The Essential Art Therapy Directives workshop was a success! It consisted of 14 participants who were all at different stages of their career and who were all art therapists. Valerie and I co-facilitated this workshop and I felt we complimented each other nicely. Participants were asked to explore who they were on a deep level and call upon parts of themselves to work with and reflect upon. I want to express great gratitude for everyone who attended for showing up authentically and allowing themselves to be vulnerable.
Many things came up for in the process of planning for this workshop, co facilitating and reflecting on it afterwards…
When I first started out on the path of becoming an art therapist, the concepts of art as therapy and art and therapy were always discussed and questioned as far as which one is better and what direction I should walk towards in this work. It was often presented as a split as if I had to choose one or the other. I tend to be more depth oriented and found that in depth work, directives were often not offered and went against the very nature of spontaneity, trusting the process and allowing unconscious material to surface. Perhaps it felt like directives also had an attached agenda and did not feel client centered… Directives felt more aligned with ‘art and therapy’ whereas no directives felt more aligned with ‘art as therapy.’
In my work as a practicing art therapist, I have had to challenge this perspective and come to recognize that this was not a perspective that I hold. I use directives all the time in my work and still consider myself depth oriented with some strong transpersonal flavor. As Val and I prepared for this workshop, we found that it was hard to limit the essential directives to ten (as we had originally planned) and then it was hard to limit them to 20. We ended up settling at 21. Judging by the turn out and the intentions of participants it is evident that this workshop was needed and that there needs to be more sharing amongst therapists of approaches, techniques and directives.
As I reflect on the workshop, I recognize the strengths of supporting this kind of professional development and what could have been done differently. One piece that I would have spent more time on is spontaneity and variations of the essentials. I often have to think on my feet in session and come up with directives on the spot. It takes practice to do this and thoughtful intention. This is essential in being flexible, not being attached to an agenda or outcome and aligning with the client and meeting them where they are. Another piece I would have liked to spend some time with is client resistance. I believe this workshop could benefit from being longer and perhaps the list could be narrowed to allow for more space and time to really examine all of them.
My inner critic must be awakened right now as we spent time working with our inner critics in the workshop. As I awaken my inner advocate, I see that art therapy is deep and meaningful work and I was happy to provide space for my colleagues to learn and grow together. I am pleased by the interesting discussions that were ignited during the process and I am content with the outcome and the workshop as a whole.
I send deep gratitude to Valerie Valentine for being my co-facilitator and mentor through my career and I also want to send gratitude to all the participants that joined us at the workshop.
With Great Thanks,
Workshop Co-Facilitator, NMATA President Elect
All Photos are by Breanna Cox, Breanna’s Creations, Photojournalist –
also NMATA Communications Chair.
The New Mexico Art Therapy Association team was at the New Mexico Counseling (NMCA) Annual Conference this past weekend. Here is reflection from NMATA President Val Valentine – I attended the informational panel about mental health and legislation during the NMCA conference. It was very informative and I got some great contacts for NMATA to utilize in our up-coming legislative push for insurance parity. We made some great connections at the conference with like-minded individuals and organizations that were very stimulating and informative. I look forward to giving you all an in-person impression at the Membership Meeting April 21. Make plans to attend! It is going to be an inspiring and very creative gathering. See you there, Val.
Here is the experience from board member and Communications Chair – Breanna Cox.
Over the last few days, I served at the New Mexico Art Therapy Association’s (NMATA) table at the Annual Conference for New Mexico Counselors Association (NMCA). However, I feel privileged that I benefited both personally and professionally. I was able to connect, network, and learn things that I would not learn in an experiential-based school like Southwestern College. Thank you to both NMATA and NMCA for allowing me the opportunity. As an exhibitor on the NMATA Board of Directors team: I made it clear that as a student, since I can not get CEUs – I made myself available so that the rest of the NMATA team could.
