Art and Movement Therapy with Christina E. Fontenelle

Christina E. Fontenelle discusses art & dance/movement therapy, her workshops and race.

Art and Movement Therapy with Christina E. Fontenelle

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Christina E. Fontenelle is a Holistic Health Coach, author of Aligning Your Inner Self Meditation Journal, and CEO & Founder of two mental health companies - 'Fontenelle Art' & 'Aligning Your Inner Self'.ย  Her work centralises around unconventional therapy and aims to address mental health difficulties through Art & Dance/Movement Therapy. I've taken from part 1 of the Podcast, so have a read and check out the grippingly engaging conversation here (linked?)

Christina speaks of the birth of her company, 'Fontenelle Art', as one that derived from a place of oppression. The inclusive and creative 'Fontenelle Art'ย  began in November 2019 and her selfless journey of spreading awareness and wellbeing began. 'Fontenelle Art' provides ๐€๐ซ๐ญ & ๐Œ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญโ€“๐›๐š๐ฌ๐ž๐ย  methods and strategies for professional development, mental health awareness, and community cohesion. Words are not always accessible in the same way as embodying creativity through art and movement. Some have coined movement therapy unconventional. However, day-to-day many of us are not in tune with our internal physicality and have created external dissonance from the art and beauty that encompasses all of us.ย 

"Prior to the pandemic there is a lot of data showing that shows that we were struggling with mental health".

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Christina mentions, "prior to the pandemic there is a lot of data showing that shows that we were struggling with mental health". She speaks about stigma and shame when seeking help for these issues. Despite the pandemic causing an influx of poor mental health, it also highlighted conversations that we all needed to be having. This is a recurring theme cross-sectors and culturally. Many individuals still do not feel comfortable seeking help for their mental health, especially in a work environment, yet the common cold seems more viable for time off. Therefore, this infers that we have not "destigmatised mental health". You cannot destigmatise mental health without looking at mental health from a new perspective. Furthermore, this supports the notion of new creative perspectives toward treatment and therapy - art and movement.ย 

Christina describes the construction of her workshops. One of them, the social advocacy workshops: which acknowledges society, community, BLM, politics etc. There is not a lot of this representation in working industries, perhaps due to fear or sensitivities. Acknowledgement is fundamental for conversation and healthy wellbeingย  - it is so important to be having these conversations, and not accede to disassociation of important topics, as everyone has been affected (this is valid and therefore should be voiced).ย 

Sadly, Christina speaks about the abuse she has been exposed to as a therapist. This preempts another shocking telling of events. Christina shares a disheartening time where she was subject to unjust sanctions, trauma and racism during her work training. She prefaces this story by saying she was offered employment from the institution where she formerly graduatedย  - This was another one of her dreams. Sadly, this is also prefaced as the biggest discrimination Christina has ever experienced too. She was physically tokenised and showboated to departments for her diversity, approach and more. As tokenism is a form of microaggression, it is hard to find anything micro about this situation. Representing race, culture, or expertise is an enormous responsibility and shouldn't be trivialised. Tokenism acts to under-appreciate the work or the person - not what they embody and represent.ย ย 

Later in the discussion, a generational gap is referenced in potentially determining why in 2021 this is still happening. There seems to be great dissonance between fast-paced, cultured and tech-friendly youth who have this information at hand. And, older generations and others who either do not know how to attain or be able to conceive the social changes in western cultures -ย  an ill-judged joke or subtle racial stereotyping cannot be excused as old-school and outdated eurocentrism.ย 

"We are seeing a narrative where black women are told to "straighten" (whiten) their hair, to be "presentable..."

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Another conversation speaks on a time when Christina's hair was grabbed without consent. She says, "am I being pet by a stranger?". Christina now feels equipped to manage this. This topic continues to engage and promote awareness, yet many are still not getting the memo. Don't touch people without consent. Black, brown and mixed hair is an art form, sometimes protective and always a form of creative and cultural self-expression. Hair is not only a fashion statement... it can be political too. Appropriated beauty standards perpetuate eurocentric ideals that often use and profit from people of colour. Again, we are seeing a narrative where black women are told to "straighten" (whiten) their hair, to be "presentable" and that it is a "commodity" and "unprofessional" to have the hair that grows naturally out of their scalp. And when western beauty ideals want to use their natural beauty, they become disposable objects; to touch, pet, manage, recreate and profit from. Christina says, "I know it's your curiosity that caused it, however, I'm doing this nicely. If you do this to someone else, who is a person of colour, you probably will not have the same response".ย 

Christina's work speaks volumes for herself. To experience and achieve so much in such a short amount of time takes perseverance - I'm sure her trajectory is sky-high! Arts and Movement based therapies have infinite benefits and you have the power to harness that!

Jack Groves