I have been an artist as long as I can remember, although I never had the courage to use that word until I was forty years old! I thought an artist had to be classically trained, study somewhere amazing like Italy, and sell their art for thousands of dollars. I was just a person who liked to draw, at times to obsessive levels. I loved listening to music, hiding out in a safe environment, ignoring the world around me, diving into shadows and lines, leaving my anxiety far away, letting my mind wander or not; in fact, the “not wandering” was probably what attracted me most. I could easily lose 8 hours. You know what that is? That is being an artist.
I’ve also been a kid. (Isn’t that shocking?) Most people have this in their resume, but for me being a kid never really stopped. I loved to babysit when I was a teen, I loved to teach swimming lessons when I was in college (mostly to children), and after college I became a massage therapist – sadly leaving the play time behind. Fortunately for me, I had a child and was reintroduced to play! Unfortunately for me, I was exhausted beyond belief because she couldn’t sleep through the night (for a smooth decade) and what happened was my body found play to be too hard. Who would have ever thought that? I had no energy left. I forgot how to play, dreaming of naps on beaches instead.
I began taking continuing education classes when my daughter was one, in an effort to save the part of my self-identity that existed prior to family life. I managed a class a year, which was slow going, but I was encouraged by the knowledge I gained. I went to graduate school in 2010 because I wanted to use my skills as an artist to help other people. I entered into the world of Art Therapy.
It was hard to schedule full-time school around my husband’s job as a police officer, my child’s special needs (as we discovered in 2011 that she has sensory processing disorder), and my need to work part-time, but we managed and in 2013 I was fortunate enough to land an internship at the Play Therapy Institute of Colorado studying under Lisa Dion. Guess what happened there? I learned how to play again. It all came back to me and I started to understand the immense connection time I was missing with my own child while I dozed off or read the ridiculous number of articles I had for school. I learned mindfulness and best of all: MINDFUL PLAY! Amazing! I started to see children look me in the eye, and do things like tap their forehead and then point at my forehead (like “you get me, lady”) and everywhere I went little kids would smile at me from shopping carts, or peek over dining booths at me. I started to realize how emotional I would get when I saw parents yelling at their children, or shaming them in public. I had to do something.
When I graduated in 2014 I started my practice after a month of thinking about it. I continued for one more year at the Play Therapy Institute because I was so enthralled in learning about the neurobiology that takes place in these moments of mindful play (and art-making). I realized how my brain was able to process my life, good or bad, in those eight-hour art-making sessions. I learned that the art medium I had feared (painting) was actually the best form of play for me to access implicit memories and moments of felt-sense.
My therapy practice is for all-ages, though I find I connect best with little kids up through middle schoolers, their parents, and adults. I love teenagers…and I am far too big of a nerd to work with most of them. Sensory issues are my passion, having a sensory child of my own, and I thoroughly enjoy working with parents to rediscover their strengths and how to connect with their children. I have worked with the traumatized, the anxious, the obsessive, the shy and the overbearing. I do not currently work with the severely mentally ill.
If you are interested in working with me, through counseling with or without art and play therapy, please contact me so we can arrange an initial consult.