Pre-Education: The Lessons of the Elephant

Dear Community,

In this, the final edition of the pre-conference Pre-Education posts, we bring you a bunch of adorable elephants! 

Besides being absolutely heartwarming and “awwww”- inducing, what can we learn from these elephants as we approach our work at the conference this weekend?  One thing that is evident is the support that elephants give one another.  In this video, we see a young calf who falls down in the middle of a road.  Not only is the sweet little elephant supported by an entire herd, but they remain with the baby, offering gentle scaffolding and support, until he/she is able to walk on with the group.

Link: http://indiasendangered.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/ele.jpg

Often when we do the work of examining our societal power dynamics and holding a magnifying glass to our privilege, diversity, and aversion or attraction to difference, the process can be exhausting, and it can feel insurmountable.  We will fall down time and time again as we explore the borders and shadows of our comfort zones.  We might get frustrated, annoyed, tired, and feel like giving up.

Link: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/10/02/1412282334470_wps_13_Woburn_Safari_Park_s_new_.jpg

We hope that through our work at the conference this weekend, we can take inspiration from these beautiful creatures, and support one another, even, and perhaps especially in moments of struggle and weakness. It is only through holding one another up, that we will be able to slowly make our way across the road, and be able to see the bigger picture.

Link: http://i.imgur.com/jSNqOIp.gif

Lovingly,
the Pre-Education Committee

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Pre-Education: Addressing Disability

Greetings, community!

In this Pre-Education blog post, we offer you resources to read, view, and listen to on the topic of disability.

We start with Stella Young, who was an activist and comedian. She once said, “I want to live in a world where we don’t have such low expectations of disabled people that we are congratulated for getting out of bed and remembering our own names in the morning.  I want to live in a world where we value genuine achievement for disabled people.” In her awesome TED Talk, I’m not your inspiration thank you very much, she explains:

Life as a disabled person is actually somewhat difficult. We do overcome some things. But the things that we’re overcoming are not the things that you think they are. They are not things to do with our bodies. I use the term “disabled people” quite deliberately, because I subscribe to what’s called the social model of disability, which tells us that we are more disabled by the society that we live in than by our bodies and our diagnoses.

Check out the full TedTalk to hear more of Stella Young’s brilliance.


The Social Model of Disability

Like so much of what makes up who we are, the label of “disabled” is in large part a social construction.  So, what is the social model of disability? Take a look at this short youtube video, which defines the social model of disability and outlines its importance in the lives of those interviewed.

Challenging Misconceptions of Disability

In her TED Talk, My 12 pairs of legs, Aimee Mullins speaks to challenging the assumption that she is limited because she has multiple legs. As an athlete, actress, and fashion model she continues to see her many legs as the opportunity for unlimited possibilities. In talking to a group of children she allowed them to look, touch and explore her many prosthetic legs and she notes, “…just like that, I went from being a woman that these kids would have been trained to see as “disabled” to somebody that had potential that their bodies didn’t have yet. Somebody that might even be super-abled.” Check out the full TED Talk below to hear more.

Athlete and model, Kanya Seeser speaks of her body confidence in this Huffington Post article and video. She was born without legs and says, “I’m different and that is sexy. I don’t need legs to feel sexy.” She is also known for her mantra, “No legs no limits.”  Check out an article about her here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/athlete-and-model-born-without-legs-proves-she-wont-be-limited-by-her-disability_560aa841e4b0dd85030929a1

In this compelling TED Talk, Mainstreaming Disability, Dylan Alcott challenges the notion that having a disability is “the worst thing” that can happen to someone.

Ableism

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Ableism as “discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities.”

Forms of Ableism:
http://mic.com/articles/121653/6-forms-of-ableism-we-need-to-retire-immediately

Perpetuating Ableism through language and other missteps:
http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/01/how-feminism-perpetuates-ableism/

Invisible Disabilities

Like many of our intersecting identities, not all “disabilities” are ones that we can see.  The Invisible Disabilities Association defines invisible disabilities as follows:

The term invisible disabilities refers to symptoms such as debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, learning differences and mental health disorders, as well as hearing and vision impairments.  These are not always obvious to the onlooker, but can sometimes or always limit daily activities, range from mild challenges to severe limitations and vary from person to person.


