Treasure wants to use dramatic therapy to change people’s lives
Treasure Tannock loved Bootsie’s popular song, Bermudians Love to Drink.
It wasn’t until she got older that she gave any real thought to the deeper implications of its lyrics.
“As a young kid you are dancing to it but as you grow up, you realise how deeply substances are embedded in our culture,” the 22-year-old said.
She had people close to her who battled substance addiction. As a teenager, it was normal to see drugs and alcohol being abused at concerts, at Cup Match and at parties.
Said Ms Tannock: “That is not the type of atmosphere we want to surround our young Bermudians in.
“My goal is to start a clinical practice that addresses individual's mental health. I want to have clinicians, psychotherapists and psychiatrists, but I also want to blend in that creative approach with art, music and drama therapists. I see this as being a place where people can come and gain mental health, and mental health resources.”
She took a step along that path last month when she was awarded The Duperreault Fellowship. The $50,000 annual award was established in 2004 through donations by insurance industry veteran Brian Duperreault and his wife, Nancy, and the Ace Foundation. It provides funding for education and training opportunities for people working in the substance abuse treatment arena.
“Receiving the fellowship was as helpful as it was to be born,” Ms Tannock said. “It is tremendously financially helpful.
“It is not just a scholarship, it is also a fellowship. I have literally had to identify, outline and align myself with the same values that the fellowship has. Within that alignment, it has been helpful for me to specify my goals and where I want to go.”
In September, she starts a master’s in drama therapy at NYU Steinhardt.
Until she graduated last year, Ms Tannock had no idea she wanted to go into substance abuse treatment.
Her plan was to pursue her master’s and then doctorate degrees after she finished her bachelor’s in psychology and theatre at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Eventually, she figured, she would come back to Bermuda to work with children at a counselling practice.
“I was actually on a cruise ship in the Bahamas when Covid-19 started to hit,” she said. “It was spring break. I was with my friends. I had never been to the Bahamas. I was just having the best last spring break I could possibly have.”
Then she got a call from her father, Raymond Tannock. Covid-19 was developing into a pandemic and he wanted her off the cruise ship.
She tried to argue, but her father was insistent: come straight back to Bermuda.
“That was February, and I did not get my things from Spelman until August,” she said. “And only half of my things came. To this day I do not know where the other half of my things are.”
Ms Tannock finished her degree and found a post as an intern at Solstice, working with people with anxiety issues.
Looking for an added challenge, she signed up as a volunteer at the Bermuda Fire Service.
“It is physically demanding,” she said. “You would never in a million years expect that you would be able to run into a burning room and save a 200lb dummy.”
Many of the scenarios in her training revolved around substance abuse, such as a car accident due to drunk driving.
“It was working through the different scenarios that were brought to us as fire fighters that I started to understand the extent to which we have access to different drugs on the island, alcohol being one of them,” she said.
“My work at Solstice showed me the mental damage that addiction causes. It became this holistic understanding of the role that substances play in our culture.”
It was then she started looking into how drama therapy could help in the addiction treatment field and decided it was “definitely something I want to go into”.
An emerging field, drama therapy uses dramatic processes such as storytelling, role playing and improvisation to help clients through their problems.
Ms Tannock was introduced to the techniques during the semester she spent in Copenhagen, Denmark as part of a study abroad programme.
“I studied children in a multicultural context,” she said. “I also studied the philosophy of love, as a personal passion.
“I worked with the Red Cross, specifically at an asylum for Iranian and Afghani asylum seekers from the age of 14 and up.”
Many of her clients had autism; some were schizophrenic, other suffered from foetal alcohol syndrome.
“When you put all of these elements with the post traumatic stress disorder – anxiety and depression, having to flee your home and often being orphaned from a home country – that is when we start to see identity issues,” she said.
As none of them spoke English, she relied on drama therapy to communicate.
“That was my first introduction to it,” said Ms Tannock, who leaves in August for New York where she hopes to continue working as a volunteer firefighter. “I was very much thrown in. For the first probably month, it was just games of charades until I could build up some of the skill set.”
For more information about The Duperreault Fellowship visit www.duperreaultfellowship.org