IPM Partner: Krista Harrison, MFT


Krista Harrison, LMFT, is a licensed psychotherapist, expressive arts facilitator and transformational coach. She is the Clinical Services Director at Brain Injury Network of the Bay Area and Founder of The Rediscovery Project, a poetry and expressive arts program for people living with acquired brain injury.

She was a regular contributor and advice columnist for Bitchbuzz.com, and her flash fiction appears in The Molotov Cocktail. Krista’s current writing focuses on the transformative, initiatory experience of pregnancy and becoming a mother.

Krista's passion is holding space for people as they reclaim their power, find meaning in their circumstances and take purposeful action to live an aligned life.

Rediscovery Project - The Hero's Journey

I have not only grown 'mentally' by using my brain due to writing poems, but I have grown as a person again.

—Scott Parkhurst. Rediscovery Project Participant

 

 

 

  • The Rediscovery Project — The Hero's Journey

     A 10-week poetry and expressive arts group for survivors of acquired brain injury that loosely follows the archetypal “Hero’s Journey” as explained by mythologist Joseph Campbell. It includes a portrait day with a professional photographer and will culminate with a public poetry reading and printed anthology.  The Rediscovery Project has received funds from IPM for the autumn of 2012 and 2013.

    Participants

    Members, most of whom have experienced traumatic brain injury or stroke.

    The workshop took place at Pathways Learning Center, part of Laurel Hill Center, which is a non-profit organization "committed to helping people with psychiatric disabilities make choices and acquire skills that increase their self-reliance and ability to live and work in the community." (From the Laurel Hill Center vision and mission statement.  More about the Laurel Hill Center

    Purpose and Goals

    and serves adults with traumatic brain injury (TBI).  The deep purpose is to offer participants a container for expression that will empower each voice provide a context that allows a greater meaning to emerge and be discovered demonstrate through the sharing the beauty of community, and raise awareness in the greater community about TBI/ABI.

    Project Description

    The Rediscovery Project, a poetry and expressive arts journey for people navigating life after acquired brain injury (ABI).

    Honoring the artful life of ABI survivor and painter Shelley Fox, the Rediscovery Project is an arts-based opportunity for people living in the aftermath of brain injury to uncover and rediscover their experience of self, voice and community. Our curriculum follows the archetypal “hero’s journey” (as coined by Joseph Campbell) and strives to illuminate the transformative potential of crisis and catastrophe.

    Components

    • 10-week poetry and expressive arts group
    • printed anthology of participants’ writing and art
    • public poetry reading
    • guidebook geared for people interested in creating their own ABI poetry circles
    • mentoring sessions for Rediscovery Project participants interested in keeping their poetry circle in motion
    • a blog
  • Follow-up Report

    Poetry Reading at Book Passage by Participants in the Rediscovery Project — The Hero’s Journey

    The program went very well. I think we had somewhere around 70-75 people attend including the participants. A number of family members, friends, BINBA staff/volunteers, BI survivors, etc. Supervisor Kate Sears' assistant attended on her behalf and shared how impressed she was by the program.

    Toby Symington (John's contact) made it a point to introduce himself. Toby was moved by the rawness of the participants' work. Giselle's family also commented on how touched they were by the event. Giselle’s daughter actually approached us about how she could become more involved with BINBA as a volunteer.   That such a desire for active support from a family member was evoked moved us as staff

    As for the program itself, the president of our Board opened the event. I followed with John's poem When Someone Deeply Listens to You.  I offered it as a reflection for the audience: that they were giving the gift of being present for the writers. I spoke a few words about the project. Midge spoke about the benefits of creativity on the chemistry of the brain. I invited Marianna Cacciatore to speak.  Marianna is the Executive Director of Bread for the Journey a 2013 co-funder of the project.  Then I offered acknowledgments and read John's letter.  John was unable to attend because of a teaching engagement. The audience seemed particularly responsive to his last paragraph about Shelley.  John wrote:

    “On a personal note, The Institute for Poetic Medicine dedicates this project to honor my sister, Shelley Fox.  Shelley lived for over 37 years with a traumatic brain injury. She loved painting and along with a brilliantly incisive mind, she possessed a thoughtful sweetness.  Shelley died in 2011 and the age of 58.

    I feel assured that she would celebrate with us today and be pleased with this project.  I want to thank all the participating poets for making this journey.”

    Each participant did an excellent job in sharing their story as part of their introduction. I was impressed by how authentic and composed they all were. Many people commented that the stories they shared about themselves (prior to reading their poetry) were powerful.  People said that hearing those stories helped them connect with the writers' poetry more fully.

    Jeff's wife did an impromptu share about the day Jeff suffered his stroke and the days that followed. It was deeply emotional for everyone.  The air was full of human feeling.  Jeff stood next to his wife and lovingly placed his hand on her back.  This is the first time I had witnessed them as a couple.  She is his caregiver, and that's how we've come to interact with her and because of this, I can forget that they are husband and wife.

    There were tears, but also a lot of laughter. The audience was very supportive, warm, engaged. They were moved by the poetry...lots of "hmmms" and head nodding.

    What I have shared here is the lovely and powerful greater community outcome of the ten week program where each of our participants went on a very unique, sometimes profoundly challenging and significant journey.

  • Participants Response

    This workshop and these people have opened up a creative avenue of much needed respite and communal healing through the fluidity of poetry."

    —Kelly K., Rediscovery Project Participant

    This workshop and these people have opened up a creative avenue of much needed respite and communal healing through the fluidity of poetry.

    —Kelly K.

    First of all, and I feel most important, I find this class quite enjoyable. Also, I have found this class helpful in that I have discovered a new way to express bad feelings that were previously bottled up. Finally, it makes me feel better to know that I am not alone in this journey of trying to deal with the many difficulties of coping with living life with a brain injury.

    —Glen Bullock

    I have made a lot of personal recovery and better, was a feeling of acceptance and understanding that has been a great gift to me. I have benefited from the fellowship that this group has created. I feel very thankful for this opportunity and look forward to its continuance. Thank you.

    —Blake Herod

    “First of all, I must start off by saying a very big THANK YOU! There are no other words to describe what this ART & POEM class has done for me and I know the others would agree. I have not only grown “mentally” by using my brain due to writing poems, but I have grown as a person again. And what I mean by that is that I just used to stay home and not really wanting to go out. Then one day my brain injury group leader saw some of my artwork and told me about this ‘class’ coming up. When she said it involved ‘POEM’ writing as well, well I almost said no, then I thought about how I used to write ‘em when I was younger and how I enjoyed doing it. I knew this would be good for my brain…Well, guess what? It has not only helped my brain, BUT it has me get out of my shell. The instructors here are GREAT and very understanding and they ‘get it’ as far as how to ‘deal’ with a brain injured person.”

    —Scott Timothy Parkhurst

    When I was here, I made friends.

    —24 yo TBI survivor

     

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