LHC- Hello there and welcome to "Let's make a Health Connection," your Local Health Connect podcast series in Vancouver, Washington.
In this series we interview and showcase the many healthcare providers and resources that are featured on our website: localhealthconnect.com.
For those of you who don't know us yet, Local Health Connect is a hub where our community can easily search local resources and connect with providers for mind body and spirit health.
Thanks for listening today I'm Jennifer Barber, licensed clinical social worker in Washington and Oregon and I practice right here in Vancouver, Washington
I'm happy to introduce our community to Jocelyn Fitzgerald. Jocelyn is a board-certified Art therapist with a thriving practice. Jocelyn loves directing her clients to tap into their own creativity to connect with what they're feeling on the inside and bring it to life on the outside.
Welcome to Local Health Connect Jocelyn and thank you for stopping by.
JF- Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.
LHC-I'm excited to be here too. I guess, full disclosure, we should let people know that not only are we colleagues here in the community but we're also friends, so it's a pleasure for me to spend some time with you, my friend.
JF-Yeah you too.
LHC- So let's just let people know what art therapy is. You are an art therapist, what exactly is that?
JF- Yeah yeah you know it's interesting um it used to be people would ask me are you going to make art for me and then i'm going to feel better and so I realized like a lot of people really
don't know what art therapy is. So art therapy is kind of like using a different language to communicate feelings and emotions that sometimes we're not aware of. Um so it acts as a tool for me to kind of see what's going on underneath the surface. I can ask people you know can you draw just using mind shape and color what you're feeling. And oftentimes we'll get these amazing images that we can talk about and they'll be kind of this golden road to the unconscious material of what's going on beneath the surface.
What a beautiful way I mean, That's a beautiful way...
...to watch it this works so well … yeah thank you.
LHC-"A golden road." I love that.
JF- yes yes yeah
LHC- How long have you been doing this? First off I should ask you if you have a practice here in Vancouver, Washington, correct?
LHC- And where in Vancouver? Where is your practice?
JF- So I have an office um on Officer's Row but due to the pandemic I've been working from home and then once in a while I'll meet a client at the park and we'll do some art outside. I've been doing this for a while so it's a little bit. It's kind of a complicated question because I took a couple years off when I had my son but I've been doing this since like 2005. 2006. Just for a while now and you know I love I love art therapy and I love EMDR and I kind of thought well if EMDR takes off then i'll just stop doing the art maybe because I love the EMDR so much but i've just found the art works so well and I don't ever want to give it up I love it and I personally, you know, practice my own art and find it so therapeutic and helpful for me and processing feelings and even thoughts that I can't quite articulate around experiences, even complicated experiences maybe with clients. I can draw them out much more easily than maybe talking or even journaling
LHC- mm-hmm I see some of your art every once in a while I follow you on Instagram. I wonder if people might want to know where they could find you on Instagram? And then we'll get back to talking a little more about art.
JF- Yeah. Oh my goodness I think it's just my name. I think it's @jocelyn_fitzgerald but I could send you the link and then I don't know if you're gonna have show notes would you be able to put it into the show notes.
LHC- Oh we could definitely put it into the show notes. Good idea.
JF- Okay perfect. Yeah.
LHC- I love watching what you're creating. So ,let's get back to like office work. Tell me if someone were to come to you for the very first time what could somebody expect to experience seeing you on that very first visit?
JF- an example of something that I would do with a client and during a first session is I would actually do this a lot. I have people draw a tree and I ask them if they're willing. Of course everyone gives permission to do art first and then if they are I ask them to do a tree with three parts. So the first part will be the root system and then the second part will be the trunk and then the third will be the tree, the branches and the leaves at the top of the tree.
This is a tree that is a combination of both art and words. We talk about putting the root to some of the problems in the roots or areas that we're going to work on. So somebody might come and say they really want to work on anxiety. They get really nervous in class like a teenager might feel a lot of anxiety around having to give a presentation. So they could put that in their root system and then in the trunk I would ask them to put what supports them like maybe their dog or their friends or their parents, whatever it is. We will put all the words of what supports them. And then the branches and beliefs would be words of what they hope for their future, their wishes, their desires. Then we have this concrete record, of like okay, this was our very first session or second session, where we kind of mapped out what the problems were, where they're getting their support and then kind of future what they want to work towards in the future. It's just kind of a gentle way into the art process because most people can draw a tree.