They go on to note that a person with visible impairments can also have invisible disabilities that affect the way they live in and experience the world, and that people with invisible disabilities are often judged as able because of the way they look.  Ultimately, the IDA challenges us to “listen with our ears, instead of judging with our eyes”, and offers many resources about how we can do just that.

What is “normal” anyway?

Rosie King offers a thoughtful, witty piece that encourages listeners to rethink the need/desire for normalcy. In her TED Talk, How autism freed me to be myself, she says:

…if you think about it, what is normal? What does it mean? Imagine if that was the best compliment you ever received. ‘Wow, you are really normal.’ But compliments are, ‘you are extraordinary’ or ‘you step outside the box.’ It’s ‘you’re amazing.’ So if people want to be these things, why are so many people striving to be normal? Why are people pouring their brilliant individual light into a mold? People are so afraid of variety that they try and force everyone, even people who don’t want to or can’t, to become normal.

The Pre-Education Committee will be hosting a workshop at the 2015 NADTA Conference Pre-Conference on Thursday October 15th. Join us from 1:30pm-4:30pm for continued discussions regarding social justice and attraction and aversion to difference.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Warmly,
The Pre-Education Committee

Pre-Education: Cultural Appropriation – What’s Yours is Mine?

In this edition of the Pre-Education blog, we are going to give you some resources to check out around the topic of cultural appropriation.

This video, created by the super awesome Marina Watanabe, is a great introduction to concepts important to thinking critically about cultural appropriation.  Notably, she covers the definition of culture (starting at the 0:26 mark), the myth of “America the Melting Pot” (starting at the 1:53 mark), and the differences between “cultural exchange” and “cultural appropriation” (starting at the 2:46 mark).

**Pro-tip: if you click the “More” button at the bottom of the video, you can also see a live-scrolling transcript of what she’s saying in the video, to read through the concepts, as well as jump to different sections!**

Marina references sociologist Nicki Lisa Cole several times in her video, so here is an article written by Cole that covers many of these topics as well:  http://sociology.about.com/od/Ask-a-Sociologist/fl/Cultural-Appropriation.htm

Cole writes about the difference between assimilation and appropriation as follows:

“Social institutions, like media, education, politics, the judicial system and the police, and peer groups and community leaders incentivize assimilation into the dominant culture by punishing and ostracizing those who do not assimilate. The adoption of the dominant culture by racially and ethnically marginalized groups is forced and required, in the sense that it is necessary for inclusion in society, and in some cases historically and today, physically forced.  Cultural appropriation, by contrast, is not required or forced. It is a choice, and as such, it is an expression of privilege. While people of color are forced to adopt mainstream white culture, white people can sample at the buffet of other cultures at their leisure, picking and choosing what they wish to consume.”

What’s really important here is to consider, as Marina also highlights in her video (starting at the 3:34 mark), are the power structures at play, and whether the culture you are borrowing from is a dominant culture or a subordinated culture.

Like Watanabe, Nicki Lisa Cole also challenges us to ask questions when considering our role in cultural exchange or cultural appropriation:

  • What culture does this style reference, and what is my relation to that culture?
  • Why am I wearing it?
  • Who made the product, and who’s selling it?
  • How accurate/respectful is it to the source?

Marina Watanabe also references the work of Richard A. Rogers, specifically a paper entitled “From Cultural Exchange to Transculturation”.  If you are able, we encourage you to check out this piece as well!  Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2885.2006.00277.x/abstract

As always, we hope this post provides you with some new information to continue critically examining the systems within which we operate, as well as our professional and personal practices.  Let us know what you think in the comments below!

The Pre-Education Committee is looking forward to hosting a workshop during the pre-conference to continue these conversations, and we hope you will join us!  When you register for the conference, sign up to spend some time with us on Thursday, October 15th, from 1:30pm-4:30pm.  We can’t wait to see you!

Warmly,
the Pre-Education Committee

Pre-Education: Age and Generational Differences – Is Age Really Just a Number?

Dear community,

Today we will be talking about an issue that affects us all, in all of our life stages: age.