A brief summary of this year’s theme and location/date –
2018 NMCA Annual Conference
NEW MEXICO STRONG:
Thriving in the Face of Challenges
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By: Christina Calderon
I can’t remember a time when photographs were not a part of my life. As a child my mother would make clothes for me and my two sisters, then dress us up and take our photo. It was something my friends looked forward to at sleepovers and one of my fondest memories of being young and having fun with my mother and sisters. These snippets of time are forever frozen in two dimensional realities. They remind me of the brevity of my emotions and how important art has been to me from early childhood. Photographs not only tell stories, but they document time, places, culture. They are windows to inner worlds and emotions.
The camera becomes a tool used to explore anything, and the photographer is then endowed with new insight to self and the world around them. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I began to take photography seriously as an art form and later still that I began to apply this medium to therapeutic processes related to mental health. There aren’t many books on the applications of photography in the world of expressive therapies, yet the possibilities of using this medium are boundless. Techniques can deepen and improve a client’s understanding of their relationship to emotions, people, or even addictions and trauma.
Like art therapy, photo therapy allows individuals to speak in ways that words alone cannot do. One of my favorite tasks in session is to ask my client to take the Polaroid camera outside, and take three to five photos that will tell me something, anything, about who they are or what they are feeling. The results are always profound.
Here are a couple of resources you can uses in your own exploration of photo therapy.
Exploring the Self through Photography: Activities for Use in Group Work
Book by Claire Craig
Welcome to the NMATA Blog. This year, 2018, we have decided as a Board, to invite each board member to write for the blog as they feel prompted. This means that you, the reader, will get a variety of opinions, interests, points-of-view, and inspiration.
As president, I volunteered to write the first offering. I, Val Valentine, make this disclaimer now: this blog is my personal reflections and current understandings, all of which are subject to change as they evolve.
As I move into my third year of leadership with NMATA, I reflect on how much I have been stretched and expanded by this position and this association. This blog offering is my examination of multi-facets of the current challenge within the art therapy profession and within our nation, and some of my personal conclusions to date that help me find balance and optimism during this incredibly challenging time in human history.
Last year, NMATA worked extremely hard and with great enthusiasm to host the annual AATA conference. We spent many months in meetings planning together with our membership, many hours of preparation for the four ways we were asked to serve as host. We created a beautiful and moving memorial alter; a welcoming and warm hospitality hub; a fun and interactive closing event with live band, table art, and 20 handmade door prizes; and the amazing Gesture of Warm service project that gave conference attendees the opportunity to come together to knit and crochet gifts for the homeless of ABQ. This NMATA Service Project resulted in the creation of over 230 hand-made scarves, hats, and much needed items of warmth for the most at-risk and marginalized in our State. This donation, valued at approximately $2000, was made possible by the contributions of individual art therapists coming together during the conference, creating, and serving the greater good.
But I want to validate something larger that was served through this beautiful project – it served as a meeting place, a place of calm debate, a common activity of giving that helped to process the pain and frustration within us. This project served as a bridge.
It pains me to own, that art therapy as a profession has always been split. Just as we were emerging from the “art as” or “art in therapy” split, coming to fully embrace the wisdom of both as our own, now we have a new splitting challenge: Karen Pence, the Second Lady of very exclusive, controlling, and judgmental politics chooses Art Therapy as her term initiative for advocacy. AATA responded to this call, by requiring that AATA determine and guide her words and her public representation of the profession, making clear that she has no influence on AATA policy. There is great resistance to this action from many art therapists. During the conference, this resistance was very vocal in its opposition and rejection of AATA’s role, naming it as unethical and threatening to the marginalized communities art therapists serve.
I must admit, that the reality of this split has kept me up more nights than I care to disclose. I have examined repeatedly and I know this will continue for me: my own white privilege, my own values and ethics, my personal and professional intentions and purpose, and how the state of our national politics and world condition is affecting the profession I love so much. I have agonized in pain trying to imagine the fear and threat that is so prominently real for so many people in the US currently. I have witnessed in horror the changes our national leadership is making to policy and law. I have experienced myself hooked into the “us and them; right and wrong” culture that this political leadership has epitomized and deliberately fostered.
