- Unitarian Universalism Connection
When my son, Nic, died on April 21, 2014 at age 35 from an overdose of drugs and alcohol my life as I knew it ended. My spiritual landscape expanded exponentially in ways I could never have imagined nor would I have wanted it to, not for that reason. I’ve struggled to find meaning and purpose since Nic’s death and little by little those things are appearing through the fog of grief. I stumbled upon the information about the Rowe Center Certificate Program in Spiritual Guidance “by accident” and slowly but surely the “accident” is becoming “a calling.”
Now, I want to fully incorporate and emphasize the spiritual in my work as an Expressive Arts Therapist especially with bereaved parents and families and the disturbingly increasing number of people and their families struggling with addiction. Ultimately, my long term goal is to create a therapeutic center for those seeking to find ways to live with and through trauma and loss of all kinds.
With the remarkable breadth of information and experiences found in the Rowe Center Spiritual Guidance Practitioner Program (SGPP) under my belt, I will have much to offer to members of the community of Brattleboro, VT and, hopefully, even more far-reaching who are struggling with loss, addiction and trauma. The SGPP will deepen the work that I do as an Expressive Arts Therapist and grief group facilitator (The Compassionate Friends of Brattleboro) providing me with the means to focus on the spiritual aspects of grieving and growing through trauma and loss. It will also enhance my outreach to those struggling with addiction and those who have endured the death of a loved one through addiction. On May 21, 2017, as part of the Candlelight Vigil of Remembrance created by The Turning Point Recovery Center of Brattleboro, I spoke to the gathering of community members about my experience as the bereaving mother of a child who died as a result of an addiction: The gathering was filmed and the following is a link to my talk: https://youtu.be/8Yzlnf130VU
I am also currently offering my services as an expressive arts therapist to those in our community who are enduring the death of a loved one from any cause through a series of workshops entitled “Loss and Found: The Art of Grieving and Growing.”
My formal training in psychology did not touch upon the spiritual aspects of being human and enduring the losses and traumas, the pitfalls and sudden, unexpected outcomes that come with being human. The SGPP program includes a comprehensive treatment of the element of spirituality in relation to psychology and emotional/mental/physical health with topics such as: spiritual literacy and interfaith awareness, a wide variety of spiritual practices, core capacities such as deep listening, generating a safe, spacious, transformative field for inquiry, working with images, symbols, metaphors and teaching stories, developing intuition, identifying Soul Print, and using the body as a feedback system. In addition, throughout the program there is attention paid to special topics and niche areas for spiritual guidance such as; death and dying and end of life issues, dream work, addiction and recovery, spirituality issues related to sexuality and sexual identity, mental health and spiritual wounding from past experiences, spiritual perspectives in the world of business, sacred activism and peacemaking, leading groups and retreats, ethics, professionalism…the list goes on.
Because the SGPP incorporates a wholistic approach to spirituality it also dovetails beautifully with my “work” in the area of Sacred Sign Dance/Poetry-In-Motion. As a result of attending community college classes in American Sign Language and Creative Dance in the 1970s, I became fascinated with incorporating dance, sign language and spirituality into my performance art. Since then, I have performed in a wide variety of venues including a number of UU churches and social action programs in which I can also express my great despair for and love of the natural world. Included in my performance art, “Sacred Sign Dance,” are prayers for the Earth and all the natural world. I believe our disconnection from the natural world through accelerated modernization and the psunami of technology that has engulfed our culture is at root of so much of our human dysfunction and spiritual disconnection. My thesis of 1992 for the graduate program in Dance/Movement Therapy-Counseling Psychology at Antioch University New England was entitled “Sacred Sign Dance: A Creative and Therapeutic Integration of Language, Movement and Spirituality.” A good part of my work as a Spiritual Guidance Practitioner will include guiding people in the use of the arts to express themselves as they navigate their way through grieving, loss and trauma. I emphasize turning to the natural world for inspiration, comfort and the gift of “getting out of one’s own way” to recognize the grandeur and beauty of the Great Mystery of Life.
I hope you find my goals worthy of contributing to my fund in order for me to attend the Rowe Center Certificate Program in Spiritual Guidance. Thank you.