Graduate School of Social Work Lecturer Meagan Corrado, M.S.S. '09, who is also an artist, has always taken a creative approach to her work with children, adolescents, and families, incorporating elements of art, music, poetry, and play therapy in her clinical practice.
As a lecturer, she noticed that many of the students she came to know also had an interest in the arts.
"We have social work students who are yoga teachers, photographers, filmmakers, writers, actors, visual artists, and dancers," says Corrado. "They have an affinity for the arts but wanted additional guidance about how to integrate the arts into their social work practice."
Social Work, Trauma, and the Arts, offered for the first time this summer and being offered again this semester, was created to help meet that need.
Among the students who took the course this summer was Adam Ouanes.
“I have a background as an actor and have been looking for ways I can incorporate my acting training into a therapeutic practice with clients,” says Ouanes. “I was able to build a strong case for creating a unique intervention using text from Shakespeare. Prior to this class, if I suggested this idea I think people would have been totally flummoxed...but because of what I learned in Meagan’s class I am able to build a case for using pieces of text to aid clients in expressing emotions they struggle to articulate.”
But the course is not just for artists.
“I initially signed up for the course because Meagan is a great teacher and I knew that I would enjoy whatever she taught,” says Liz Tankel. “I do not consider myself to be creative or artistic. Yet this course unlocked—perhaps even unleashed—a creative energy in me that I did not expect. I designed an arts-based intervention that I plan to use in my practicum next year. I also learned about brilliant interventions designed by my classmates.”
For social workers unable to take the class, Corrado and her students have decided to share the ideas they developed more broadly through an anthology of of arts-based ways to support trauma survivors in social work settings.
"The arts are an invaluable tool for social workers seeking to provide strengths-based support to trauma survivors," writes Corrado in the anthology introduction. "Creativity provides multiple benefits. Creativity humanizes trauma survivors. It helps them understand who they are and where they want to go. It gives them freedom in places where they feel constrained and oppressed. It gives them a voice in spaces where they feel silenced and marginalized. Creativity—the arts—speak for trauma survivors when they don’t have the language to describe their experiences."
Bryn Mawr's Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research prepares students to become effective social work practitioners, advocates for social and economic justice, and leaders in the social work profession. Students learn about work with individuals, families and groups, as well as social work with organizations and communities. Students learn a holistic approach to social work practice with an emphasis on the importance of diversity and inclusion. GSSWSR's accredited program awards a Master of Social Service (M.S.S.) degree, which is equivalent to an M.S.W.