And I have grieved.
Finally, I have concluded for myself, that what I want to resist is this culture of division. I want to bridge. I want to advocate for the well-being of all people. I resist the polarization within our world, our nation, and the art therapy profession. I affirm that I respect and support both sides of the art therapy split. I wish to help lead NMATA as a grass-roots organization that goes beyond the rhetoric and fear of politics and current realities, to empower the common humanity within our community. I know, without doubt in my mind or heart, that art therapists are some of the most aware, empathic, caring, non-judgmental, inclusive people in our country. We chose this profession because we believe in the healing power of creation, in the authentic value of every human being. We support our client’s in creating the best life they can imagine, according to their values and abilities, not according to ours. Those trained at Southwestern College have sat in the fire of their own soul’s path, so that they can do this work, clean and without personal agenda. This creates a perspective and power that is rare and precious and valuable. For me, it is an honor and privilege from the Universe to be an art therapist. I credit all those that have come before me to light this path, for my own success.
NMATA, with AATA, as parent organization, has the potential to grow and act beyond all that we inherit, as all off-spring do. We are not limited to our parental limitations; as they are national and involved at a higher level of interaction with other national organizations – we are grassroots, on the ground, hands on. We can take the best of what we are given and evolve beyond. I would like to guide us in knowing that we can stand together in the identity of art therapy, and create bridges with those who have different values.
I am an art therapist. For me that includes the vision, mission, and values outlined on the AATA website and the vision and mission of our State chapter. My identity as an art therapist also includes my professional and personal mission, vision, and values. As political discernment has become a cultural imperative, I have wrestled and struggled to find a way to walk my values through this complex and painful issue. For myself, I reject the perception that to allow Karen Pence to advocate for mental health and art therapy means that I am in alignment with her politics. I am not.
I discern great potential and great peril within this split. The potential for rejecting Pence advocacy includes making a stand against systematic racism, religion in politics, and oppressive policy. IMO, this is a political statement that serves our own indignation about current politics but does not align with our mission which is to expand the public knowledge about art therapy. The potential for allowing and guiding her advocacy are that we work from within the system to stand for dignity and mental health for all and we reach more people.
I believe we can retain our identity while bridging. For me, this is more in alignment with my values of inclusivity. (personally…if art therapists cannot do this global work…who can?) The potential of allowing her advocacy is that we can be leaders and show a way to grow into a collective that can support and foster the well-being and dignity of every human being. The peril of making the political statement of rejecting Pence is that we lose credibility in our own values of non-judgmental inclusivity and we alienate part of the population, which unfortunately may include our military who so desperately need art therapy services. It is also true, that the peril of allowing her advocacy is that some who would seek art therapy may not, due to a perceived alliance with her politics. This has terrified many art therapists and students who fear that Pence advocacy changes our identity as a profession. I want to claim for us all that it does not change our identity, but we need to know this and be able to verbalize this.
If we cannot, we become caught in the duality and national splitting that has such detrimental effects on the health of the collective. The global peril, as I see it, is that we, art therapists, inadvertently reinforce the split because of this belief; and limit our identity to political party affiliation, leaving no room for collaboration what-so-ever. For me, this time in history is demanding that I examine and discern to the depths of my ability. It is confusing and painful and again a sleep-robber, but I have come to stand in the resolve of the principle of Bridging our humanity.
Because of my education at Southwestern College, because of my transpersonal believe system and my personal spiritual practices, I struggle to see the biggest picture I can imagine. I work to have my choices in alignment with my biggest perceptions. I know I am not alone in this practice. I, personally, chose not to succumb to the splitting, dehumanizing politics, as I can perceive them. I choose collaboration for the greater good, even in the discomfort of collaborating with those who do not share my values.
