Art Making, CEU Offerings, Mindfulness, NMATA Membership, Self-Love / Self-Care

Recap, Reflection from ‘Core Art Therapy Directives’ Workshop (4/7/18)

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,

Alanna Burke-Sindlinger
Workshop Co-Facilitator, NMATA President Elect


Art Making, Mandala, Mindfulness, Self-Love / Self-Care

Mindfulness through Daily Mandala Practice

1361542566by Michelle Daly, LPCC, ATR

Cultivating mindfulness through mandala-making has been a gift and a teacher for me.

I begin each day with the creation of a mandala that evokes intention for the day, and I end each day creating a mandala image that incorporates expression of gratitude. This ongoing practice seems to enhance and deepen mindfulness. It is with an open heart and mind that I journey through each day, and in relation to this practice. I wonder what is to come, staying mindful and deeply grateful for the integrative ways this process touches my life. It is part of me; I am part of it. We are in relationship.


This relationship assists me with conservation of internal focus and clarity while supporting openness and receptivity to that which is – day after day. I am grateful to all who have supported me in this process – and to those who have not. For, it is through this reflection that I deepen into inner wisdom and practice movement toward depth of center, expansion, and wholeness while also maintaining solid ground and stillness within. This is a practice that helps me to integrate that which comes into my field – moment to moment. This meditative practice has nurtured and nourished me in difficult times, helped me to gain clarity and understanding in the face of challenging, confusing and chaotic times while also allowing me to loosen up as I encounter rigid patterns, tense moments or situations.


As I reflect upon this ongoing practice of daily self-care, currently a ritual to open and close each day, I appreciate the depth by which this mandala practice continues to serve me and supports me in serving others in a more authentic, centered present way.