Art Therapy Perspectives 

Interview with Gretchen Miller, MA, ATR-BC, CTC, Founder of The Art Therapy Alliance

Gretchen Miller, MA, ATR-BC, CTC is a Registered Board Certified Art Therapist and Certified Trauma Consultant practicing in Cleveland, Ohio.  Gretchen's clinical practice currently specializes in the area of childhood trauma and loss, working with youth and women impacted by domestic violence.  Gretchen presents regionally and nationally on the application of art therapy, and is a guest lecturer, post-graduate supervisor, and Adjunct at Ursuline College's Master of Arts in Art Therapy & Counseling Program in Pepper Pike, Ohio.  Gretchen is also a Past President of Ohio’s Buckeye Art Therapy Association (BATA). Gretchen is the Founder of The Art Therapy Alliance, an on-line network that embraces social media and connection to promote art therapy, the work of art therapists, and build community.   

I have been inspired by the Art Therapy Alliance’s ability to connect art therapists socially and especially on the web, in addition to it’s ability to inspire art therapists to share about their projects, spaces, and places. I was so thrilled when Gretchen Miller agreed to share more about her own art therapy practice, as well as about the development of the Art Therapy Alliance. I can truly say that my own blog was partially inspired by the Art Therapy Alliance, and my growing desire to connect with more art therapists both on and offline. I hope that her story inspires you too, and that more art therapists will learn and understand the value in joining forces to promote art therapy around the world.

What initially drew you to art therapy?
My involvement in the arts since childhood, a strong interest in psychology that developed in high school, and a desire to help people created the core foundation to having interest in art therapy.  Coursework I took while in college as an undergraduate art therapy major had a strong impact on me to keep learning more. Hands on opportunities to provide art experiences during this time through volunteering, summer camp experiences, and college practicums with youth and adults in need, reinforced what I was learning in the classroom and inspired me to seek graduate art therapy training to become an art therapist.

What populations do you/have you worked with?
Early in my career, I spent the first eight years developing and providing art therapy services within residential treatment/partial hospitalization settings for youth with severe emotional and behavioral needs. My work in residential treatment motivated me to focus more in the area of childhood trauma and loss, as well as receive additional training and certification. Since 2004 this has included providing art therapy to children and teens from homes of domestic violence, grieving children and adolescents who have experienced a death of a loved one, as well as women survivors of domestic violence.

How did you get to where you are today?
My love of art therapy, dedication to the profession, and supportive colleagues, co-workers, peers, mentors, and supervisors have had an important impact in shaping and cultivating my art therapy education, work and service to the field.

How would you describe your style or approach as an art therapist?
My art therapy work has increasingly become much more group based with implementing interventions and strategies that are strength based and trauma informed.

How did you come up with the idea of the Art Therapy Alliance?
Since the late ‘90s and my days of art therapy graduate school, I've had a passion in online technology for networking within the field. Over the last decade this has developed into creating and managing websites and forums related to art therapy, creativity, social networking, and community organizing for art therapists. In 2008, The Art Therapy Alliance was first created as an on-line professional group through LinkedIn and its website presence to provide a space to connect about current topics, news, and discussions. Since 2008, The Art Therapy Alliance has grown into a network also available on FacebookTwitterPinterest, Polyvore and more to embrace social media and connection for promoting art therapy and the work of art therapists.

What sort of challenges have you faced with the Art Therapy Alliance?
Technology and social networking tools are always changing and growing, so keeping up to date with new ideas, applications, and emerging possibilities along with existing social media for community building can be a fun challenge.

How would you like to see the Art Therapy Alliance grow?
In general, I would like to keep seeing art therapy and art therapists' presence within social media and online activities expand, including but not limited to: art therapy services in the news, on the web, blogging, in education, or sharing resources and ideas in digital or visual form. These individual contributions help promote the field, our work as art therapists and continue to expand the overall collective vision of the Art Therapy Alliance.