“The Seven Ages of Man” from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”

This monologue, from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” is famous the world over, and we as drama therapists take special interest in his assertion that “all the world’s a stage”, given our dramatic worldview.  To start us off, just for fun, here is a video of the amazing Morgan Freeman performing this monologue for the 44th Annual Tony Awards in June of 1990:

In this text, Shakespeare does a wonderful job of describing for us just how the “seven ages of man” perform physically in the body and mind, but how do these different ages perform in our society, how do we encounter them, and what do we think about them?

Our assumptions or biases around age or people of different ages can affect how we encounter one another in the world, although these biases or differences are perhaps less widely discussed and explored than other parts of the ADDRESSING framework.

WHAT IS AGEISM?

In the Everyday Feminism article “What is Ageism and Why Should I Care?”, ageism is defined as “an invisible, but potent type of discrimination that favors one age group over another, usually youth over older adults”, and performs in our society in three key ways:

  1. Prejudicial attitudes toward older people, old age, and the aging process: cultural conditioning that teaches us that aging can only be negative.
  2. Discriminatory practices against older people: younger people are often seen to have more contribute to society, whereas older people are thought to have already lived their lives, or that disease is seen as a “normal part of aging” and is less focused on the healthcare system for older patients.
  3. Institutional practices and policies that perpetuate stereotypes about older people: one example of this is our society privileging a youthful aesthetic; beauty is only to be found in wrinkle-free skin, non-greying hair, etc.

We’ve all heard microaggressions that stem from ageism before:

  • “You’ll understand when you’re older.”
  • “You look great for your age!”
  • “You’re just a baby.”
  • “Are you still [insert activity here]?!  At your age?” or “It’s amazing that you’re still [insert activity here]!”

Here are a few more articles to check out about ageism and age-based discrimination:

The Ugly Truth about Age Discrimination
http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2014/01/31/the-ugly-truth-about-age-discrimination/

What Young People Can Do about Ageism Against Older People
http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/12/ageism-against-older-people/

HOW DOES AGEISM PERFORM IN THE WORLD?

Ageism in our Society
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/opinion/ageism-in-our-society.html?_r=1

Three Men, Three Ages, Who Do You Like?
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/23/booming/three-men-three-ages-who-do-you-like.html

YOUTHISM and ADULTISM

As with all things in our world, more than one narrative exists with regards to discrimination around age.  Although ageism is extremely prevalent around older people, it can affect younger populations as well.  There is often an assumption that someone who is younger doesn’t have the life experience to understand the things you “learn with age.”

Youthists and Age Discrimination
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hung-vo/what-does-bring-a-youthis_b_2200679.html

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR COMMUNITY?

As we get closer to the conference, and begin to warm up to conversations and play around difference, diversity, and social justice, we must take into consideration our relationships with age, and the role age can play in our explorations as a community.  There is often a delineation (either explicit or implicit) between “generations” of drama therapists, and it is important to consider how our age differences might affect how we come to this work, our ideas about this work, and how we perform as drama therapists or social justice warriors in the world.

We ask you to consider these questions as we move toward this work together, and encourage you to start a dialogue around these questions in the comments!

  • What is your lived experience of age, or how does your age perform (physically, mentally, emotionally, socially)?
  • Have you had an experience where your age has offered you preferential treatment? Have you been discriminated against in some way based on your age?
  • Do you feel comfortable engaging in dialogue or play around age?  Why or why not?
  • What role does age play in your encounters with clients?  Co-workers?  Supervisors?
  • Does your age (or generational influences) affect your role in the drama therapy community?  How?
  • Does your brand/style of social justice look different than someone else’s because of your age or generational influences?  What role does your age play in your relationship to social justice?
  • How can we as a community bridge the gaps between our different generations to better support one another personally?  Professionally?  Politically?

Respectfully yours,
The Pre-Education Committee

Pre-Education: Book Club!

Dear Community,

The Conference Pre-Education Committee Book Club is going virtual and we want you, yes YOU, to host a Book Club Discussion. So how will this work you ask? Well, we will continue to post book selections each month related to the 2015 NADTA Conference theme Magnetic Forces: Working with Attraction and Aversion to Difference & Social Justice. These books will be accompanied by a suggested curriculum, containing suggested discussion questions, for you to explore. You can host a Book Club that meets in-person, via Google Chat or through email and/or whatever platform best works for you and your Book Club participants.  Then we want to host your thoughts, reflections and/or feedback on our blog. 

