Yearly Archives: 2012


Purposeful Creative Activity

Art Marman, Centennial Professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin and editor of the Journal Cognitive Science, recently wrote an interesting piece in the Harvard Business Review on The illusion of exploratory depth or unexpected gaps in our knowledge – things we are sure we know or understand, but when it comes down to the crunch – have little idea. He goes on to explain the detrimental challenges this lack of real understanding can have on business, where everyone nods politely and knowingly, but actually have vastly differing ideas – if any, of what the concept or term at hand actually means.

Marman goes on to add, “no matter the scale, discovering your explanatory gaps is essential for aspiring innovators. An undiagnosed gap in knowledge means you might not fully understand a problem. That can hinder innovative solutions.”

But what happens when diagnosing gaps in employee understanding begins to look like a time consuming occupation or even worse – embarrassing for those who might be expected to show what they don’t know?

An interesting strategy that can ensure valuable business time is not wasted on misconstrued or non-existent beliefs is to use Purposeful Creative Activity (PCA); a process where drawn images and clear directives are used to meet goal directive objectives. PCA provides a flexible and diverse communication tool that can be used to share, process or clarify work-related issues. The visual nature of the activity allows topics to be made ‘concrete’ so they can be collectively seen, explored and understood.  Not only does the process augment verbal language, the images can also be used to trigger unconsciously held connections and insights.

Providing a very simple PCA directive such as ‘draw how you see the term ‘streamlined’ (the example used by Marman) allows employees to focus of the aspects of the term they understand without over-exposing themselves to highlight aspects that they don’t. Also, because images operate on an unconscious level they provide a communication tool that can be more memorable than words alone and enables the term to be ‘imprinted’ on both verbal and visual levels – and therefore more easily recalled.

Instead of an activity that diagnoses gaps in knowledge (an approach clearly ensconced in the medical/illness model of intervention), PCA proactively facilitates an activity which instead introduces a more positive ‘what we know collectively’ approach. Gaps in knowledge are quickly transformed with an approach that is not only enjoyable for participants, but also time effective and efficient.

 

Supporting Employee Wellbeing through Creativity

 


Using Purposeful Creative Activity (PCA) to support Collaborative Employee Learning

Art Marman, Centennial Professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin and editor of the Journal Cognitive Science, recently wrote an interesting piece in the Harvard Business Review on The illusion of exploratory depth or unexpected gaps in our knowledge – things we are sure we know or understand, but when it comes down to the crunch – have little idea. He goes on to explain the detrimental challenges this lack of real understanding can have on business, where everyone nods politely and knowingly but actually have vastly differing ideas – if any, of what the concept or term at hand actually means.

Marman  adds, “no matter the scale, discovering your explanatory gaps is essential for aspiring innovators. An undiagnosed gap in knowledge means you might not fully understand a problem. That can hinder innovative solutions.”

But what happens when diagnosing gaps in employee understanding begins to look like a time consuming occupation or even worse – embarrassing for those who might be expected to show what they don’t know?

An interesting strategy that can ensure valuable business time is not wasted on misconstrued or non-existent beliefs is to use Purposeful Creative Activity (PCA); a process where drawn images and clear directives are used to meet goal directive objectives. PCA provides a flexible and diverse communication tool that can be used to share, process or clarify work-related issues. The visual nature of the activity allows topics to be made ‘concrete’ so they can be collectively seen, explored and understood.  Not only does the process augment verbal language, the images can also be used to trigger unconsciously held connections and insights.

Providing a very simple PCA directive such as ‘draw how you see the term ‘streamlined’ (the example used by Marman) allows employees to focus of the aspects of the term they understand without over-exposing themselves to highlight aspects that they don’t. Also, because images operate on an unconscious level they provide a communication tools that can be more memorable than words, while enabling the term to be ‘imprinted’ both verbal and visual levels and therefore more easily recalled.