A lot of people once they start doing the art, they're like, oh I forgot how much I enjoyed this. I haven't done art since second grade. A lot of people stopped doing art in second grade because art kind of stops in school for a lot of people and they start doing sports or other things. So, people, adults can feel a bit insecure about their art skills because they're doing art as a second grader because that's where they stopped.
JF- I kind of talked about how art is a great metaphor for life and therapy and how it's uncomfortable and it's okay to feel uncomfortable when you're starting out doing something new. But we get to have a safe space where they can work through those uncomfortable feelings within the art.
LHC- I love it.
JF- Hopefully gain a sense of mastery yeah and and some confidence in themselves through their art.
LHC- Absolutely that's so great. What an involved first session that would be and kind of exciting.
JF- Yeah yeah thanks yeah.
LHC- So i'm curious and what that was you know you kind of went into my next question was which was can you give me an example of using art when working with a client. You know one of my most favorite issues, if we can call it that, is trauma. Can you give me an example, you probably have several, when you have a client who is experiencing trauma or has experienced trauma in their past how would you incorporate art into helping them process that trauma?
JF- Yeah. Well, lately i've been doing this process that one of my friends created and it's kind of along the lines of the hero's journey. It's creating a little tiny book out of paper so it's a bit of origami. I teach them a tiny little origami piece with the paper and then the book has six pages and a back cover. I asked them on each page um specific questions to draw out. So like for example, the first page is to draw a character and this character can be you, it can be an imaginary character, it can be any any character that you want. Then they gradually go into what would your character need if they were going to be going on a journey. So they grab the tools that they need and then page three or four there's a conflict there's something in the way that's stopping you. What is it? Draw what it is. Then, as we go through their little book then you've overcome the conflict. How did you do it? What skills did you use? Then at the end, you know, it's like how do you feel now? Draw that out. Then at the very end, I ask a series of questions and we name the book on the front of the cover and on the back that we talk about what's the sequel to the book going to be called? What would that image look like? It's so powerful every book that I've seen made so far, even the ones that people kind of are like this is silly, silly exercise. Even though we find really interesting, rich information about the trauma that they're currently working on. Whether that's like you know, a bad car accident or just like anxiety, like I said around school. You know all of those things people have to overcome and the art just kind of access this kind of bridge to that unconscious material like what's really going on and what skills do you already have, what strengths do you already have inside that we can use? And you can pull on to get through this conflict or this period of struggle.
LHC- Mm-hmm. So beautiful.
JF- They have that little that little book to take with them and they you know can refer back to those pages and be like oh yeah my character went through this and they came out okay.
LHC- Absolutely, yes. So here's something that just came to me because I'm thinking about the time that we're living in right now where we have lived in this pandemic, Covid pandemic, and there are people who are sharing with me that this also feels like a trauma. I'm wondering if this is coming up in your practice and how you might be incorporating art to help people move through the feeling of isolation, you know, missing their family and friends just moving through or even just sitting in it?
JF- Well one of the things I love to do and I think that this kind of actually sums up all of therapy is just giving space to sit with your feelings. I think art kind of creates that natural pause, to actually sit and look at what you're feeling and feel those feelings and then work through that. So one thing that I love is this mix of art therapy and EMDR where you pick, maybe you pick the pandemic as your trauma that you just want to focus on for that day and maybe there is a specific moment. I remember early on in the pandemic going to the grocery store and looking at the apples and having this like an internal panic attack of, like, "Oh my gosh. i'm about to touch this fruit."
JF- "What if somebody touched it that also had the disease and now i'm gonna get it and it was the weirdest realization.