Feel free to be creative with these submissions. Send us your thoughts as a poem, a picture, one-word response from each participant, a short story or any other creative expression you so choose. Do you think we missed an important question in our suggested curriculum? Send us a question or thought you want to offer to the community as they explore with their Book Club members. The book club will provide an opportunity to expand your learning around conference themes, as well as allow you to earn self-learning CEs for your RDT.

Our selections include:

Everyday Bias by Howard J. Ross, which explores the science behind the unconscious bias that influences our daily decision-making processes.
Everyday BIas – Book Club Information
Everyday Bias – Sample Discussion Questions

Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life by Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields, which explores the roots of race and racism.
Racecraft – Book Club Information

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, which explores life through the eyes of a 13-year-old boy with autism and is presented as responses to a series of questions.
Reason I Jump – Book Club Information

Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements edited by Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha.  This collection of stories meets the intersection of social justice and the power of the imagination.
Octavia’s Brood – Book Club Information

Check out as many of these selections as you want (by clicking the links below each title to view more information), and send us your reflections to be hosted on this blog!  Submissions can be sent to Pre-Education@nadta.org.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Warmly,
the Pre-Education Committee

Pre-Education: Dealing with Reality – Therapy and Social Justice (feat. Autumn Brown, Diversity Trainer for the #NADTA2015 Conference)

In this blog post, the Pre-Education committee is excited to bring you a special guest blog from Autumn Brown, our diversity trainer for the #NADTA2015 Conference!  Here she is, in her own words, sharing with you a little bit about her work, her passion for social justice, and food for thought as we move toward the conference in just a few short weeks!  You can find more information about her and our special all-conference event at the end of the post, so read on!


Hello NADTA Community!

I am deeply honored and admittedly, totally pumped, to be joining you in October for your annual conference, this year focused on Magnetic Forces: Working with Attraction and Aversion to Difference and Social Justice. It feels incredibly timely, not only because of topical relevance to what is happening nationally and globally related to identity and difference, justice and equity, access and power; but also because of the way my own work has been evolving, especially over the last year.

I have spent much of the last decade teaching, training, and facilitating with groups on issues like oppression and social justice. My focus and expertise is facilitating conversations about race and white identity, and teaching/working with white folks to better understand the history of white identity and white culture. But I have also done extensive work focused on trauma resulting from structural oppression, and intersectionality, that is, the study of intersections between systems of oppression and social dominance, i.e. race (or white supremacy), class (generational poverty), gender (male supremacy and the gender binary), sexual orientation (heteronormativity), etc. One of the baselines of exploring and understanding one’s own identity is understanding that each of us have multiple identities, and where these identities intersect, we may experience ourselves having more or less power depending on our circumstances. Depending on time, place, and crowd, we may experience a higher level of risk to our person. These experiences of risk, of microaggressions, of covert or overt harm, contribute to my belief that the primary way individuals experience structural oppression is as a form of trauma.

It is trauma at these intersections that we will be looking at when we convene in October, and with a sense of some urgency. As therapists, practitioners, colleagues, coworkers, we have a duty to explore our own identities and how they influence us and how we practice. I personally do not subscribe to the concept of “cultural competency” which places a misleading emphasis on gaining expertise in the elusive other. I rather believe in the importance of deeply understanding one’s own identity, and examining the filters through which one experience the other. As mental health practitioners, we must bring a heightened awareness of those filters, because a filter unknown or unacknowledged can be deeply harmful to a client.

I have been extraordinarily lucky for the last half year to be serving as the Interim Executive Director at RECLAIM, a nonprofit that supports queer and transgendered youth, aged 13-25, through mental health and integrative health care, as well as providing training and practitioner development for therapists who wish to have a deeper understanding of gender identities. RECLAIM has an approach to therapeutic practice that understands structural and systemic oppression, by society and government, of “transgressive” gender identities, as traumatic and contributing to the mental and emotional complaints of our clients. This is where the practice begins: rather than pathologizing the gender identity of the client, we honor their inherent self knowing and their right to live authentic lives, and we acknowledge that most of the systems they navigate on a daily basis do the opposite.

