Advocacy, American Art Therapy Association, Field of Art Therapy, Reflections, Values

A Message from our President: Valerie Valentine

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.

Field of Art Therapy, Legislation

SWC hosts important NMATA meeting about Legislation

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.

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!

American Art Therapy Association, CEU Offerings, Field of Art Therapy

Our Beautiful Garden Grows at Meow Wolf!

It seems like such a long time since I sat to write to you all.  It has been a full and challenging summer.  I find myself affected by a complex, ever-changing, and often heart-breaking world condition, as we all do; I am sure.  In this time of incredible transformation and challenge, it is imperative that we all hold to the things that feed our souls. I trust that our creative work that supports the well-being and health of our clients and our communities does make a difference, and that feeds my soul.  I appreciate each and everyone of you on the deepest levels.  We at NMATA endeavor to continue to provide an anchor and a place for all of us in this profession to be supported.

The AATA conference in Baltimore was incredibly empowering in this way.  To hear Bruce Moon speak of Love in our profession was truly inspiring.  To see presentations about the founders and leaders of Art Therapy validated the intention, power, and incredible value of the work we do.  To listen to art therapists from all over the world talking about the healing they facilitate, expanded vision and soothed the heart.  I am so excited that we, in New Mexico, get to host this amazing conference next year.
What an honor and a gift!!

I want to encourage you all to consider presenting your work at the AATA Conference 2017 and fully participating in any way you can.  As the hosting State there will be plenty to do, and the pay off is amazing.  You will connect and learn and be fed soul food to walk away nourished and stronger and clear about the power of the work you do.  NMATA will be presenting a CEU workshop, Professional Presentation, October 8 from 1pm-4pm for 3 CEU’s to support us all in how to present our work and the submission process for AATA.  The charge will be only $30 for members.  We hope to get as many of you as we can reach to get inspired and informed about Professional Presentation Process.  Mark you calendars and contact me directly to sign-up.  We will determine location after we see where the majority of interested people are located.  More details at the Membership Meeting…

Take note of the Membership Meeting in September to be in Santa Fe.  We are alternating quarterly between SF and ABQ.  You are all invited to attend, participate, and benefit!  We are doing a variety of work to advocate for all of us, including legislatively.  Come and get informed!!!

I invite you all to contact me directly any time, with questions, ideas, or needs.  Please know it is my joy to be available to you.  Hope to see you all in September!

Field of Art Therapy

The Honoring of Dr. Deborah Good at NMATA’s Member Meeting: June 11, 2016 in Albuquerque, NM

Beautiful Day at our membership meeting on Saturday, 6/11/16, the New Mexico Art Therapy Association held a luncheon in honor of Dr. Deborah Good. Current NMATA president, Valerie Valentine, presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to Deborah for her many contributions to art therapy in New Mexico. The award was presented with assistance by special guest, Little Miss New Mexico 2016, Jana-Lisa Botello, an aspiring art therapist.

Field of Art Therapy, NMATA Membership, Uncategorized

NMATA Membership Meeting in ABQ: June 11th at 10:30 AM, 2489 Elfego Rd NW.

Everyone is Invited!!
We will be awarding Dr. Deborah Good the Life Time Achievement Award,
she so richly deserves!

Even if you have let your membership lapse, please attend.  Of course, we want you back, but more important we want to support and grow the art therapist community in New Mexico.  We, also, wish to fully honor Deborah.  Your attendance is encouraged, welcomed and appreciated.

We will start the meeting at 10:30 with some updates about what NMATA has been up to and what we are planning for the next year.  Because of the AATA Conference next year, we are trying hard to gather the experience and knowledge from all the art therapists in our state as high-light for the 900-1100 art therapists projected to descend on our state from all over the world.  We are trusting many of you in ABQ will want to be involved and this is a great way to begin the process.

We have been approached by Little Miss New Mexico, who wants to be an art therapist, and we have invited her to the meeting Saturday.  She will be presenting the award to Dr. Debbie, which promises to be delightful.

Dr. Good has agreed to create a display of some of her accomplishments for us to enjoy.  Her career is truly inspiring as is her lovely presence.  Please consider coming to help in the honoring of this pioneer.

We will end with lunch for everyone (salads and cake)  and time to socialize and connect within a beautiful, warm, and lush home garden.  We anticipate closing by 1:00.   It promises to be a wonderful event and Everyone is Invited!!!

PS:  If you have any small and light pieces of art you would not mind donating to NMATA please bring them to the meeting.  We will be taking them to the AATA conference in Baltimore this year as we invite everyone to come to ABQ next year.  Thank you for considering and donating.

