an effort to bring music closer to their hearts, I composed four part [piano ensembles so they could practice and play as a group finding the joy in creating music together. I started teaching the skills of improvsation and compostion so they would feel more personally involved in the music they performed.
I witnessed many concerned parents pulling their gifted child out of piano and art lessons in their Junior year in order to prepare them for the 'real world' . Music lessons became a much lower priority than getting a job to pay for their car insurance. I understood this parenting logic as 'there is no career in music or art' so why bother with any more lessons? This left brain attitude has begun to dominant our education and we are seeing more children struggling with hyperactivity and attentional issues that could have been prevented if they hadlearned an instrument or discovered drawing and painting.
Now we are entering a new era where there is no quick 'pill' for the myriad of childhood mental health disorders and the epidemic of adult auto immune diseases and it has become necessary to engage the 'work of the whole' to understand the nature of our dis-ease'.
We can demonstrate with brain scans that these right brain disciplines such as music. dance, medication and visualiation all promote right and left brain synchrony and interaction, the 'whole brain' is needed to improve emotion regulation, increase distress tolerance, and improve problem solving. Perhaps we need a 'renaissance approach to healing and for that we need to develop a 'cross-modal' or 'BrainsmART' approach to problem solving to birth a new 'renaissance brain'...
Convinced that there was a higher purpose for the arts to play in education and development, I returned to school at 40 years old and got my Masters degree in Music Therapy and Psychology. I concentrated on the science underlying the creative process while becoming a board certified Music therapist and a licensed professional counselor. The research in creativity was so compelling that I continued exploring the potential healing impact of creativity in people with psychological trauma.
I had seen hundreds of gifted music and art students derailed from developing their talents because of a broken family system that de- valued the arts, suppressed emotions and didnt 'hear or see' the creative needs of theiir children.. I would soon learn how adverse childhood events (or developmental trauma) hidden deep within the family system was the root cause of many deep psychological wounds carried within the gifted children I worked with. I was compelled to go back to school and prove how and why the musical and visual arts- that had so enriched my life - could contribute to the science behind mental health and well being.
I transitioned from teaching the skills of classical piano and drawing and painting to the interdisciplinary study of music therapy and psychology . My Masters thesis compared the traits of the schizotypal and creative personality, revealing to me the many similarities that creative people have with those who become broken, afraid, and confused by their own 'abnormal' perceptions. So many of the most 'gifted' students had trouble learning in school because of their anxiety depression, both of which decreased when they played the piano or created art.
I kept teachiing and decided to submit a pilot study with my piano students to the International Symposium for Music Medicine. demonstrating how on one's favorite music evoked imagery and emotions that were relevant the mental health of my teenage piano students. This pilot study demonstrated how the musical favorites of these teenagers evoked imagery and emotions were accurate indicators of recurring mood states , core beliefs, and behavior. In order to address and treat the full spectrum of trauma -whether a one-incident event or chronic exposure to high stress within the family, I could clearly see the truth behind Bessel van derKokl's statement that to heal trauma we 'had to go beyond the talking cure. I developed a whole brain or 'cross modal' creative arts training program and exercise manual that addressed the needs fort non-verbal strategies in healing the body and mind of people suffering from overwhelming levels of stress. Literally 'drawing' from both my experience as an educator and clinician,this therapeutic model links the musical, visual, movement and verbal strategies in tasks that helps people literally 'see' their worlds in new ways. I contiue to discover in my work everyday with clients, how the non-verbal modes of music and art, writing and dance can access important sensory and emotional material from the body and become re-organized into a meaningful story that promotes life-changing action.
The Therapeutic Purpose of the Expressive Arts, and the Creative Process
So perhaps we are discovering that the real purpose of the expressive arts is to provide individuals with the inner and outer resources for developing physical, emotional mental, and spiritual integration.
Neuroscience has demonstrated that there is a deep therapeutic change that comes from accessing and releasing the impulse for creative self-expression. The creative experience develops the intrinsic motivation and courage required to acknowledge and accept new perspectives and new problem solving. Direct participation in the creative process is shown to promote the growth of neural circuitry that results in new patterns of thinking, feeling, and interacting with the world. It is often these new ways of seeing things that creates the important "ah-ha' moment in therapy and is similar to the artist's creative insight!
How could I bring the language of the arts to mainstreaim psychotherapy?
I designed an Interdisciplinary PhD specializing in the psychobiology of trauma and creativity so that I could research the impact of both
In my clinical work with adults who have experienced developlemental trauma, I have found that the creative expression of emotions, sensations, and thoughts offers a way to contain and organize past and present events that are associated with trauma. The use of cross modal creative arts exercises redirects maladaptive behaviors originating from trauma into rewarding and self-empowering creative action . CMT is designed to activate both sides of the brain in the problem solving process by linking visual and verbal, musical and verbal, and gestural and verbal modes of perception in ONE common problem solving task. The musical. visual and kinesthetic intelligences become connected to the verbal understanding and core belief system. I seek an outcome-based approach, re-evaluating our progress every four months to keep both client and myself accountable for progress and change.