It is in this spirit that we will work together in October. We are not politicizing healing therapeutic work just for the sake of being political. We are rather doing an honest assessment of the social location we find ourselves and our clients in, so that we may all do a better job of dealing with reality.

Check out this amazing article, which digs a little deeper into the questions around the relationship between oppression, trauma, therapy, and social justice:

Can We Contribute to Social Movement?

I look forward to working with you all!

Autumn Brown


When you register for the conference, be sure to register for this special all-conference event taking place on Friday, October 15th, from 9am-12noon, right after our opening ceremony!

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 7.36.07 PM

For more information, and to register, click here:
http://www.nadta.org/events/2015-annual-conference.html

Pre-Education: Gender – What’s Sex Got to Do With It?

Dear Community,

In this installment of the Pre-Education Blog, we will be sharing some resources as a starting point for exploring the complex concepts of gender and sex.  There is so much to say about this topic, and we can only begin to scratch the surface here, so we encourage you to take in this extensive post at your own pace.  We hope you will also help us deepen and expand this conversation via this blog, on Facebook, and in person at the conference (read through to the end to find some of the conference offerings that touch on these topics)!

EXPANDING THE BINARIES

People often use the terms gender and sex interchangeably, but they are actually very different concepts, rather than a singular concept. Sam Killerman created a concept called the Genderbread Person (see below) to illustrate the differences between Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Biological Sex, and Attraction, and where each of those aspects of gender could live in the body.  Our society has long considered attraction, gender identity, and sex to be a system of binaries: you are either one or the other, man or woman, gay or straight. Research and best practices into understanding these concepts suggest that rather than a binary, a full spectrum exist in terms of attraction, identity and expression. In drama therapy terms, imagine that these concepts instead of being either/or are instead on a spectogram, and may change over time. Understanding these identities and concepts in this way is more inclusive of a wider range of diverse identities and intersections thereof.

GenderBread Person 2.0

Click for a link to the website, and for more of Sam Killerman’s work on explaining concepts around gender, check out this website.

PLAYING WITH AND PERFORMING GENDER NORMS

Just as with other areas of identity, there are certain societal norms that play out in relation to gender expression. While gender “norms” (check out related article HERE) may be shifting and changing with the times (and are certainly different from culture to culture), there are still many societal influences that determine these so-called norms.  A. K. Summers explores her own internalization and challenges with performing some of these expectations in her graphic memoir, Pregnant Butch, and explains her experience of being “a masculine woman in a world bent on associating pregnancy with a cult of über-femininity” on the podcast, “The Longest Shortest Time”.  One of the important things this kind of non-dominant narrative provides is an opportunity to open up our understanding of gender roles, how they are performed, expressed, and transformed by our society and in our relationships.

EXPLORING BIASES

It is important to understand the real life impact and potential harm that may come from our ideas of gender norms or seeing identity through a binary lens. How does bias around gender play out on a broader scale in our daily lives and experience?  While some of these norms may be changing, a great deal of unequal access to power and privilege remains. For example, there is still a noted bias against women in certain professional fields that are perceived to be largely male or masculine.  Social psychologist Corinne Moss-Racusin researches gender bias at Skidmore College, and in her article, John VS. Jennifer, discovered a glaring discrepancy between the practices around hiring and employing men vs. women based on masculine vs. feminine names alone, in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.  Check out her findings by clicking HERE.

Bias plays out in social and mass media regularly, as evidenced by this Buzzfeed article which chronicles the viral trend happening under the hashtag #DistractinglySexy, and highlights another bias against women in  professional fields. Nobel Prize winning scientist Tim Hunt commented about women who work in science labs, saying that they conform to this trajectory, “you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry” illustrating one of the ways in which women in the workforce may be treated or perceived differently.

Check out some of the highlighted Instagram and Twitter responses here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/skarlan/biohazard-suits-are-nsfw

Y CHROMOSOMES HAVE A VOICE TOO!

But these biases aren’t just directed toward women and girls!  They also play out in societal norms and expectations of men and boys.  This article highlights the dangers of prescribed norms of masculinity for men and boys:

http://mic.com/articles/121310/a-new-study-shows-just-how-dangerous-masculinity-standards-really-are

The following trailer for the documentary, The Mask You Live In, speaks to American masculinity and the detrimental effects that occur when the notion of manhood is imposed on boys and men. It explores the struggle that many young men and boys face in trying to find self while constantly being forced by society’s expectations to prove their (socially and culturally defined) masculinity.