Have you had a favorite Art Therapy Alliance project?
An Art Therapy Alliance sponsored project from this year that Art Therapist Magdalena Karlick and I organized and I really enjoyed was "Spaces and Places: Where We Create". Through social media and digital photo sharing on Facebook, Flickr, and Instagram, this collaborative project aimed to provide education, awareness, inspiration, and understanding about the spaces & places, settings, populations, and materials that the art therapy community works in and uses within their practice. The photos and stories art therapists and students shared from around the world about their spaces were so inspiring to receive, post, and learn from about how we work and create.  You can see photos from the project here.

Is there any one thing you would like people to know about the Art Therapy Alliance that they may not know?
Since 2008, The Art Therapy Alliance's group on LinkedIn has been the largest forum for art therapy and social networking. I have much gratitude for the continued support and interest received by the art therapy community active with social networking and interested in using or accessing social media to promote or learn more about art therapy.

How have you seen the art therapy industry grow and change over recent years?
The expanding use of social networking online and the technological applications we have available to share, learn, and exchange information or experiences has significantly transformed the way the field and art therapists connect globally, communicate, seek support, and promote their work.

Where would you like to see art therapy as a whole go in the future?
Growing and strengthening art therapy's practice, as well as, protecting consumers from untrained professionals by becoming recognized through licensure and regulation.

If readers would like to connect to Gretchen Miller they can do so through her website, or through the Art Therapy Alliance website

Originally posted on November 26, 2012

Interview with Artemis Anagnostopoulos - Angelone, Art Therapist in Rome, Italy

Artemis Anagnostopoulos – Angelone is a graduate of the Art Therapy Four Year Training Program held by Art Therapy Italiana, and is registered with A.P.I.Art. the Italian Association for Professional Art Therapists. She has worked with a variety of populations and is part of a transdisciplinary team for the care of children and adolescents inpatients at the oncology – hematology dept. of the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome. Artemis was recently invited by the Luigi Pigorini National Museum for Prehistorical and Ethnographic Studies to present her work with international populations residing in Rome and the Lazio province. She is active in the Association Art Therapy Italiana and advocates for the profession’s full recognition and regulation in Italy.

Artemis Anagnostopoulos-Angelone and I were connected via the Art Therapy Alliance group on Linkedin. I was thrilled that she was open to being interviewed, and to learn more about art therapy in Italy. It was especially interesting for me to read about some of the struggles art therapy as a profession is going through to be more recognized in Italy. I believe educating and advocating for art therapy is truly a global goal. I really enjoyed the interview process with Artemis, and learned a lot from her interview. Thank you Artemis for sharing your journey with art therapy.

What initially drew you to art therapy?
I first discovered art as a medium for self-exploration and authentic inner dialogue when I was twelve years old, a few months before relocating with my family from Greece to Italy. At that time my art was strongly connected with supporting this process of change. Once we settled in Rome I studied at the visual arts high school and the academy of fine arts for the following eight years. Although I wasn’t aware of the existence of art therapy I sort of knew at an intuitive level the potential of art for healing, communication and empowerment. As an adult I developed an interest in psychodynamic studies as well, and found a close link with my vision of the art process. As soon as a qualified art therapy training course was established in Rome I decided to study the discipline and pursue the career. I remember reading the school’s description of the course and requirements for applying as a student and thinking “Hey, that’s me!” This was the very beginning.

What populations do you/have you worked with?
As an intern art therapist I worked with children and adolescents inpatients in a neuropsychiatric unit and with outpatients at a clinical center for therapy and prevention of emotional disorders. I also held a self-expression workshop with an international group of parents, caregivers of their children affected by organic health problems. Participants were citizens of countries in war or developing countries of Africa and Asia. They were supported in Rome by international healthcare agreements.

I have also worked with immigrants and refugees - mostly women and children - researching a multimodal approach that combines art therapy and dance-movement therapy in co-operation with colleagues who are dance-movement therapists. I currently work with children and adolescents affected by cancer at a pediatric hospital unit. I regularly acknowledge the benefit patients get from medical art therapy.

