Over years as a touring songwriter, I noticed that songs about domestic violence or depression made these stigmatized issues "talk-about-able." All over the world, listeners stayed after shows to share with me their own experiences with these issues, often telling their stories for the first time.
What was it about those shows—about art, about music, sound, the social setting—that allowed these individuals to tell me what they’d never told their doctors? their spouse? How had their health been affected by their inability to share their stories in conventional ways, or in conventional (clinical) settings?
These questions developed into my current work as a scholar, practitioner, and artist. I research the impacts of stigma, norms, and discourses on health and well-being… And I develop methods and practices that better respond to humans’ needs for safety, creativity, culture, and art when sharing difficult experiences.
This is trauma-responsiveness, cultural-responsiveness, innovation, and whole-person thinking. It is taking a biopsychosocial, social-ecological approach.
It is recognizing that we can’t heal what we can’t talk about—and that the concept of “talk” must be broadly understood.
As a public health researcher, my expertise lies in mixed methods work, interdisciplinarity, and out-of-the-box thinking. I love the intersections of STEM and the humanities, creativity and health, data and design, science and story. They’re critical for effective health research and practice. In particular, paying attention to art, aesthetics, trauma, and culture allows us to identify experiences and perceptions that conventional approaches miss. It also helps us sustain the difficult conversations that lead to improved community resources, more equitable policies, and ultimately better health.
What I do:
Generally related to the above concepts, I consult with organizations and initiatives to develop creative, research-based strategies that further their goals. This has included project development, tech development, research, evaluation, trainings, advisory roles, translational research, acting as hub for cross-sector partnerships, curriculum development, writing for publication, etc.
I also conduct presentations and trainings on trauma-informed practices, the role of arts/aesthetics in health research and practice, how-to’s when combining arts with research, applications of the arts to broad health/equity goals…etc. If you're curious, get in touch!
Finally, in addition to workshops for incarcerated youth, I facilitate writing workshops for all skill and interest levels, and for a host of purposes: team building, creative brainstorming, personal growth, storytelling, enhancing a deliverable, etc. (I recently had a room full of attorneys writing short poems. It was fabulous.) My specialty is accessibility, and combining writing with specific (and even seemingly unrelated!) goals.
If you're planning an event, project, course, or conference and you want to talk possibilities, reach out here.