Dan is a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist specializing in multimodal individual and group therapy for children, adolescents and adults. His practice includes verbal and drama therapy for adults as well as art and drama therapy for children and adolescents. He graduated from Hofstra University with a Masters degree in Creative Arts Therapy, and received a postgraduate certificate in a unique method of drama therapy called Developmental Transformations.
He has led workshops at conferences and leading hospitals for children and is on the Board of Directors of the New York chapter of the American Professional Society for Abused Children. He is also published in two books focused on the power of the creative arts therapies.
I was introduced to Dan Summer through another art therapist, and find his unique approach to be so interesting and inspirational. For those of you in the NYC area Dan's private practice is hosting a benefit concert in Manhattan this Saturday, November 17th. Proceeds will go towards providing creative arts services to children in Queens NY, as well as, a portion will also go towards those who are still struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I hope you enjoy the interview, and will check out the concert as well! Click here for the Benefit Concert flyer.
What initially drew you to art therapy?
When I was in high school, my art teacher told me about art therapy. I was drawing since pretty young, but felt like I didn’t want to just be an artist. I enjoyed helping others so thought it was a good match.
How did you get to where you are today?
Some luck in regards to finding jobs, but also working in real clinical settings has made me more competent as a therapist. There have been some struggles along the way, but have been able to survive.
How would you describe your private practice?
I am a big believer in collaboration so I like to use many of the creative arts as possible. Most of the time I really want to be flexible and notice what the client needs.
What populations do you work with there?
My fulltime job is with emotionally disturbed children and adolescents up in the Bronx. Private practice is with children who are higher functioning, mostly struggling with anxiety, social skills. As it continues to grow, I should have a nice range of kids who have interesting stories.
You have a unique multimodal approach. Can you share a little about how you use this approach?
I wanted to do something else besides art therapy and that’s how I discovered Developmental Transformations. It is a form of drama therapy focusing on improvisation and play. It is a great way to engage folks and get them into their bodies. It is super effective with adults and children.
How would you like to see the work you do there grow?
With my General Partnership ART of PLAYING. We would love to have kids come in and participate in different workshops and work on their own original material which could be used as a performance in the community. Right now we are doing 8-10 week workshops, mostly introducing kids to the arts and showing them it’s okay to be themselves.
What are struggles or challenges have you had to overcome in this work?
A lot of bureaucratic issues in corporate settings. Demonstrating that the creative arts are effective in healing and promoting emotional well being. Starting up the business from scratch has been a challenge. I’m learning as I go along.
I know you have a Benefit Concert coming up on November 17th. What can you share with us about the event?
This will be a fundraiser for ART of PLAYING. We are looking to raise funds so we can continue to provide creative arts services to children in Queens NY. Due to hurricane, we will also use it to raise some funds for people who are struggling. Click here for the Benefit Concert flyer.
What kind of music will the concert be?
This will be a diverse show with lots of different styles.
What keeps you going as an art therapist? And/or Where do you find inspiration? A desire to grow, and collaborate. I constantly need to grow or I get burned out. I find my inspiration by going to conferences and seeing other cool stuff therapists are doing. Creatively going to museums or galleries inspires me to stay creative when possible.
Do you have any special self-care techniques?
Writing plays, drawing, exercising and meditation.
Is there any art therapist or someone in the mental health profession alive or dead that you would like to meet, speak with, or pick their brain?
My sons middle name is Winnicott. I loved his ideas about the playspace and developmental theories over all, Wouldn’t mind having a drink with him.
Anything else you would like to share?
If anyone has any kids to refer, let me know!
Originally posted November 13, 2012