We’ve just returned from the American Society for Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama Annual Conference. This year the event took place just north of Dallas. Somehow we managed to get away from the conference just long enough to visit the Dallas Holocaust Museum and the Dallas Botanical Gardens.
Visiting the Holocaust Museum provided an opportunity to share thoughts about the Holocaust specifically, and genocide in general, with others whose lives have been impacted by the unthinkable. We were heartened to hear that the museum is building a new home, and will be dramatically broadening its focus to include genocides from around the world, including the genocide of Native American peoples.
Visiting the botanical gardens gave us the opportunity to be outside in a beautiful setting. The day was pleasant and warm, and we soaked up the spring air, bird song, and bright sunshine.
Most of our time in Dallas was spent at the conference site. For me, the conference offered an opportunity to check-in with clinicians and others engaged in theatre for social change, many of whom I have grown to deeply appreciate. We also got to meet new folks who are committed to engaging the arts to address the mental and spiritual health needs of individuals, families, and communities. Being artists, we found ourselves sharing ideas, techniques, and concerns, and playing a good deal, sometimes much too late at night for this aging one.
Over the course of five days I had several opportunities to continue to explore the interface between Narrative Therapy and the Expressive Arts Therapies. There were also sweet moments when Indigenous, Chicana/o and Asian voices reframed, and sometimes challenged, a very European view of persons and the world.
Each time I’ve gone I have returned from ASGPP conferences with a set of complex, often conflicted, feelings. This return is no different. What is different is my excitement at the presence of more new, often previously marginalized, voices. Next year the conference will be held in New Hampshire and I hope even more diverse persons and notions will be welcomed into the conversation.