Art Therapy Perspectives 

An Interview Series with Sara Roizen, MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT: Part-Two

Sara Roizen (ATR-BC, LCAT) is an artist and licensed board-certified art therapist, currently living and working in New York City. She received a BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Masters in Art Therapy and Creativity Development from Pratt Institute. Most recently, Sara has focused her art therapy work with adults living with HIV/AIDS, substance use, mental health issues, and homelessness.

Sara Roizen and I were introduced through the Linkedin Group of Art Therapy Alliance. I really enjoyed reading about her journey as an art therapist in this interview series. She has faced and overcome some challenges that are common with new art therapists, and we can all learn something from her unique perspective. Sara also shares about her role as an art therapy consultant and about art therapists who have influenced her work and career. If you enjoy reading this interview as much as I did than check back later in the week for more from Sara.

For more of this interview, check our Part-One Here

What struggles or challenges have you had to overcome in your career?
One of the biggest challenges for me was piecing together the post-graduate work that was necessary to receive my NY state art therapy license (LCAT) and my art therapy board certification (ATR-BC). These credentials are very important to obtain because they help to regulate the practice of art therapy and also hold professional art therapists to a high standard. However, many new art therapists in the field are caught in a double bind. Most organizations will only hire (or heavily prefer) licensed art therapists, but to obtain the required supervised hours, an art therapist must first be hired and supervised by a credentialed art therapist. This seems to be a common challenge for most new art therapists that I’ve talked to. I was able to piece together my post-graduate hours at a few different organizations where I could also receive the proper supervision, but it took me about two years to complete the hours. I’m not sure what the solution to this scenario is, but I can say that I utilized a lot of creative problem solving in the process.

What keeps you going as an art therapist? And/or Where do you find
I find my daily experiences with art therapy clients during groups and individual sessions to be truly inspirational. It is an honor for me to act as witness and gentle guide as my clients create, process, and share their art and feelings. This work is never dull or predictable and it keeps me on my toes.

I am inspired by the incredible art therapy work that my friends and colleagues do, and our ongoing relationships are nurturing on many levels. It can be challenging to stay connected to others in our field when we are often the only art therapists on site, so I also find it important to attend art therapy workshops, lectures, and other events where I have the opportunity to connect and network. Technology provides us with yet another forum for creative exchange and there are many online communities that connect art therapists from all over the world. My personal art making practice is also a core component of my continued work as an art therapist.

Do you have any special self-care techniques?
One of my most important self-care techniques it to maintain my personal art making practice. This has been my natural form of self-care since I was a child. I also find mindfulness meditation practices, journaling, listening to music, going for a walk, exercising, and cuddling with my cats to be wonderful methods of self-care. Being in nature is another core aspect of my self-care, and so my husband and I do our best to get out of the city and into nature whenever possible. I’ve found that nothing helps center me quite as much as the ocean energy.

How do you keep up with your own art making?
Since my own art making has always been a priority, I have continuously found ways to make space and time for my art. I never put the pressure on myself to create art every day, because I have found that my art making cycles fluctuate.  I’ve learned to trust that when an image or feeling needs to be expressed visually it will find a way out.

There are times when I create every day, but also times when I might go a few weeks or longer without making any art. For me, the key is to ‘follow my bliss’ as the saying goes and work on whatever grabs me at the moment. It also helps to take a broader view on art making and creativity in the sense that I find countless ways to be artistic in daily life. It might be as simple as snapping a picture on my walk to the train. All of the little acts of creativity really do add up and enrich each day.

How do you balance your identify of both artist and art therapist?
My biggest fear when I decided to pursue art therapy was that my personal artwork would fall by the wayside. The reality is that I have created more art in the years since becoming an art therapist than before. I tap into different pieces of my identity depending on whether I am making my personal art or guiding a client, but they are parallel experiences that inform and enrich each other. Without my background as an artist, I would not be an art therapist and my experiences as an art therapist feed directly back into my own art making.

I know that you have been involved with the 6 degrees of creativity online course. Can you tell us more about your experience?
It has been an incredible six months as an instructor for the 6 Degrees of Creativity 2 workshops. I am grateful to art therapist Gretchen Miller for creating the 6 Degrees of Creativity community and inviting me to be one of the instructors! I created and taught a workshop called Feeling Your Art: Exploring Texture and Process. We explored different techniques for making textured paintings, using acrylic modeling mediums as well as found textures and mixed media. The ultimate goal of the workshop was an invitation for participants to engage with the materials in a playful and process-driven way. The amount of support, inspiration, and fascinating dialogues moved me and it has been a pleasure to witness the visual process of the group members.

Where would you like to see art therapy go in the future?
I would like to see art therapists increasingly embrace our identities as both artists and art therapists. Sometimes in an attempt to fit into a pre-existing therapeutic model, I think that our field faces a significant challenge. It is critical that creative arts therapists become further recognized by insurance companies and state licensure boards as many other mental health professionals have. Rather than fitting into a pre-existing mold, established by the predominant medical model, however, our background as artists should be utilized to help us create a new paradigm for the work we do. We are in a unique position to offer our clients clinical expertise that is strengthened by the integration of our artist identity. When we can confidently embrace our unique capabilities and offerings, I believe that the creative arts therapist collective will unify to a greater degree and increasingly gain recognition on a national and international level.

Anything else you would like to share?
I would just like to thank you for creating this blog! It’s an amazing forum to connect with other art therapists, get inspired, and share the work that we are all doing in this phenomenal field.

If readers would like to connect with you, how should they do so?
Your Blog? Linkedin? Etc.
Sara's Art Therapy Blog
Sara's Art Site
Sara's Art Therapy Spot on Facebook

Originally posted on January 17, 2013