Our work to change masculinity has to be grounded in more than paternalism or accountable relationships across difference (though the latter is vital). Our work to transform masculinity must be grounded in ourselves and our stories.”


TRANSGENDER VOICES

Just like everything else in our world, social pressures and issues don’t affect only those whose gender identity aligns with their assigned sex at birth (cisgendered men and women).  Transgender issues have also been at the forefront of our societal consciousness in recent months, via individuals like Laverne Cox (actress from the Netflix smash hit TV show “Orange is the New Black”), Janet Mock (well-known activist, writer, and TV host), and Caitlyn Jenner allowing society an in-depth look into their struggles transitioning from male to female.

Check out this interesting take on intersections, privilege, and cisnormative standards of beauty by Laverne Cox: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/02/laverne-cox-caitlyn-jenner_n_7495364.html

One of the important points to consider here is that, “too often, mainstream acceptance is based on how traditionally feminine a trans woman can look, and often, a lack of material access, or a lack of desire to appear traditionally feminine makes it harder to achieve that acceptance.”

Despite recent media attention on transgendered individuals, it is important to recognize that both societal bias and real violence against trans* persons, particularly trans* person’s of color, continue to exist. News satirist John Oliver, focused on this issue on his show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.  While this commentary is not perfect, he utilizes his platform to challenge some of the deeply-ingrained patterns and rigid binaries that exist in our society when thinking about gender and sex, showing us just how ridiculous some of our societal norms around transgender “rights” and stereotypes are.

Check out the video here:

PLEASE NOTE: Some mildly explicit language in this video is not censored/bleeped out.

INTERSECTIONALITY AND BEYOND

As we explore our intersecting identities, our relationships to privilege and difference, and ways to call upon our work to generate and fight for social justice, we must constantly remind ourselves to be aware of our biases and how they perform in the world.

Some additional questions to consider:

  • What is your personal lived experience of gender identity and assigned sex?  How has that lived experience been validated or challenged by society or your personal networks?
  • How have you uncovered or dealt with bias (for or against you) based on your gender identity or assigned sex?
  • How does your gender identity intersect with your other identities?  How can we open up conversations around gender identity and assigned sex in our community?  In our work?  In our society?

As always, we invite you to start having these conversations within your personal networks, and respond with what comes up for you!  Let us know what you think, what we might have missed, and/or what you would like to see us explore in the future!  We look forward to seeing you at the conference in October to keep the conversation going.

Respectfully yours,
Pre-Education Committee


Psst!  Are you still reading? We know this has been a hefty article, but if you’re still with us, and want more, check this out for bonus points!  Search Google or Twitter for more about the issues that inspired the #SayHerName hashtag campaign. This is one great example of the intersections of multiple identities and how they are dealt with by our society and media. Here’s an article to get you started: https://www.autostraddle.com/sayhername-shade-schuler-is-the-13th-trans-woman-murdered-this-year-in-the-u-s-302616/


Additional note: If you are interested in finding conference offerings that specifically touch on this topic, here are some of the offerings at this year’s conference that focus on gender and sex in drama therapy:

Thursday:
PC 7: Examining the Impact of Personal Identifiers on Career Advancement in Drama Therapy

Friday:
A3: LGBTQI Foundations: Providing Competent and Affirming Care
A4: “You’re too Female For This Job”: Sexism in the Institution/Therapeutic Relationship

Saturday:
B1: Gender Performance, Role Concepts and the Therapeutic Encounter

Sunday:
D4: Gender Privilege through the Lens of Masculinities and Femininities Theories
D5: Bridging Documentary Filmmaking and Drama Therapy: Women’s Narratives on Skid Row

Click here for more information and to register today!

Pre-Education: Categories and the Power of the Liminal Space

Dear Community,

A basic assumption of Developmental Transformations (DvT) proposes that the experience of “being” is one that is nonrepeating. Every moment that passes is unique and has never existed nor will exist ever again (Sajnani and Johnson, 2014). As a result, we as human beings respond by creating repeating forms – concepts, ideas, labels, words, identities. It is through the creation of these forms that we attempt to find stability in the instability of our experience. Other forms of drama therapy similarly utilize categories (such as roles) to define individual subjective experiences.  It is through these categories that we create our “representation of reality” (Sajnani and Johnson, 2014).