It is my desire and intention to guide NMATA for this last year of my term of leadership, by the Light of these guideposts I have clarified through my own personal exploration of the current challenge in our profession, our country and our world:
• The principle that all people who seek mental health services deserve non-judgmental therapeutic support and assistance toward the personal goals they self-determine.
• The principle of activism to advocate for the advancement and improvement of social justice and healthcare for the marginalized and disadvantaged.
• The principle of collaboration and respect in search of common ground; of shared humanity; of solutions that bridge during this time of division.
• The principle of consciousness that describes how we create what we focus on as individuals and as a collective. I chose to focus on bridging at this time.
• The principle of growth and evolution through thoughtful consideration, choice, and action; which allows for change as more information is assimilated
• The principle of accepting what is, while working toward the greatest good for all.
With these guideposts, I offer a way to accept the Pence initiative at face value, knowing that allowing her advocacy does not limit our personal or professional values to hers nor define AATA’s or NMATA’s identity as hers. Because of the challenge and contemplation within the field, it has actually strengthened our identity, our principles and our resolve to hold and honor the realities of our national and global politics, while clearly articulating, educating, and facilitating social change through mental health and art therapy advocacy.
I encourage us all to live our values, to lift our voices, to be active in our world. This call to awareness and action is critical at this point in history. We are a profession of privileged women. I know that part of what drives every art therapist is the duty to use this privilege for the advancement and care of all people, particularly the most disadvantaged and underprivileged. Art therapists serve the most marginalized sect of our society, the mentally ill. We serve in ways that are respectful, gentle, kind and effective in empowering health and well-being. We bring the feminine principles everywhere we go. We live the tools and practices needed for all, to be balanced in this harsh and fear filled world.
What a calling! We are the change we wish to see.
This is our purpose, as I see it. This is our honor. This is our identity.
I pledge to do everything I can to live these principles as NMATA’s leader this year. I hope you can see, I do not do this work lightly, or without deep contemplation and care.
I want to hear from you. I want to see the things you can see, that I cannot.
I invite you to write us. NMATA has an amazing Board of Directors. These are strong, articulate women, who are here to serve you. You are invited to write to any or all of us.
Please consider attending our membership meetings, getting involved in shaping this organization, connecting with passionate art therapists for fun and support, but most important being active in our social service agenda. We will be creating alliance with like-minded state organizations this year. We will be visible in the legislature. We will be offering discounted CEUs to our membership. And we need to know where you think we should be active and involved.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and consider my opinions.
My wish is that these words have value in empowering your own personal process through these issues.
Lastly, thank you for boldly and authentically Being who You are,
For being the change, you wish to see.
A message from the Local Arrangements Committee:
November and the 48th annual American Art Therapy Conference; Art Therapy: Traversing Landscapes of the Heart and Mind, will be here before we know it. This is an exciting time to be a NMATA member! As the host chapter, we have an integral role in the conference planning and proceedings. From welcoming out of town conference guests to developing a community service project, along with the planning of special events, the Local Arrangements Committee (LAC) needs your creativity, energy and time! We will be devoting a portion of our April membership meeting to outline event specifics and form sub-committees. If you are unable to make the member meeting this Saturday, April 8th, don’t worry, you’ll have additional opportunities to get involved!
Please consider joining the LAC team. This is a great opportunity to showcase art therapy in New Mexico and the unique contributions New Mexico Art Therapists make to the profession. The AATA conference comes on the heels of our recent legislative progress, providing us with a platform for art therapy advocacy. Let’s continue the momentum through the conference and into the next legislative session in 2018!
Later this summer, NMATA will be hosting a workshop for those who wish to “Lend a Hand.” This will be your next opportunity to see committees at work, experience hands-on involvement and perhaps join a committee. In the meantime, if you are interested in hearing more about the LAC and you would like to join a sub-committee now, send an email to AATA2017LAC@gmail.com to get on the email list to receive the most up-to-date LAC information.