Directions to the Meeting:

1.    From I-40 going West towards Gallup.
2.     Stay on I-40 West and exit on Rio Grande Blvd.
3.     Turn right and go north on Rio Grande Blvd.
4.     Stay on Rio Grande Blvd. past the stop light at Candelaria.
5.     Elfego is 2 blocks before the second stop light at Griegos
6.     Look for a white sign on the right side of Rio Grande Blvd. that reads “Lohman Harley Davidson.”  Elfego Road is across the street from this sign.
7.    Turn left on Elfego from Rio Grande Blvd
8.    Go 1 block and then turn left at the “T” intersection
9.    Follow Elfego around the corner as it turns to the west.  The house is 2nd on the right hand side, 2489, before the ditch; it has a circular driveway and 3 tall windows facing the street.

  1.  From I 25 going South from Santa Fe exit Comanche/Griegos.
  2. Turn right (West) at the end of the ramp.   Take Griegos to Rio Grande – past all the # streets
  3. Turn left (South) at the Rio Grande light.
  4. Get in the far right lane.Elfego is the 2nd right.  It comes up quickly and is directly across the street from the Loman Motors sign.
  5. Turn right (west) and then left at the T after 1 block.  After the curve, count to the 2nd house on the right – 1.2 circle driveway and a copper mailbox, 2489 Elfego.

Any problems finding it, call me at 505-577-2469; or call anytime with any questions!

American Art Therapy Association, CEU Offerings, Community Outreach, Field of Art Therapy, NMATA Membership

March 2015: Creative Renewal

Wow – opportunities are springing up all over the place for NMATA! We are building a creative community faster then ever and are so grateful to have the support from a diverse group of organizations that believe in the healing power of art. Last month we met with the curator of the CCA (Center for Contemporary Arts) as well as the event organizer for MIX Santa Fe. We will also be collaborating with (OGD) Only Green Design on some fun installations at Warehouse 21 this month. We hope to have some interactive booths at both AHA Festival and at the Farmers Market this year. Lots of ideas are being generated within the arts communities as well as the mental health arenas. We plan to once again be a part of the Million Day March against Child Abuse on the Plaza this April.

As usual we have several upcoming workshops being offered through Southwestern College – so many of their alumni make up our community for which we are very grateful. Please join us for our Divination & Fashion Art Therapy workshop as well as our next member meeting and introduction to the Enneagram as a therapeutic tool at Sandi Wright’s house.

As spring approaches, I look forward to a time of renewal, refreshment and re-imaging our future. What imaginal buds are taking shape in your life? What winter dreams are yearning to manifest in your life this spring? May we all take part in the cultivation of energy within our community. We would love to hear what visions you have for our local chapter and what you hope to see for the future of art therapy. We are looking for living angels to back us financially so that we can send our board members to the AATA Conference this year as well as educate and advocate for our field more effectively. It is our dream to bring art therapy into the public schools, hospitals and across the globe as we believe it starts at home, with a few like-minded individuals like you and me and of course some creative energy!

American Art Therapy Association, Field of Art Therapy, Legislation, NMATA Board, NMATA Membership, Uncategorized

January 2015: Soul Art


Welcome to #NMATA : your resource center for all things Art Therapy in New Mexico. Our January theme is Soul Art. Follow this theme with us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter and #NMATA, like and share. We intend to have a stronger presence than ever this year and you are what will fuel our evolution so tell us what you want out of your NM Art Therapy Association!

Here you can find out what offerings we have, where events are happening and who’s who in the Mexico of New! Please visit NMATA’s website to see a listing of events and to find local therapists, supervisors and continuing education offerings. This is the place where creativity and community come together! Join us for monthly workshops and members meetings, which are held seasonally, get CEC’s, network with like-minded individuals, propose an event, volunteer your services, have fun and make art with us! We hope to see you at one of our low-cost monthly workshops. Volunteer to assist and get in free. Join NMATA now for upcoming offerings and a wealth of opportunities to catalyze your professional presence!

The next workshop will be an introduction to SoulCollage, an archetypal approach to accessing the subconscious and getting to know your other-worldly allies and guides. Facilitated by Stephanie Murphy, LMHC and certified SoulCollage facilitator since 2007, and Alicia Justin, PhD will lead you into a creative exploration on Sunday, February 1st, 12-4pm . It will be held at Southwestern College in Santa Fe. Email an RSVP to and hold your spot today! 3 CEC’s $10/Lunch will be provided. Want to get in free? Ask to assist, must be NMATA member.

The next member meeting & workshop will be held on Sunday, March 22nd at Santa Fe local Art Therapist, Sandi Wright’s home studio where we will explore her specialty using Art Therapy with Traumatic Brain Injury, especially those with loss of sight. 3 CEC’s $10/RSVP or ask to assist if you are a NMATA member: Food and art materials provided!