Instead of an activity that diagnoses gaps in knowledge (an approach clearly ensconced in the medical/illness model of intervention), PCA proactively facilitates an activity which instead introduces a more positive ‘what we know collectively’ approach. Gaps in knowledge are quickly transformed with an approach that is not only enjoyable for participants, but also time effective and efficient.

 


Employee wellbeing – Using images to transform feelings of failure and stress

As a generalizable experience, the positive transformation of failure to build resilience is something that can easily be embraced in art. In our own work we find that art making provides an effective microcosm where individuals can make mistakes and work through them without the ‘big risk’. It sort of piggy backs on Fredrickson’s Broaden and Build theory as successful triumphs are ‘banked’ to be drawn upon at a later time. For example if you can work through the frustration or challenge of a drawing, even the accident of spilling your paint across the page – the ability to accept and move beyond challenges becomes something that your personal experience says ‘you can do’ – not just in art, but in other areas of your life.  The added beauty of using art making to support resilience and wellbeing is that while engaged in a creative challenge we often move into what Csíkszentmihályi, describes as flow, a state where we are mindfully and positively in the present and not stressing about past or future.

The application of art-based techniques to support wellbeing are in fact endless. At work, using directives such as ‘draw your role in relation to the team’ provides a concrete  visual vehicle that can instigate discussion, understanding and awareness. In a group, images provide a means through which everyone can ‘see’ where every one else ‘is’ and because the medium is visual it is more memorable than words alone. Even stress producing issues like role clarification can be swiftly nailed down by using arts-based visuals. Asking employees to render their roles visually can be used to identify which areas of work they find most rewarding and most challenging, where they might need help and how they might be directed to succeed. In fact research has shown that drawing pictures of work-based stressors and transforming them into less stressful images can have a positive impact on our perception of stress, by diffusing it into something we perceive as more manageable.

 

 

 


Collective Arts – Art Therapy is not Art Class

Right now art therapists the world over are probably celebrating the Duchess of Cambridge’s decision to support The Art Room as one of her charitable causes. It is an impressive looking organization, conducts research and appears to have a strong management committee, but with one small exception  – there are no art therapists on staff.

As a profession art therapy struggles. It is experiential, so it can be difficult to explain exactly how it works; research is still in the early stages and is typically qualitative rather than quantitative. Many art therapists come from a wide variety of approaches (phenomenological, humanistic, psychodynamic, positive psychology the list goes on), some focus on product some on process and there are hundreds of ways of making art. But art therapy works…

To practice as an Art Therapist, in fact to call oneself an Art Therapist requires graduate level study at an HPC (Health Professions Council) recognized institution – in the UK there are currently 9. Like it or not, having a lovely combination of counselling diplomas and art classes does not make you an Art Therapist any more than having a stethoscope and a white coat makes you a doctor.

Art, although prevalent in our society, is a powerful communication tool that is capable of accessing a myriad of unconscious material. It functions symbolically, metaphorically and very often what is not included in the image is as important as what is – all subtle aspects of the healing and communication process that art therapists are trained (over years) to see.

So to the Duchess of Cambridge I say thank you, your visit to the art therapy suite at Montreal’s Sainte-Justine University Hospital this past summer must have had a very powerful impact. However, it is essential that the Art Room, which I also applaud, hires an HPC registered Art Therapist because this profession needs this public voice and it needs to be represented appropriately.

 


Collective Arts – How to write a press release

A press release is a PR tool for communicating with journalists and promoting your programme or event. It answers the questions who, what, why, when, where and how and is typically spit into 4-5 short paragraphs which will also include 2 relevant quotes.

Headline: one sentence that peaks interest

Paragraph 1. Arrange the information in order of importance. What is the most important aspect of the message that you are trying to get across? Is it the who, the what, the why, the where or the how? Ideally the first paragraph will answer as many of these questions as possible. Journalists are busy people and they often won’t read to the end.

The easiest way to start is simply write down each of these questions and then answer them; it will help you prioritize your message.