Wendy Wasserman, ATR, LMHC
LAC Chair, President-Elect, NMATA
SPRING IS HERE!
As the Earth begins to come alive again in this Spring Season, I invite us all to breath in renewed Life; stop and admire the flowers and the beauty; take time to fill ourselves with joy and a deep sense of being connected to nature cycles. Go outside and play!
Your NMATA Board continues to grow in our strengths and connections. The recent Legislative effort did not result in the passing of our bills, but it created the foundation for future successful passage. We learned a lot, achieved a lot, and feel really good about the whole process. And we are not giving up. At the membership meeting there will be a full review of the effort, our continued plans, an honoring of several key leaders in this effort, and information that is important for all of us to know. The support we received from all of you was AMAZING! It was a very gratifying effort and send out a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who participated!!!
We are preparing now for this first Membership Meeting of the year. And we urge you all to please make plans to attend! This meeting will be in Santa Fe with the next NMATA Membership Meeting to be held in ABQ September 9.
NMATA Membership Meeting
Date and Time: April 8, 2017, 10:30
Place: Board Member Nora Cassar’s Home @
7017 Vuelta Vistoso, Santa Fe
We will be providing a salad bar for lunch for all attendees.
We will start with relevant information about the legislative effort and present thank you gifts to those who lead the effort. From there we will move into the plans for AATA conference in Nov. There will be lots of other information including NMATA art therapy CEU offerings throughout the year. We will end with a circle of peer support and sharing that will include some art-making. Our intention for the meeting is to provide attendees with a full and rich experience and we look forward to connecting with you all. This is your professional organization and our intention as your board is to serve you and the profession in as many ways as we can imagine. (and we have really good imaginations!)
Take time to occasionally check-out our Website and Facebook page for updates and offerings of all kinds.
Mark you calendar for the next NMATA CEU Workshop presented by Lazaro Iglesias called Mixed Media and Assemblage. This promises to be a very rich and wonderful experience and give you tools to work with your own clients.
April 22, 1-4pm @ Valerie Valentine Studios, 1925 Aspen Dr #701-A.
We have so much to offer each other and hope that you will participate with NMATA in supporting the well-being of the planet . . . beginning with the well-being of ourselves through community. We hope that you will make NMATA part of your community.
See you at the Meeting!
Your NMATA Board of Directors
By: Alanna Sindlinger, MA, LMHC
As an art therapist, it is important to continue to create your own art and have your own practice of self care through art making and creativity. I am continuously contemplating how to strengthen and honor this practice in my personal life. As many art therapists choose to do, I started my journey with art therapy by going to art school first with a minor in psychology. Being an artist has been a central part of my identity. I will often say, I am an artist first and an art therapist second even though it doesn’t always feel that way.
Many of us struggle with our identities as artists and how we can continue to incorporate that very important part of ourselves into our very busy lives. Here is a list of ideas I have had in continuing this practice and the struggles that I have had with maintaining this practice.
- Process paintings over a period of time. Paint on a canvas once a week without developing a plan for the painting or concept except in the weekly sessions. These processes can have a focus on career/work or personal life.
- Write poetry
- Develop a series that continues to be an investigation throughout time.
- Do directives that I want to ask clients to do or that I do ask clients to do.
- Reflect on the day while creating a mandala.
- Conceptual work centered around my relationship to the environment and commentary on environmental issues.
- Write and illustrate Children’s books
- Cook beautiful food that is based off of recipes but made into my own style.
- Be inspired and follow through with a piece of art reflecting that inspiration.
- Design a garden or a space
- Pay attention to artist opportunities that I can be a part of.