How did you get to where you are today?
After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome in visual arts and stage design, I specialized as an art therapist at the four-year training program held by Art Therapy Italiana with headquarters in the city of Bologna. As a student I started searching for an internship as soon as my training program allowed it and managed to find it soon. This was very helpful for connecting theory and practice from the very beginning.

After graduation it was difficult finding a job as an art therapist because there’s no licensure or any type of recognition for our field in Italy. When I was asked to be part of a team, composed by two educators who held creative arts workshops at the Pediatric Hospital Bambino Gesù I accepted. I worked briefly as a substitute during summer vacations and gradually gained more work and responsibility. Being the only art therapist in the group I was able to bring a different point of view, a new method and experience, expanding the team’s resources. Today I collaborate with the elementary school teacher in the morning hours. In the afternoon I carry out sessions in the inpatients ward, the types of setting are open studio and bedside.

During the last three years I’ve been meeting regularly with dance-movement therapists to study a multimodal approach that combines our disciplines for supporting the well being of immigrants and refugees residing in public institutions. In September 2012 our group received an invitation to present our experiences at a conference that will be held in a city museum next spring. I believe in the art therapist being active under many aspects. Art therapy is a field for study and research, a cultural and intercultural agent, a career choice and much more.

What are struggles or challenges have you had to overcome in your career?
Art therapy in Italy is struggling to become a licensed profession like in many other countries and states around the globe. As a consequence, the main challenges are connected to the lack of state regulations and recognition for our profession. A lot of people and most institutions still don’t know what it means so I often have to introduce them to the meaning and principles of the discipline. I try to be creative and I enjoy advocating for art therapy.

Does art therapy in Rome differ from art therapy in other parts of the world?
It is well known that ancient societies commonly used the arts for the care of suffering people. However, as far as I know Art Therapy as a modern mental health discipline originates both in Great Britain and the United States of America. In 1982 three art therapists - two Italian and an American - upon returning from their postgraduate studies in New York founded the first art therapy association in Italy. Art Therapy Italiana initially was a small group but became larger as artists, dancers, psychologists and more arts therapists also with British studies in their background joined in. Together they created a four-year training program for art therapists and one for dance-movement therapists. The approach is psychodynamic with a special reference to the object relations theory. This year is the thirtieth anniversary since the foundation of Art Therapy Italiana.

In the meantime more associations and schools were founded with different features and approaches, such as psycho/physiologic, Jungian, Gestalt, etc. Art therapist groups continue to come up with a variety of styles and points of view. Some use “art as therapy”, others are centered on “art psychotherapy”, others use both approaches depending on the clients’ needs. Evidence based research in art therapy and the study of the relationships between the art process and neuroscience is considered very important by the art therapists’ community in Italy. A blend of European and American art therapy is probably a common and precious background for most art therapists around the world. What makes art therapy special at a local level is the slightly different way we use theory and tools for meeting the clients’ needs considering that each person’s own culture and society affects the way both patient and therapist relate with self and others. This is true even in this age of globalization.

How do you connect with other art therapists both in Rome and around the globe?
I connect through national and international conferences, email, social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook. I enjoy groups like Art Therapy Alliance. I invite national and international colleagues to lecture at Exploratoria AT & DMT workshops in Rome. I also enjoyed responding to your call and participating in your interview project. Thank you Victoria.

What keeps you going as an art therapist? And/or where do you find inspiration?
My love for art and art making as an authentic means for exploration and expression, respect and devotion to patients as well as trust in my theoretical and practical tools keep me going. Inspiration comes from relationship with patients, contact with other art therapists and special moments of good interdisciplinary teamwork.

How, if at all, have you witnessed the art therapy profession grow and change in Italy?
Art Therapy in Italy is still expecting full recognition and legal regulation. Even though a number of trained art therapists have been working for a long time in health programs, institutes and hospitals, the word "art therapy" is not used yet in such institutions’ official documents, budget, web sites, job descriptions etc. Nevertheless doctors, nurses, teachers, parents and especially patients rely on our specialized contribution. During the first months of 2012 a law was approved in the Parliament and is being discussed now in the Senate of the Republic. This law aims to establish guidelines for licensure regarding many categories of professionals that exist and fully contribute to our society but are still waiting for recognition. If it should be approved all arts therapists will work under better conditions but also other professions, such as physiotherapists, archaeologists, tax consultants and many more.