Today we will explore the power of categories and the spaces between.

Many psychologists argue that there is a developmental value of organizing the world around us, but what else?

  • How are we served or harmed by categories?
  • Why do we as human beings have such an irresistible impulse to define the world around us?
  • What categories are most meaningful to us and why?

Invisibilia, an exciting new podcast co-hosted by NPR’s Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel, explores the “invisible forces that control human behavior” (NPR, 2015). “The Power of Categories” explores why we need categories, how they serve us, and how we feel about them.

We encourage you to listen to this podcast and tell us your thoughts!  If you have yet to discover Invisibilia, you are in for a treat.  (And if you heard it once, trust us, it’s worth another listen.) Just click on the link below to listen online, or access it for free on iTunes or any other podcast listening device to download it for listening on the go!

The Power of Categories – Invisibilia

Online: http://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/384065938/the-power-of-categories

On iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-power-of-categories/id953290300?i=334932714&mt=2

In our work as Drama Therapists, we often enter into a liminal space with clients where categories might be less defined. As you listen to Invisibilia, ask yourself:

  • What are the spaces between categories that you explore and navigate in your work and relationships?
  • When do categories show up most in your life or in the lives of your clients?

As you listen to this podcast and consider these questions,  you may remember our post on intersectionality (to refresh your memory, click here: Intersectionality).  Intersectionality is an important concept to consider here because of the frequency with which these categories and identities intersect or overlap.

We each bring our own very diverse and unique categories and identities to our work.  But how do these categories enter the room with our clients?  We also want to offer for your reading pleasure, an article by Thandiwe Dee Watts-Jones, PhD entitled “Location of Self: Opening the Door to Dialogue on Intersectionality in the Therapy Process” that explores the concept of self-disclosure in the therapeutic relationship.

Click here to read the article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20831768

As you read this article, consider the following:

  • When does self-disclosure serve to categorize the therapist or the therapeutic relationship?
  • How does this impact the therapeutic relationship?
  • When does self-disclosure act as a way to alleviate some of the anxiety of our human experience of “being”?

As always, we invite you to start having these conversations with your friendly neighborhood drama therapists, and we hope you will comment with any thoughts or personal anecdotes below!

Categorically yours,
The Pre-Education Committee

References

NPR: National Public Radio,. (2015). 6. The Power of Categories. Retrieved 1 August 2015, from http://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/384065938/the-power-of-categories?showDate=2015-02-06

Sajnani, N., & Johnson, D. (2014). Trauma-informed drama therapy (pp. 68-92). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.


An additional note from the conference planning committee:

Make sure to register as soon as possible for the conference, so that we can all continue to have this conversation and play with these concepts in White Plains!  The early-bird deadline for registration is September 1st, after which rates for registration go up.  Check out the offerings and start registering today by going to:  http://www.nadta.org/events/2015-annual-conference.html

Pre-Education: Privilege (in its Many Forms)

Dear Community,

In this post you will be invited to examine multiple definitions, explanations, and kinds of privilege.  As we move into this conversation, we invite you to consider these questions:

  • What feelings does the word “privilege” elicit?
  • What personal memories does it bring up?
  • Do you remember the first time you heard the word “privilege”? In that memory, how did the concept relate to you and your identity in the world? How did it not relate to you and your identity in the world?
  • Have you had any significant experiences discussing the concept of “privilege” in your family? in your community?

Here come some definitions…

Privilege is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as:

  1. a right or benefit that is given to some people and not to others;
  2. a special opportunity to do something that makes you proud;
  3. the advantage that wealthy and powerful people have over other people in a society.

In the context of diversity and social justice, people often work with the definition of privilege that refers to “the uneven distribution of power within a society” (Robot Hugs, 2014)*.

When calling up images or resources that address privilege, one widely known metaphor is that of the “invisible knapsack” of white privilege.  Peggy Macintosh (1989) used this metaphor to deliver a primer for privilege, defining it as “as an invisible package of unearned assets”.  If you aren’t familiar with her privilege assessment tool, take a look!

http://amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html

Since then, many other writers, artists, poets, and daring explorers (like ourselves!) have begun to generate new ways of describing and exploring this loaded concept.