JF- I like went home and made art about apples. Kind of sat with that fear you know and just let myself feel it and then because I like I like EMDR and i'm really a fan of the bilateral movement and using the body I sat with it and then I did my bilateral tapping. I did this little it's called the butterfly hug where you cross your arms and you tap on either side of your body. I just felt all that fear and sadness that my life was so different now and that going to the grocery store felt so scary and kind of like you know work through it a bit. it was a good practice for me to be like, "Oh a lot of my clients are feeling this too," Then sure enough you know as the time went on, I would start hearing stories about different experiences being out in the beginning stages of the pandemic.
JF- Being really terrified, yeah.
LHC- and now we have this this turn here where now we're being told, "Okay, we can go out and, you know, let's add on top of that, we can go out and be outside without masks!" Right? So now people are like stepping out and feeling that discomfort. Right? Is it safe? Is it not safe?
JF- I know I know. I mean even recently I was at my son's baseball game and I was like, meeting someone new, and like do I shake hands? Are we going to be shaking hands again?
JF- Like it's really awkward. This is a whole new way of being, yeah.
LHC- Yeah we're having to relearn and find a new normal with comfort.
LHC- Yeah yes. So you have talked a lot today about and mentioned a lot about EMDR and i'm wondering if in a nutshell because I know EMDR is a big big thing but in a nutshell can you let people who are listening know exactly what is EMDR?
JF- So EMDR is this amazing protocol. It was a relatively new trauma protocol created in the 90s by Francine Shapiro and she discovered, she's a Psychologist, she discovered she had cancer and she was thinking about a traumatic experience and she was walking and she started moving her eyes on the trail, looking back and forth. She recognized this bilateral eye movement at the end of her walk. She actually felt less distress in her body around this experience. So she started testing this concept of bilateral eye movements and did tons and tons of research. Now it's the number one, um trauma treatment, that and CBT are the number one trauma treatments right now. Basically what it is, you bring up the trauma so your client kind of has one foot in the past, one foot in the present. You definitely don't want them to stick both feet in the past and get flooded and overwhelmed, you know that can just be re-traumatizing. So you kind of again, you're like you're the trainer, you're the personal trainer on the hero's journey and they're the hero but you're teaching them some tools and skills so that they can self-regulate before you go into the trauma. But once you feel like they're ready, you can bring up the trauma and then you activate it by asking a series of questions. Like.What's the negative belief you have? So for example, me at the grocery store, I could, maybe my negative belief was like "I'm gonna get sick and die" So you you find that belief and then you ask, "Well what would you prefer to believe?" You know my preferred belief would be, "i'm gonna be okay. I can handle this." And then you ask some scaling questions, like "How intense is it zero to ten?" You kind of ring the bell, the trauma bell. And then once it's rung, you start doing, you do bilateral movements. So this can be eye movements or it can be bilateral tapping. Can even be bilateral sounds. I kind of often well, I try to do the eye movements, but if people would prefer eyes closed, then we'll use tapping. it's intermittent, so you bring up the trauma, you do the bilateral movements and then you check in. Then they let you know and you keep going until you bring the distress down. It's really quite powerful for a lot of people. I mean, I sometimes feel like I'm drinking the kool-aid and I oversell it but I've had such great results that it's hard not to get really excited about it.
JF- And that mixed with art has been just such a fun formula for me and my practice.
LHC- So great. I so appreciate that you are offering the community that service and you're so good at it. You're so good at it so thank you so much.
JF- Yeah, I love it.
LHC- So Jocelyn. Are you working on any projects right now? I know you like to keep busy.
JF- Yes. I do.
LHC- Oh my goodness.
JF- I'm working on three. One is my book project that just came out, which is a children's book. I did it with a friend who's a behaviorist and we were basketball moms and we kind of had career crushes on each other. She's a behaviorist in the school system and i'm you know, this art therapist, in private practice and we would sit together at our son's basketball games and share what we were using and what was working. I was so impressed with Heather that I was like, can I come to your school and see what you're doing because I was just amazed that she was doing these small groups and getting these great results. So I got to go watch her hands-on and she's such an amazing teacher, and then we just started talking about this concept of creating these stories. I love art mixing and art with these mindful stories and we kind of just over years talked about it. Then the pandemic hit and we were like we really need to do something here and I was just so saddened by how many people, and I know you experienced this too, how many people were reaching out to me and to other therapists that I know and love. And new therapists were full and I was too and I was like gosh there's just not enough services for all the kids and people that are needing therapists. So we were like this is the right time to create this book. It's not it definitely not as good as going to therapy but it can definitely act as a bridge for parents to help kids to learn tools to self-regulate and self soothe, to ultimately make better decisions and choices rather than blowing out.
