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, Reflections, Self-Love / Self-Care

The Art Itch

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
  • Dance
  • 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”

Project Intent
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
TIME: Edgewood

Art Making, Self-Love / Self-Care

May 2015: Art in Bloom

This month we invite you to unfold those petals covering up your creativity and open up to new forms of beauty. How do we stay fresh and inspired with so many demands on our daily lives? How can we remove those obstacles in the way of our true expressions? How do you make space for yourself and give room to renew? This is where the process of art-making becomes essential to our self-care. Creating beauty is not a luxury, rather a vital part of who we are. We are creators. We create our futures, our dreams, our relationships and our careers. How are you making the world a more beautiful place? Let’s color in our lives together and create community everyday. Thank you for participating in the mosaic that is New Mexico!

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.