The national association that advocates from a legal point of view is A.P.I.Art. (Italian Association for Professional Art Therapists). Over many years they have carried out a lot of work by selecting the requirements for Art Therapy training and approving a number of Schools according to their programs, establishing a Code of Ethics as well as a professional roll for art therapists compliant with the above requirements, etc..

How, if at all, do you advocate for art therapy both locally and abroad?
As a member of Art Therapy Italiana I am part of a group active in Rome and the Lazio region and I am in charge of a permanent initiative called "Exploratoria AT & DMT" (AT stands for Art Therapy and DMT for Dance Movement Therapy). It started in Rome in 2010 with the aim to enhance communication and exchange of experience between art therapists, dance movement therapists and other professionals working in private and public healthcare, both at a national and international level. For example, next month an event will be held by a team composed of a music therapist, an art therapist and a dance-movement therapist.

If you could work with any population or anywhere on the planet for a week or two, what would you do?
I’m interested in expanding my knowledge over the application of art therapy in many contexts with different populations. However, in this moment I would like to support families in bereavement especially those who have lost a young child or adolescent. Another population of interest is people with insulin dependent diabetes. About “where on the planet”, I would like to visit places where art therapy is considered more or less at the same level as any other mental health or medical therapy and bring this experience back with me.

Do you have any special self-care techniques?
When I’m tired and under pressure I briefly recall a natural landscape from my homeland, some place I really visited and loved. I get a feeling of returning solid, centered and connected with myself. This is my emergency technique. Otherwise I love spending time with family and friends, going to art exhibits simply enjoying what I see, listening to music, collecting shells on the beach, having Sunday lunch at a little restaurant.

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?
Donald Winnicott, Marion Milner, Thomas Ogden, Joy Shaverien and Cathy Malchiodi, just to list a few.

Readers interested in connecting with Artemis can do so via her LinkedIn page. 

Originally posted on November 19, 2012.

Interview with Dan Summer LCAT, MA ATR-BC

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!

If readers would like to connect/contact you, how should they do so?
I am on Linkedin under Dan Summer. Also my website is .

Originally posted November 13, 2012

Interview with Amanda Zucker, MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT, Certified Yoga Instructor

Amanda Zucker graduated with a BA in Fine Arts and a minor in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in 2008. Amanda received her Masters Degree in Art Therapy from the School of Visual Arts, in New York, in 2011. While pursuing her masters, Amanda achieved her 200 hour teaching certification from Yoga to the People. Rooted in the foundations of fine arts, psychology, yoga, and education, she embraces mindfulness in her daily life, and in her work with youth and adults. She works as an artist, art therapist, teacher and yoga instructor in New York. She encourages wellness through means of expression, compassion, respect, and humor.

Amanda and I met in 2009 at the start of our School of Visual Arts’ Art Therapy master’s program. Amanda’s experience as both a Creative Arts Therapist and Certified Yoga instructor has always been inspirational to me, and seems to keep her very centered. She has worked with a wide range of populations, and has had successes with all of them. Amanda is warm, open, and has a great sense of humor, all of which I think come across in this interview.

What initially drew you to art therapy?
I was drawn to the healing aspects of art making. When I first learned about art therapy, I could feel something within me light up. It made sense, and resonated with my experience of art making.

What populations do you/have you worked with?
I have had the pleasure of working with adults in both inpatient psychiatric and outpatient day treatment settings. Within the day treatment setting, I worked with adults and their families dealing with issues surrounding drug use, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, and trauma. I have also worked with youth in transitional housing. I currently work within a high school with students that are at-risk, for various reasons, and under credited to graduate.

How did you get to where you are today?
I have been incredibly fortunate to have people who support and believe in my work and who I am as a person. I have gotten to where I am today through support of loved ones, listening to my mentors, and listening to the voice inside.

