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Diverse Thinking Different Learning

May 11, 2021

If you enjoy art and music and you recognize the benefit of psychotherapy for children and adolescents, this episode is for you. We know that creative expression is beneficial, but what happens when we combine it with psychotherapy? Creative expression can be a preventative measure, but can be a part of mental health treatment as well. Remember that it all begins with awareness, and today’s guest is here to demonstrate how art and music continue to impact the lives of children and adolescents in her practice and give her goosebumps along the way.


Today’s guest is Dr. Brette Genzel-Derman, founder and CEO of Innovative Group Psychotherapy. She is passionate about empowering youth to heal through creative expression and in today’s episode she shares her personal and professional experiences that have influenced her career and how she approaches the work she does with kids.


Show Notes:

[2:02] - Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Genzel-Derman has seen an increase of anxiety and sadness in youth. A lot of the work she does is in a group and she discovered how important that group piece was.

[3:40] - A couple of positives that have come out of the pandemic is the use of technology. Some adolescents felt a lot more comfortable communicating in a chat box.

[4:50] - Technology has allowed us all to be more resilient during this difficult time.

[5:22] - Dr. Genzel-Derman does a lot of creative expression in psychotherapy group sessions and she explains the incredible resilience that came through.

[6:50] - Brette’s background began in foster care social work and she takes a moment to share the four people who have had the biggest impact on her career path and passions.

[8:01] - Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is a neuroscientist who has helped shape Dr. Genzel-Derman’s approach to helping the youth in her practice. She describes his research and why it was so impactful.

[8:44] - It is crucial to integrate traditional talk therapy with other forms of therapy to target all parts of the brain.

[9:31] - Another influence for Brette is  Brené Brown who is an author and well known speaker. In her work with kids, Brette found inspiration and guidance in the area of social connection in Brown’s work.

[10:35] - Dr. Genzel-Derman explains how she lays the foundation for kids to recognize that other people have shame and anxiety and make the connections with others through group work in a safe space.

[12:17] - It takes time to develop trust and relationships. Once trust is established, the real work can begin.

[13:17] - Brette uses the interests of children and youth in her practice as their mental health treatment.

[14:56] - Another influence for Brette comes as a surprise. She shares the meaningful story of being impacted by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters.

[16:12] - Dr. Genzel-Derman describes the idea she had and how she was able to connect with Dave Grohl. He loved her idea so much that he became a mentor in the program that she developed.

[17:25] - When Brette watched the children and teens working with a mentor, something shifted. When you put a mentor in the room who knows what they are doing, it is scaffolding the process.

[18:10] - Through this song-writing mentorship, students were developing trust, relationships, enthusiasm, confidence, and empowerment through their creativity.

[19:08] - A lot of the time, there is such a focus on the deficits of a child. Karen strongly believes that treatment needs to be strength-based.

[20:05] - Dr. Genzel-Derman shares the story of an adolescent she was working with who was suicidal after experiencing trauma through the death of his mother.

[21:24] - In the song-writing therapy that Brette worked on with this teen, he realized how much control he had and it gave her goosebumps.

[22:38] - With his mentor, he wrote a rap song about his depression and performed it in front of his peers. This experience empowered him and gave him something to help manage his depression.

[24:13] - Brette’s father was also a huge influence for her. She shares the story about how she decided to write a children’s book with him during the work she was doing on her dissertation on grief and loss. 

[26:21] - Through his artwork and her writing, Brette and her father were communicating and were able to say goodbye to each other through the process she describes.

[27:04] - Although she was in pain and experiencing grief, she had the direction and purpose to work on something meaningful together with her father.

[28:29] - There is a lot of research on the benefits of combining art and therapy in prevention and treatment in mental health.

[29:19] - Find something that fits you and your child. There are so many integrations that can be made in therapy.

[30:34] - One of the things that Dr. Genzel-Derman loves to do in group sessions is drumming. She explains how in just 4 minutes, there’s a connection in the group.

[32:00] - Dr. Genzel-Derman explains an activity she does called “Musical Scribble.”

[33:26] - The work at IGP that Dr. Genzel-Derman does is very broad and she takes a moment to describe a lot of the types of children she sees.

[34:31] - There are a lot of things that can open up when children are connecting and learning from each other. A group in IGP consists of a lot of different types of kids with different needs.

About Our Guest:

Dr. Brette Genzel-Derman is passionate about empowering youth to heal through creative expression. She is the Founder/CEO of Innovative Group Psychotherapy (IGP), a unique treatment approach that combines therapy, the arts and mentorship by professional musicians and artists. IGP’s Acoustic Youth therapy group was featured on NBC’s Today Show. Dr. Genzel-Derman has a successful private practice and is the Therapeutic Creative Arts Developer at a non-profit mental health agency, Child and Family Guidance Center. For more than two decades, Dr. Genzel-Derman has conducted psychological assessments and provided individual, family and group treatment. She has extensive experience working with complex trauma and uses a trauma-informed approach with her clients. 


Connect with Dr. Brette Genzel-Derman:

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