LHC- Yes! And the art is beautiful! You illustrated this book and it's gorgeous!.
JF- I loved and that was another part of my like pandemic self-care was just creating art every day and that's gonna become a really regular part of my self-care practice.
LHC- So if people are hearing this right now and they want to go check out this book what's the name of the book?
JF- Yeah. It's called "Colorful plays mindful art and story for kids."
LHC- Where could someone find this?
JF- Yes. It's on Amazon and we also have a free resource, which is so great, it's a huge 23 page pdf on how to create calm with your kids using art. It’s got some questions and some art exercises and that's been really fun to hear back from people that they're enjoying that.
LHC- Great and other projects?
JF- Oh yeah. So the other project is a chapter and a book. I'm going to be one of the editors, one of four editors, on this book project which is art therapy and EMDR. It's more of an academic book and that is going to be coming out well we're hoping to have everything done by December- January and that's going to just be focusing...my chapter is going to be focusing on using art and EMDR with paraprofessionals in developing countries. So again it's just like there's just not enough therapists like, for example, in India it's like one percent of the population that needs mental health services is getting it. So a huge percentage of people are not getting mental health services. So finding ways to help train paraprofessionals how to use tools safely. Obviously you know you don't want to do like the full on EMDR but there's ways to modify it that are really really effective and really safe. And really easy to train people on. So that's the other project that i'm working on and my friend from Ethiopia is going to help me with my chapter. He's a social worker from Ethiopia now living in Canada.
JF- My third project though is probably just continuing to do the work in Ethiopia. Raising money. Raising awareness for what's going on over there.
LHC- Which we could do a whole other podcast on just specific to that work and we might do that. I think that's a good idea. We may. Thank you for doing this work by the way. I know that that is that can be heartbreaking and you're doing it.
JF- I just love it.
LHC- Yes. Yes. So Jocelyn, I appreciate so much you spending the time here today and just getting the word out about what you're doing and what art therapy is and what EMDR is. You know we could spend a whole hour talking just about art and just about EMDR. Thank you so much for taking this time. People can find information about you on localhealthconnect.com they can find your website and how would they find you on the web?
JF- It's just my name www.jocelynfitzgerald.com.
There you go.
I also have, I don't know if this would be helpful but I have an etsy art shop which is therapy tools for therapists like different stages of EMDR. It has a bunch of stuff on DVT, like making therapy tools for clients for therapists to share with their clients especially online since a lot of us are online.
LHC- Great. So where would we go on etsy?
JF- That's "Colorful Therapy tools". That's the name of the shop. Colorful Therapy Tools.
LHC- very cool yeah and we will put links to these in the show notes for people to find whenever they have time…
that's wonderful thank you thank you so much i'm so excited you're doing this…
...thank you Jocelyn. We will go ahead and we will sign off now and maybe we'll have you come back another time and do a deep dive into EMDR.
JF- I would love that.
LHC- All right thank you.
LHC- This is Jennifer Barber. Thank you again for listening to "Let's make a health connection". Find us on the interwebs at localhealthconnect.com also search for us on facebook instagram and twitter. Links and show notes for this interview are available on our podcast page. I really enjoy putting these interviews together and I hope you made a health connection. We'll talk again next time.
Let's make a health Connection, copyright 2021, all rights reserved is the exclusive property of MBS Therapy LLC, a Washington-based company. Local Health Connect is inclusive and does not endorse any political or religious group. Thank you again for listening and we'll see you next time on localhealthconnect.com
By Local Health Connect 5-6-2021