Recently, I was lucky enough to attend the annual American Art Therapy Association conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I look forward to these conferences, not only because I get to be surrounded by professionals that understand art therapy and help energize me with new ideas and new techniques, but I look forward to so much more.

If anyone has been to a conference you know that it is an action packed time. You are living out of a hotel room and constantly ordering food out, arranging your day with the various classes, meetings, and workshops. At times, you whole day is consumed with those meetings, classes and workshops. Yes, it is exciting to learn new things, but it is also very exhausting!

You are following a tight schedule that is filled with sitting still and paying attention.

It can be quiet overwhelming, tiring, stressful, and even boring at times (right?).

I have to say that we, art therapists, go about learning, teaching and creating a special kind of way. Aside from our long schedules classes, meetings, and/or workshops we always dedicate time and energy to the community.

During these conferences we all participate in a community art project that helps spread the awareness of the benefits of art therapy in the community that we are visiting. It could be anything from a group mural painting, art material collection, Habitat for Humanity building project, etc. This year we did a group glass mosaic project with kids, and the final piece was hung on site for everyone to enjoy.

We also have trips planned to local art museums and galleries (big and small), live music performances, and encourage our members to get out and explore the culture and beauty that our local host city has to offer.

Best of all, we have an open art studio.

Yes! We have a designated space to sit and make art. It is open for the majority of the day during conference sessions and workshops. It is full or materials and offers quiet spaces to sit, relax, decompress, and re-energize. Guests are open to come in whenever, make whatever, and stay however long they need. Many of us come in when we are tired, exhausted, or our brain is overwhelmed with so much information that it is difficult to pay attention.

The space is not abused and people do attend their sessions.

We find that having this space and time to relax and reenergize helps us stay focused and attentive in our sessions and meetings. The space allows us to be able to unwind and allow ourselves to recognize that we need a creative break. The space is well used with people coming in and out during the conference. Some spend more time than others, some don’t even use the space. But, the space is there whenever you need it.

I admit that I used the space once and it was much needed. It helped me to unwind and recharge myself to take in the long day of sessions and meetings.

I appreciate that we have this, free of charge, designated space at the conferences.

I am curious to hear what our readers feel about this.

Would you use such a space? Does this sound interesting to you? Would you like a time and space to be free and let loose creatively or do you feel that you would not use such a space?

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