Some of these IDEAS have never come into fruition but they are alive inside of me and the intention of following through is there. As artists, we have a different way of looking at the world, of perceiving the world, and of walking through the world.We tend to go against the grain and we often process our world a little uniquely as well. Instead of talking about it we may need to spend time in the studio with some paint and found objects to really describe and depict our inner thoughts and assessments about life, politics, culture, insights and our clients. As we ask our clients to explore themselves in a deep intimate process through the mediums of their choosing as should we be doing the same exploration of ourselves on a regular basis.
Below is an opportunity for artists residing in New Mexico to help keep the artist itch alive.
Project Intent TIME – Temporary Installations Made for the Environment – Edgewood
The Art in Public Places Program of New Mexico Arts, Route 66 Arts Alliance, and City of Edgewood seek to commission five temporary environmentally based artworks to be exhibited in various locations in Edgewood, New Mexico. The proposed artworks should relate to this year’s theme: “Persistence”
The strongest proposals will be for works which engage the temporary nature of this series of installations and relate strongly to the cultural and environmental histories of the area. Site-specific and ephemeral works are encouraged. Artwork should appeal to both local residents and visitors to the area. No artwork requiring concrete pads or other environmentally damaging approaches will be considered. At the agreed upon time of removal, the artist will return the installation site to its original condition, subject to the approval of the site representative. Media must be low maintenance, safe for both children and adults, ADA compliant, and not leave a permanent mark on the environment when removed.
Accepting Applications through April 13th 2017
For more information visit
Promoting Postive Self-Identity and Resilience through Art Making
OFFCenter invites everyone, free of charge, to experience creativity in the community in a welcoming, safe space with an abundance of materials of all kinds. OFFCenter strengthens the fabric of our community and improves quality of life for all participants, especially for those who would otherwise remain isolated and excluded. In addition to 25 free open studio hours every week, OFFCenter provides after school art, serves as a free community resource for numerous agencies assisting mentally and physically disabled people and also brings free art making experiences to community events as diverse as the International District Health Fair, Civic Plaza Kids Fest, CiQlovia, and the Downtown Grower’s Market.
Visit OFFCenter Gallery Shop. OFFCenter offers local artists more selling opportunities throughout the year in their low- commission Gallery Shop and “open to all” exhibitions. Come shop for beautifully handcrafted art, gifts and cards in the Gallery store this Holiday season and support local artists.
FREE WEEKLY WORKGROUPS – JUST WALK IN!
Writing Group – with Mandy Gardner –
Painting and Drawing – with Lynnette Haozous – Thursdays: 1-3pm
Card Making – with Karen Turner –
iCreate Guitar* – with Leslie Bailey –
iCreate Ukulele* – with Leslie Bailey –
Knitting & Crochet Circle – with Sybil Wertheim –
Saturdays: 11:30 – 1:30pm
OFFCenter is located in downtown Albuquerque at:
808 Park Avenue, SW
Albuquerque, NM, 87102
Check out their website for hours and other upcoming events!
Dr. Debbie Good and Lisa Graff have been working extraordinarily hard to support the success of Art Therapists in the State. They have a bill written that will eliminate discriminatory practices that do not allow professional Art Therapists to be reimbursed by Group Health Care Insurance Plans.
Senator Cisco McSorley has agreed to sponsor our bill.
THIS IS A BIG DEAL.
We have arranged this meeting to inform all stakeholders of the needs and next steps to support the successful passing of this important law. The legislative session runs January 17 – March 20 this year and we need to get organized and active now.
• Meeting Date: Tuesday, January 24, 2017
• Time: 5:30pm for refreshments; 6:00 – 7:00 for information, discussion, and volunteer sign-up
• Location: Large Art Classroom at Southwestern College
We have done the footwork and now WE NEED YOU! We need every one of the stakeholders in the art therapy profession to attend. This includes current art therapists, students, faculty, alumni, school officials, NMATA members, friends of NMATA, and consumers of art therapy; those who can testify to the power of this form of treatment. Please consider asking clients that you feel would be willing to testify, to attend this informational meeting.
Take the action to come, get informed, and involved!