How would you describe your style or approach as an art therapist?
Client-centered, playful yet structured, with a hint of humor, and pinch of awareness. As most therapists, I work with what I see from the client. I mention structure only because most of the clients I work with tend to have a great deal of chaos within their lives. Structure provides consistency and overall safety. Humor is also mentioned because it tends to lighten things up, when we smile or laugh our muscles literally loosen. I have found that making a small joke about myself is disarming. Awareness is also important and I can explain that a bit more below.

What are struggles or challenges have you had to overcome in your career?
Starting was challenging. In this economy, I have to say that finding art therapy work was particularly challenging. Not impossible, but challenging.

I also have found myself still struggling to find the words to describe art therapy. This makes it hard to really advocate for the field, and explain to the clients what they are about to engage in. I have found that it is easier just to give people a taste, either through experience or sharing an anecdote.

You are also a certified yoga instructor, do you include yoga into your art therapy practice? If so, how?
I do, yes! I sometimes will bring yoga movement into a session when I feel stagnant energy or if the clients are requesting it. Mostly, I use meditation or mindfulness practices in the art making process or to open or close a session. Because most clients find that creating art is relaxing, I want them to make the most of that feeling, by fully experiencing it. I encourage clients/students to be fully present and notice the imagery they are working with, the colors, the textures and then notice the feelings that are inside of them.

What keeps you going as an art therapist? And/or Where do you find inspiration?
I think the inspiration comes from the clients. In working with any population, one sees certain needs being expressed. I think that creatively addressing those needs is a process that keeps the work fresh. I also try to engage myself creatively outside of work by painting or seeing art shows.

Do you have any special self-care techniques?
I am not sure if I would call them techniques, but I make sure that I take moments for myself while working. Even if it is three deep breaths and noticing that my feet are actually on the ground, and not floating off with the difficult stories I just heard, or occupied by the upcoming tasks. I also try to make sure I shake off work when I leave. This can be difficult, but a nice yoga class/home practice or phone call with a friend usually helps. I also try to keep things in perspective by remembering that I am all but one piece of the client’s puzzle, and I do not have to be any more than that.

How, if at all, do you advocate for the field?
As I stated earlier, I try my best to explain what we do to people I meet and co-workers. Beyond that, I try to be a good example of a healthy, balanced and professional art therapist, that way people at least associate art therapy with something that might be positive.

Where would you like to see art therapy go in the future?
I would like to see art therapists or other creative arts therapists, a standard in every school, hospital and mental health setting.

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?
Judith Rubin has always intrigued me, and luckily she is alive and going to be in NYC for the Expressive Therapies Summit. I would also love to chat with Carl Jung.

If you could work with any population or anywhere on the planet for a week or two, what would you do?
I have always wanted to go to India. There is a program that connects teaching artists with students in Bangalore, India. I would love to travel and work with other mental health workers to exchange best practices and promote self-care through the use of artistic expression and movement.

Anything else you would like to share?
I think that about covers it, thanks for taking the time to read my responses.

If readers would like to connect with Amanda, you can do so at her Linkedin Page.

Originally posted on October 23, 2012

Interview with Jenna Krauter, MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT, Creative Art Therapist

Jenna Krauter is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts currently working as a Creative Arts Therapist in an inpatient psychiatric unit in New Jersey. Jenna has worked with a variety of populations, and recently presented at the 2012 American Art Therapy Association (AATA) conference on recycled materials in art therapy and art therapy with artists.

Jenna and I have known each other since 2009. We both attend the School of Visual Arts for our art therapy masters program, however, she specialized in the addictions track. Jenna has done a lot for the art therapy community since graduation, including giving several presentations at the 2012 American Art Therapy Association Conference in Savannah. Jenna is wise beyond her years, and is a great person to have representing art therapists. She is warm, caring, and very funny. I am so glad that she was open to sharing about her experience here in this ‘Interviews with Art Therapists’ series.

