U of A Professor Kristi Perryman Wins Research Award at Creativity in Counseling Conference

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Kristi Perryman, an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas, recently received a research award at the Association for Creativity in Counseling Conference for her work in trauma therapy.

Paul Blisard, clinical faculty at the U of A, as well as Rochelle Moss, a colleague from Henderson State University, co-authored the article.

The three — along with adjunct professor Cameron Houin, student Brittany Massengale and recent graduate Kendra Shoge — attended the national conference. The U of A  counselor education program offers a master's degree in counseling and a doctorate in counselor education.

The ACC Research Award recognizes an influential research project about creative, diverse, and relational approaches to counseling. The article, "Using Creative Arts in Trauma Therapy: The Neuroscience of Healing," was originally published in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling.

"Dr. Kristi Perryman served as my mentor during my doctoral studies and continues to model for me how to be an innovative researcher and counselor educator," Houin said. "She teaches the power of creative arts therapy in trauma work and how to utilize current neuroscience research, which has enabled myself and others to enhance our work as a clinicians.

"She is not only helping further our field but positively impacts our students' growth and development daily. I can think of no better recipient for this award."

Perryman's article notes that creative arts strategies are beneficial when working with clients who have unresolved trauma and offers various types of techniques depending on the type of trauma experienced. The advances in neuroscience and neurocounseling are helping mental health clinicians develop more specific and effective methods, as researchers understand more accurately how trauma affects the brain. Having a basic understanding of the physiology of the brain is helpful for counselors so they can apply the best strategies to promote healing.

Researchers say creative arts offer a unique benefit in promoting communication between the right hemisphere, where images and negative unconscious emotions are stored, and the left hemisphere, which houses logic and language.

The article notes that relaxation, along with creative arts strategies and body movement, offers a safe way for the trauma to be recalled and reconsolidated into a less fearful memory. Research indicates that traumatic events most frequently experienced by women are childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault. For men, the trauma is more likely associated with experiencing combat disaster, physical assault, an accident or witnessing an injury or death.

"We hope to continue working with other innovative clinicians, educators and leaders to study the neurological and emotional impact of using creative strategies with those who have experienced trauma," Perryman said.

Perryman and Blisard also presented on the topic of "Ethical Considerations for the use of Creative Techniques in Counseling and Supervision" at the conference.


Shannon G. Magsam, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-3138, magsam@uark.edu


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