This infographic/comic does a great job of illustrating the intersections (remember our post on Intersectionality?), privileges, and uneven power distributions that can exist within one person alone!: http://www.robot-hugs.com/?attachment_id=894

While the conversation about privilege often focuses on race, it is important not to overlook the many other areas where privilege can play out, such as:

…and the list goes on. You can check out two extensive lists here:

http://amptoons.com/blog/2006/09/26/a-list-of-privilege-lists/

and here:

http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/category/privilege-lists/

What might be missing from those lists? What are some other identities around which one can experience privilege?  What do your lists look like? Tell us in the comments!

Now… how is privilege experienced?  Check out this article about how one teacher helped his class embody the experience of privilege:  http://www.buzzfeed.com/nathanwpyle/this-teacher-taught-his-class-a-powerful-lesson-about-privil#.ipYymB4rp

The following comic sheds light on how privilege is handed down and played out between people with different life circumstances over the course of their parallel  lifetimes:

http://thewireless.co.nz/articles/the-pencilsword-on-a-plate

This Buzzfeed piece, while not all-encompassing, allows the reader to begin taking inventory of their privilege through the ever-popular format of online quizzes – are you willing to “check your privilege”?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/regajha/how-privileged-are-you#.akxJqmAJP

And finally, here are just a couple of extra resources around privilege that we’ve found that have sparked discussion amongst our committee!

Do you have resources, articles, poems, etc that relate to privilege?  We know you do!  Send us links in the comments below!  We recognize that we have “platform privilege” to choose what we think is a good resource for the community and have awareness that our scope can be limited, too, so please share your knowledge!

We look forward to exploring together all of our relationships to power, privilege, and oppression during the NADTA Conference in October.  In the meantime, we encourage you to seek out other people from our community to start these conversations with – in supervision groups, after work, around your neighborhood!  Grab coffee with a fellow drama therapist and get to exploring!

Respectfully yours,

The Pre-Education Committee

*”Privilege-clean.” Robot Hugs. N.p., 24 Feb. 2014. http://www.robot-hugs.com/?attachment_id=894. 16 July 2015.

Pre-Education: Introducing the Book Club!

The Conference Pre-Education Committee is excited to announce the start of our monthly Book Club! Join us each month as we explore a book (or two) related to the 2015 NADTA Conference theme Magnetic Forces: Working with Attraction and Aversion to Difference & Social Justice. The book club will provide an opportunity to expand your learning around conference themes, as well as allow you to earn self-learning CEs for your RDT.

Our first book will be Everyday Bias by Howard J. Ross, which explores the science behind the unconscious bias that influences our daily decision-making processes. We all have unconscious biases. In fact, thinking about that very fact might make you feel anxious or be worried about the upcoming conference. This is totally normal! As the Pre-Education Committee, we are excited to be able to help NADTA members explore these feelings by offering opportunities to read, learn and discuss together through our book club.

Delve into this book starting now and then let’s discuss together in August. We offer you the following questions to guide your reading:

  • How does bias control the everyday choices we make?
  • How do biases impact the therapeutic relationship?
  • Are we aware of our biases?
  • Are we making choices based on biases that have serious consequences for the lives of others?

We also want to hear from you– what are the questions, thoughts and reflections you have after reading this book?

We will be hosting a small group discussion about Everyday Bias on Thursday August 6th via Google Hangout at 8pm EST/7pm CST/6pm MST/5pm PST. To sign up CLICK HERE.

Please note: there are eight slots available; however, should more people be interested in signing up we will add additional Hangout times.

To learn more about this first book selection and the author, click here: Everyday Bias on Amazon

Unable to join the call? You can still join the conversation! Share your thoughts, responses, and reflections on our Facebook page, in the comments of this blog post, or by emailing us at pre-education@nadta.org!

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Google Signup Link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1qj2AGKZFLjpZjCVbYXpfYb8VZcSDgq-4h6ZfGtTuNXo/viewform

Everyday Bias on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Bias-Identifying-Navigating-Unconscious/dp/1442230835/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436229079&sr=8-1&keywords=everyday+bias