Regarding Dr. Harris' CAT & EMDR Protocols

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I want to thank Dr. Harris for the protocol suggestions she has created for Celtic Art Therapy. It’s wonderful of her to take the time to support this tool and my work.

She would like to see a new Celtic Art Therapy design specifically created for EMDR. I will work with her on this project in the coming months, and try to have a new design ready by June.

I hope all interested clinicians participate in this discussion. I will too, and I’m happy to answer any questions regarding the use of Celtic Art Therapy.

Thanks to Dr. Harris and to everyone who joins in on this topic.


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From Heather Wagner to Shoni Burg RE: Celtic Art Therapy

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Hello Shoni,
My name is Heather Wagner and I am a special education teacher for students with severe needs. I’m sorry for the late reply; I’m not as diligent on checking my regular e-mail as I am my work e-mail. I teach students who are nonverbal/limited verbal, limited motor skills, and low cognitive levels (mild to severe). My students’ disabilities vary; I have a caseload of 9 students with 7 different disability labels in which 2 of my students are on the Autism spectrum. I’ve used the Celtic Art Therapy (CAT) in my classroom 4 days a week for the last 6 months. I have also taught students with a more common learning disability using CAT plates with them as well.
The plates I purchased from Anne are a combination of the regular plates and also laminated ones (so they can be written/drawn on) in each style of design (open, medium & tight). Except for one, my students are not able to hold a stylus due to lack of fine motor skills so I modified the plates with using a dry erase marker. Although challenging, my students struggle with using their non-dominant hands so they receive assistance from an adult; my students with no fine motor skills trace hand-over-hand or they watch an adult as they trace the plate. This also served as an occupational therapy goal; the students wipe their plates clean of the marker when finished. With this, they serve as a speech goal as students tracing the plates demonstrate more verbal expression that requires a response.
In my observation, the CAT plates are most beneficial when a student is in need of a mental break or right before doing academic work, especially if the topic is challenging. Since children are unaware of the body’s natural need to decompress, the CAT plates give this opportunity for the brain to become more relaxed. My students didn’t respond well to the CAT plates when first introduced (I feel this was due to the foreign feeling of relaxation they omitted). After a routine was established, my students became more accepting of the task and on most days looked forward to “Plate Time” (as I call it). I observed the open designs are mainly preferred although each child experiments (occasionally) with the tight and medium designs. For my students with Autism, I’ve noticed the medium and tight designs are preferred over the open designs although the open designs are requested but less frequently. Lastly, I’ve noticed that my staff enjoy the CAT plates for personal fulfillment or to de-escalate from dealing with a challenging situation. Furthermore, I’ve noticed when a staff member participates with using the CAT plates simultaneously with a child(ren), the child(ren) display more interest as the CAT plates are being modeled. For an escalated child, I’ve noticed the modeling aids in the child’s redirection of using the CAT plates when they struggle to take interest in using the CAT plates for self de-escalation.
To conclude, I highly recommend the CAT plates with any child, especially low functioning children. I’ve found the CAT plates to be beneficial for positive mental growth as well as mental relaxation. In addition to the mental benefits, I’ve observed the CAT plates to assist children with fine motor growth and also verbal expression/speech growth. I’m hopeful you found my reply to be helpful in your decision in using CAT plates with your program. If you have any other questions, please feel free to reply to my e-mail.
Heather Wagner
Severe Needs Teacher – Colorado
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Celtic Art Therapy and Associated Conditioning

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This February I showed Celtic Art Therapy at the Serene Connections Evolution of Addiction Treatment conference in Los Angeles. As is often the case, Celtic Art Therapy was very well received, and three treatment facilities made bulk purchases for their group therapy sessions.

It was at this conference that I started focusing on using Celtic Art Therapy as a conditioning focus for associated behavioral modification. I’ve suggested this technique for schools with stress test takers, but I began to encourage the therapists to have their patients trace the CAT plates while working them through addiction management techniques. Then, when a patient experiences the triggers that lead to the addictive behavior, they could stop and visually picture the Celtic Art Therapy designs. Hopefully the associated addiction management techniques will come to mind and allow the patient to change their behavior.

I believe that this use for Celtic Art Therapy can be effective with a number of conditions, including anxiety, anger and PTSD management.  Please blog your thoughts.

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Celtic Art Therapy and Speech Pathology

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At a little event in La Verne, CA, I met Cynthia Brownell, MA, CCC-SLP
DHH Communication Skills
James Madison High School
San Diego City Schools

She took three of my Celtic Art Therapy designs home, and here is her first email to me regarding CAT and speech pathology.

Hi…I met you on Saturday at Medieval Marketplace. I used the Blue Celtic Curls today with a hearing impaired Freshman with Autism. She’s oral, and at first her speech was very choppy. Despite speaking about a topic that wasn’t of her choosing, she became more fluent as she traced the pattern. She improved even more as she traced with her off hand. It was pretty cool!

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Dr. Kaye Ragland

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In addition to the success I have had using tracing with educational therapy with children with special needs, I have had good success using it with senior citizens with anxiety/stress. When they begin to get stuck in a pattern of worrying too much, I have them trace a Celtic Arts Therapy plate. So far, I  have had good reports that it is helping in those moments of high anxiety.

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Celtic Art Therapy & PTSD

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I discovered some time ago that Celtic Art Therapy was an effective tool to use with anxiety, especially when introducing creative visualizations into the process. For example, having a subject trace a Celtic Art Therapy design, such as the Blue Trinity Knot, allows the subject to isolate visual and tactile stimuli resulting in an easy absorption of mental visuals. One of my favorites is, “Imagine a world of waterfalls all around. Stress comes at you, but is caught in the water where it is blurred, obscured and washed downstream.”

However, showing Celtic Art Therapy at the Colorado Renaissance Festival allowed me to work with some veterans and other men suffering from PTSD. I was pleased to discover the ease with which a man, especially a military man, used Celtic Art Therapy. I soon noticed that it was a non-threatening way for a highly trained individual to slip into a slightly altered state without any “know-it-all Shrink giving him a lot of psycho-babble junk on how he’s supposed to feel”.

Men simply traced. The Celtic Wolf and Celtic Cross designs were particularly useful because they have a ‘masculine’ feel. Also surprising was the ease with which these men absorbed creative visualization. With vets, I used, “Imagine a room of shadow boxes. Take the memory that is plaguing you and place it in a box. You can still see it, it’s still there. You haven’t suppressed it, but it can’t mess with you – not while you’re tracing. It doesn’t own you any longer. It’s your brain. Take it back.”

I also interjected some expletives to bolster self-confidence, but I won’t use colorful language in this blog.

The result in a few moment’s time was men who noticeably reacted to Celtic Art Therapy in conjunction with creative visualization. I saw their bodies relax, and when loud noises called them away from the experience, the longer they traced the easier it was for them to return to tracing after identifying the source of the noise.

I believe that Celtic Art Therapy has a definite place in the tools available to clinical professionals who work with wounded warriors and others suffering from PTSD. It facilitates an easy transition into a lightly-altered state where a therapist can guide a patient into a session using a variety of audio stimuli, especially creative visualization.

I intend to design some ‘military themed’ Celtic Art Therapy pieces including an American Eagle surrounded by Celtic knots and a Liberty Torch composed of Celtic knots. I look forward to making my work available to psychiatrists and psychologists associated with the Veteran’s Administration and to therapists who work with mental trauma and suppressed memories.

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