“Therapy isn’t only about the problems in your life, but also about embracing your strengths and building upon them.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
I’ve had an interest in both psychology and art since high school, when I worked with special needs children and studied art. I majored in psychology and minored in art as an undergraduate, before getting inspired to study the field of art therapy: the perfect choice for pursuing both of my passions. My career has included working in various clinical settings, such as special education, inpatient psychiatry, outpatient geriatric populations, and adult private practice. More recently, I’ve expanded into leading wellness groups that incorporate art therapy meditation, and aromatherapy for stress reduction.
What would you want someone to know about working with you?
Entering into psychotherapy is a courageous step that can be both exciting and frightening at the same time. It’s important that the client feels that therapy is a safe space for them to feel comfortable exploring their concerns and issues. I offer a supportive and compassionate approach and I’m always guided by the client’s individual needs. I encourage clients to ask any questions they may have—especially about the process of therapy. Therapy isn’t only about the problems in your life, but also about embracing your strengths and building upon them. During the first session, I will work with you to clarify and understand your needs and goals. Together, we will develop a plan to help you create change and balance in your life.
How does collaboration with other providers play into your work?
Collaboration with other health professionals has always been a part of my approach as a therapist. My years of experience working with psychiatric clinical teams in various health settings have given me a strong level of comfort working collaboratively with other professionals. Every therapist works within their own framework of experience and has certain limitations—therefore it’s important to be able to reach out to other colleagues when support or information is needed. The Alma community of professionals provides easy access to mental health providers who specialize in different areas of treatment, in addition to wellness education. This is a great resource for both clients and therapists. I am always open to furthering my education and expanding my knowledge in the field of mental health.
What do you think is the biggest barrier today for people seeking care?
The biggest obstacle for people seeking therapy is the stigma of shame. The culture of shame reinforces the thinking that there is something “wrong” with you if you have to seek out help—that you should be able to deal with your own problems and power through your life. Whatever it is that propels you to reach out and seek help, it should be applauded because it takes courage and strength. Seeking out help is also an act of hope and optimism—it gives you the opportunity to explore your feelings and work toward a more satisfying life. Therapy is self-care for your mental health and just as important as treating a physical illness.
What is art therapy?
An art therapist helps clients by using art, such as drawing or painting, to explore their feelings and issues during a therapy session. Sometimes words are not enough—using art materials can be a source of comfort. It can help clients express the thoughts and feelings that may be difficult to verbalize. It can also be a way of reducing anxiety and improving self-awareness. No experience with art is necessary to benefit from art therapy. Often, it’s the very process of using art materials that’s therapeutic and most meaningful.
“Sometimes words are not enough—using art materials can be a source of comfort.”
Interested in speaking with Denise?