Dr. Bertha Tavarez, Clinical Director of Clementine, Oliver-Pyatt Centers residential treatment program exclusively for adolescent girls speaks to the benefits of experiential therapy techniques to be utilized within a therapeutic relationship as well as among professional colleagues.
I was recently invited to present at the 10th annual Latin American Eating Disorder Conference in Monterrey, Mexico. I was encouraged to present a clinical topic that was “different”, “new” and “cutting edge.” I decided to create a presentation on experiential therapy techniques and how to incorporate them into eating disorder treatment. Soon, my creative wheels were turning, and I planned on several therapeutic demonstrations, work samples, and props that may facilitate warm up therapy exercises.
I combed through a labyrinth of Walmart aisles looking for the perfect prop that I could use as an ice breaker. The prop needed to be accessible enough to quickly flow through a large audience with the power to break the monotony of hours of lecturing. Did I mention my presentation was at the end of the day? In a moment of inspiration I saw it! Among a myriad of seasonal toys I spotted a bright yellow beach ball with a large smiley face stitched on. The plan was to throw the ball at a person in the audience, asking them to state their name and one word that best represented their inner self before passing it to another person, and another, and so on.
The next morning, I boarded an airplane with my bright yellow beach ball safely stowed. After the beach ball was scanned for explosives residue (true story!) I was on my way to the conference, softly whispering talking points to myself as I took in the sights of the bustling city of Monterrey. I arrived in time to sit in on a presentation on the epigenetics of eating disorders. As I marveled at the research studies being presented, I stared down at the bag containing my ball, and became flooded with thoughts about how my bright yellow beach ball paled in comparison to talks of ventricular enlargement.
After a welcoming introduction, I approached the podium with a mixture of trepidation and resolve. I stated that no presentation on experiential therapies can be devoid of experience and action, and with a brief explanation, and a flick of the wrist, I tossed the bright yellow beach ball into a sea of audience members. Soon, the room lit up with a choir of voices. “Ana, Intelligent!”, “Carmen, Loving!”, “Sandra, Patient!” For days these people were introducing themselves by their titles and affiliations, but for one moment they connected on a universal human level with the help of one unsuspecting prop.
For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and our newly introduced Embrace, a binge eating recovery program and Clementine,a residential program exclusively for adolescents girls please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), subscribe to our blog, visit our website, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.