What initially drew you to art therapy?
I have always felt a connection with art in general, and I knew that, for me, it was one of the truest ways to express myself. I've also always found artmaking to be healing. When I found out that there was an entire field built around the beliefs I held, I was immediately drawn to the field.

What populations do you/have you worked with?
When I was in grad school, I interned at a high school for emotionally disturbed adolescents and an outpatient program for adults with chronic mental illness. I was also on the counseling team, where I worked individually with an undergraduate student. In addition to this, I did a few special projects where I did short term art therapy work with children at the Ronald McDonald House, cancer patients at Gilda's Club, and senior citizens in a day program. Working in inpatient psych is my first full time job, but I have worked at a few different hospitals in New Jersey in similar settings.

How did you get to where you are today?
Once I decided to pursue a career in Art Therapy, I had to backtrack a bit and take some prerequisite courses since I had never taken psychology courses while in college. I applied to a few different schools and wound up choosing School of Visual Arts (SVA). When I graduated, I worked briefly as a substitute art therapist at the school I had interned at during my first year while the staff art therapist was away. During that time I was searching for jobs. A few months later I found a part-time position at the hospital I work at now. I searched for a while for a part time position to supplement it and eventually was working part-time as an art therapist at two hospitals. When one of the therapists I was working with decided to leave her position, I was offered a full-time position.

What are struggles or challenges have you had to overcome in your career?
I think overall the biggest challenge I've faced in my career has been searching for a job. In this economy and competitive job market, it was really difficult to keep up my morale. Another challenging aspect of the field is advocating for art therapy. In New Jersey there is no license for art therapists at present. It can be frustrating to have to explain the level of education and qualification for jobs/duties that would typically go to someone else.

What keeps you going as an art therapist? And/or Where do you find inspiration?
It is always inspirational to see what other art therapists are doing. I like to go to lectures and art exhibits for encouragement. I also think that even just talking with other art therapists is really reinforcing. In a lot of places you might be the only art therapist on site, so talking to another art therapist can be really refreshing.

Do you have any special self-care techniques?
I've been trying to go to more yoga classes. It really helps to relax when working in such a high paced environment. Sometimes I find it helpful to get off site during my lunch break or even just go outside for a breath of fresh air to remove myself from an intense work environment. Having a support network is probably the most important thing to me. I have a core group of friends from grad school who are really supportive. When I need advice or encouragement, I know that I can go to them.

How, if at all, do you advocate for the field?
I try to explain art therapy to anyone who doesn't know too much about the field. The hospital I work at is a teaching hospital, so I am always sure to touch base with the medical students who work with us so that the next generation of professionals will know about the work that we do. As I said previously, there is no license for art therapists in NJ, so I try to keep updated on what progress is being made. I've written to a few people about it and signed a few different petitions to help support the efforts being made by the NJ Art Therapy Association.

Is there anything other than art therapy that you could see yourself doing, or if you were not an art therapist what would you be?
I am really interested in art history, so maybe something with that. When I was in college I majored in Spanish. So I can see myself teaching English as a second language in another country, or even pursuing a greater education in Spanish civilization and culture.

Where would you like to see art therapy go in the future?
I think art therapy is headed in a great direction and becoming so much more well known. It's great to see the field really spreading. I'd love to see it more widely accepted in a greater array of settings. I also think it's important for us, as art therapists to maybe take a more evidence-based approach to our studies. In order to appeal for the more well-established, quantitative fields we tend to work in conjunction with, the evidence piece will really help advocate for the field.

Is there any art therapist (or another mental health professional) alive or dead that you would like to meet, speak with, or pick their brain?
Without a doubt, I would have to say Freud. Daniel Siegel and Bruce Perry are also wonderful authors/clinicians whose works I find to be extremely inspirational.

If you could work with any population anywhere on earth for a week or two, who would it be?
I think it would be fascinating to work in one of the programs in the Middle East that focuses on reintegrating terrorists into society.

If readers would like to connect with you, how should they do so?
I'm on Linkedin, and I would love to connect with fellow professionals or others interested in art therapy.

Originally posted on October 12, 2012.