The PRINCIPLES OF SELF
The cross modal strategies that install safe states are grounded in the image-based emotional intelligence. These arts-based strategies use sensations, imagery and emotion as the tools for installing the experience of safety into the client’s own psychobiology. These safe states are experienced by the physiology, the emotions, and the intellect. They interface imagery with words using multiple arts forms that ‘cross’ the the right and left brain processes with the vertical functions of the hindbrain, limbic system and neo-cortex. This lateral and vertical integration can transform safe ‘states’ into deeply rooted character ‘traits’ as SAFETY becomes part of the survival brain’s instinctive response to stress. These psycho-biologically sensitive interventions require practice and repetition in order to re-route the neural pathways driving negative behaviors into pathways that drive creative action. This transition from destructive to creative behavior is accompanied by something I call 'perceptual shifting". This describes a process where all three brains are aligned and ready to work together.
I have seen perceptual shifting occur within the first four months as clients learn strategies to redirect their compulsions, manage their stress and regulate their emotions.
When heightened arousal is re-directed from destructive to created action the cortical processes can be overridden and the non-verbal material of the sensory and affective processes can be explored and released from intrinsic memory. There is nothing more important than engaging the limbic system and hindbrain into the process of self-exploration and awareness . The 'body-brain' and emotional processes are linked to the client's words and narrative through the cross modal interaction bringing a new order and context to the chaos of emotions.
All stages of trauma recovery utilize strategies taken from musical, visual, and movement-based training to achieve a psychological goal by shifting out of our normal ways of perceiving ourselves and others. What is most exciting is to witness how creative self-expression in a safe non-judgmental environment, increases both self-acceptance and attunement to others - the two founcation stones of a strong SELF
I received my PhD in Interdisciplinary studies with a Concentration in Psychology and specialization in the psychobiology of Trauma and Creativity from Union Institute and University. This is a learner-centered institution that requires every student to write his own curriculum and find his own committee of experts in his field of study. Through this work I became mentored by Dr Sandra Bloom of Community Works and founder of Sanctuary model for trauma recovery. Dr Bruce Perry of the Child Trauma Academy, Dr Daniel Siegel of the MindSight Institute and Bessel van der Kolk of the Trauma Academy were direct influences on my research premise. I did my PhD at Union Institute and University because it permitted me to create an interdisciplinary doctoral program in psychology that where my dissertation was designed as of training manual for professionals and scholarly literature review justified and supported all the practical exercises I designed. It is focused on training professional who work in the educational and clinical mental health settings where at-risk populations who have behavioral and attention issues originating in developmental trauma are frequently missed. As an educator /clinician I believe that learning must be therapeutic and integrative for brain ,mind, and body and that therapy must be skill based and educational to be of any value.
I am still a teacher at heart and my passion to teach is expressed with both clients and other professionals in the field. I want to share how the creative arts and neuroscience work hand in hand as agents of therapeutic change. It is my mission to increase the awareness of how the cross modal utilization of the arts can scientifically re process and integrate the full range of traumatic experience. I had a unique and long term experience of creative immersion in the visual and musical skills, with a life time of dance and expressive movement arts. This arts-based development is the foundation on which I build my practice and contribution to the field of psychotherapy, education, and neuroscience.
[Name] is an interactive, solution-focused therapist. Her/His therapeutic approach is to provide support and practical feedback to help clients effectively address personal life challenges. S/he integrates complementary methodologies and techniques to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each client. With compassion and understanding, s/he works with each individual to help them build on their strengths and attain the personal growth they are committed to accomplishing I integrate the concepts and practice of mindfulness with concepts and practice of cross modal creative arts exercises all of which serve as a means to link the triune brain in the problems solving of traumatic fragmentation and other life issues that have derailed healthy development. I am working with the neurobiology of healing trauma facilitating shifts in perception through the cross modal arts process, and of course understanding the underlying neural circuitry, perception, and consciousness associated with these changes.
For detaiied information on my online Training for music therapists and Counselors
Go TO http://www.cmteonlineclasses.com
Professional Activities and Memberships
Approved Provider #109 for Continuing Educations credits from the Certified Board of Music Therapists and the National Board of Certified CounselorsCourses are available for credit for LPCs, MtT-BCs and Psychologists
Member of ISTSS International Studies of Traumatic Stress Society
Certified Clinnical Trauma Professional With IATP International Association for Trauma Professionals