Meet our new 2015 Board of Directors:

President: Heather Wulfers, ATR-BC, LPAT, LPCC

Secretary: Wendy Wasserman, MA, LMHC

Treasurer: Amy Griffin, MA, LMHC, ATR

Student Board Member: Christina Villareal

2015 is an exciting time for Art Therapy in New Mexico. We are closer than ever to securing third party reimbursement for our practitioners with an LPAT (Professional Art Therapist License) thanks primarily to Deborah Good, among others throughout the years. It’s been a long road but we are optimistic and could use your support. Let us know if you want to be on the phone tree to help out come legislation lobbying time. We need bodies to be present downtown to ensure our success!

Did you know Southwestern College Counseling Center has a list of groups being offered right now for clients to experience group Art Therapy at low cost? See our listing here or call (505) 471-8575 to hear more and get registered.

Also don’t miss our Red Cross training coming this spring for Art Therapists interested in being part of an on-call mobile team providing trauma response AT services to our community.

I am excited to be involved with a program designer interested in developing Art Therapy Apps for iPad and the iPhone. On that note, check out Jeanne Park’s new Art Therapy Assessment: MSSP (Multi-Sensory Stimulus Pictures) on the iPad – exciting research being done there. I saw her present at last year’s AATA Conference and it is very well designed and she could use our help expanding her research.

I am also looking forward to partnering with Meow Wolf and getting NMATA established in the new studio spaces being designed in the renovated bowling alley. What a cool community event space that will be! Imagine the art shows, fashion therapy, and creative installation possibilities for artists, clients and therapists alike.

Of course, don’t forget to register early for AATA’s Conference being held in Minneapolis this summer – should be an amazing location and it is always an invigorating experience to immerse yourself in the field of creative therapists.

Art Making, Field of Art Therapy

Art Therapy Supervision by Magdalena Karlick



As an Art Therapist, I know that the art process is an important container. As a supervisor, I like to weave in art making and sand tray work in supervision, to articulate client and agency issues and express the multi-dimensional experience that a new therapist has.

Katelyn did her practicum and internship at a jail, working with adult inmates who were locked up anywhere from a few days to a few years. She learned about many different cultures and power dynamics through immersion.  As a way to end our supervisory relationship, and to contain the ending of her internship, Katelyn created a collage out of art that she made with clients and a few pieces that she was given.




We reflected on the change of her trees over the course of internship, signifying her personal states as well as those of her clients.



Throughout the art-making process, Katelyn quietly reflected on her experience with certain clients, and what was happening while she was creating art with them.  It is beautiful how our art can hold so many memories, both of the moments in which the art was made, as well as the personal associations that our mind and body connects.


Katelyn has successfully graduated from Southwestern College, and is currently working as a therapist at an agency in Santa Fe.


Counseling, Field of Art Therapy, Reflections

What is Consciousness-Centered Practice?

7940995Blog and images by Laura L. Lansrud-López

Do art therapy and counseling belong together? This question has come to my attention recently and, in some forums, is hotly discussed. I myself hold an Art Therapy / Counseling degree and hold dual licenses as a clinical counselor and professional art therapist in NM.

Does this mean I have a split personality? Oh, and I use Sandplay therapy, perhaps making the picture more confusing.

I’ve been pondering the question of how, and to what degree, the two fields “should” be separated. Is counseling trying to “gobble up” art therapy? Does art therapy, as a field, need to scratch and claw its way to “independence” from counseling? I work with clients every day and some weekends in my private practice. Sometimes we make art, sometimes my clients play in the sand, sometimes I just listen, sometimes we work on mindfulness, or practice skills for emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal communication.

When I reflect on what it is I do in therapy – is it Art Therapy? Is it Counseling? Is it Sandplay? – I’m left with the clarity that what I do, what I try to do in every session is attune to the person with me, listen deeply for what is needed in the moment, provide an environment for his or her Authentic Self to emerge, and then witness, reflect, and delight in that emergence.

The work isn’t easy, there are many things in myself, the relationship, and the art work or image created to track and bring to consciousness. My education in theory, ethics, and my experience in the therapeutic use of art and honoring the image, forms structure around us. But the foundation of my work is the act of bringing my highest consciousness, my own Authentic Self, into the room with full attention. My listening occurs on multiple levels: the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. In attunement, there is safety, and in safety the psyche can heal itself. (My preferred metaphors come from interpersonal neurobiology and trauma informed care, but that’s for another blog).





Whether we make art, play, talk, or work on skills follows naturally from listening deeply for what is NEEDED by my client in the moment; it is not imposed ON the moment by my self-identity as an Art Therapist or Counselor. To me, this is Consciousness-Centered Art Therapy and Counseling. As I’ve pondered the question of the differences between the two fields the past week, I’m reminded of Rumi’s quote:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.”
                                                       – Rumi


I welcome enriching dialogue about how other’s practice Art Therapy, use creativity in counseling, or incorporate the expressive arts into their therapeutic work with others.