Even though my title may be Lead Clinician here at Painted Brain, I consider myself a contributor just like everyone else. Our vision at Painted Brain is to break down these traditional power dynamics between clinicians and so-called clients.  I have worked in traditional organizations and found that these hierarchies can sometimes strip individuals of empowerment and dignity.  I am no different than any other contributor here especially, as I too myself have a diagnosis. I do like to think that through my schooling and professional experience I have gained some skills along the way that really anyone can be privy to. The most important being practicing compassion and empathy, self-awareness and observing human patterns and behaviors. In my role here, I do my best to model these skills and impart my knowledge to my clinical team as well as other contributors. I believe these skills are what create a long-lasting, positive, and supportive community.

The most powerful tool we use at Painted Brain to strengthen community building, as well as individual growth, is our art groups. Running these groups at our center and offsite has been a humbling and enriching experience. For me, the most rewarding groups have been when contributors take ownership of their own group through leading activities and choosing what activities they want to engage in. I have also watched multiple individuals in groups find a creative niche that they had never explored previously. Through this experience, they have discovered a new healthy coping tool as well as improved self-esteem. Lastly, supporting contributors socialize and encourage each other is invaluable.

Part of my role has been to develop other enriching clinical programs staffed with volunteers, clinical interns, and peer leaders.  Two of the programs I have spearheaded are our homeless outreach program “Art Cart” and “Women’s Day”, which takes place at our community center. My hopes in developing these programs are to continue reaching as many people as possible who have been isolated and left vulnerable through trauma-informed, community-based, and creative ways. We as a community need to start looking outside of the box. Through an empathetic lens, I am certain we can help every individual participate with a purpose in our society.