Paragraph 2. A quote from a person relevant to the story strategically thought out to communicate as much about your message as possible. No, it doesn’t have to be something they actually said, they just have to agree with it and ‘ok’ it before you send out your release. Make sure you add credibility by saying say who the person is, what they do and/or where they work.

Paragraph 3. Additional information regarding other interesting aspects of the story (but not a new story) this may be embellishments of the who, what, why, where, how questions – but make sure it is pertinent and use your words wisely.

Paragraph 4. A second quote that illuminates more about the story. Can be from the same person or someone new, but again say who they are, where they work and what they do.

Paragraph 5. A concluding paragraph that contains the least significant material you want to communicate. Sometime the dates and times of the event are put here or ‘who to contact’ in regards to the programme or event.

As a whole, a good press release will almost function as a mini article, you know you have done well when a paper prints it verbatim.

Make sure you include addresses, dates, times, ensure there are no typos or spelling mistakes, have someone else proof read it before you send it out. Edit until your release flows beautifully.

Send your press release to the attention of journalist(s)  you think may be interested in your topic or addressed to the editor of the subsection you are submitting to, ie. the lifestyle editor, the Body and Soul section etc.  Be sure to use their name and spell it correctly.

Ensure your own contact details are included. (see example below and lay it out in this fashion on a piece of organisational letterhead if possible.)

 

 

                                                                                                        CONTACT: Julia Ruppert

                                                                                                        Collective Arts

                                                                                                        07711 938 921

                                                                                    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

                                                                                    (or the date for when it is to be released)

 

Catchy headline in bold font and larger type centred

 

In answering your who, what, why, when and where you will hone your message. Through this exercise you may also find that what you thought was the most important thing, is in fact not.

“Writing a press release is a art, but your goal is to communicate with your journalist and let them use their craft,” (get any more how’s or whys into your quote – use it strategically) says Julia Ruppert, Founder of Collective Arts, a non-profit arts organization that delivers creative programming to a wide range of communities in Richmond Borough (see how I snuck more information in here).

In the second paragraph you can provide more information that sounds paraphrased, but is not a quote. Ruppert goes on to add how it is also important to write in the language of the people you are trying to communicate with and avoid any jargon.

In a press release, the more you can condense your language down the better. You are not looking to impress anyone with your florid terms, that’s the journalists’ job. If they have any more questions they will call you.

“Once you have sent out your release you will need to call the journalist(s) to confirm that they have received it. This is essential,” adds Ruppert. “If you can, develop a relationship, invite them in to see where you work, ask if they have any more questions.  You may also want to include images or invite them to bring a photographer down.”

Finish off with any dates or times of your event and/or details of people who can be contacted for more information.

 

ENDS

-30-

In North America finish the release with -30- and in the UK ENDS, this lets the journalist know there are no missing pages.

 

 

 

 


HR Directors take note – Kate Middleton chooses Art Therapy

It would seem clear that a royal visit to the art therapy suite at Montreal’s Sainte Justine Hospital this summer has had a deep impact on Kate Middleton. Yesterday, it was announced that among her chosen charitable causes, our new royal star has selected The Art Room, an Oxford based charity that offers art therapy to children.

For many art therapy professionals this is a moment for celebration and will provide the well-needed PR exposure that the field finds so challenging to self-generate.

Part of the issue is that art therapy is experiential. Yes, you can describe it, but words alone are incapable of illustrating the profound that art therapy is and that Kate Middleton very likely saw.

Art Therapy however, is an extremely flexible tool that can equally be harnessed to support employee mental wellbeing; clarifying roles, setting objectives, enhancing communication and generating awareness through an activity that is not only memorable, but also empowering and enjoyable.

Furthermore, unlike current employee well-being trends such as CBT or mindfulness techniques, with art therapy there is no need for time consuming training or learned practice skills.

So, to Kate Middleton’s choice I say ‘hurrah!’ I applaud, I cheer – because one day soon some very innovative and forward thinking PR Directors will be enabling their staff to find out just how incredible this tool can be.