An Art Therapist’s Identity

Is an art therapist an artist, therapist, or a writer?  Do they work alone or do they work with people?  Why would an artist become an art therapist or why would a therapist, (or  counselor or social worker for that matter) become an art therapist?

As I mull over what the focus of today’s blog should be, I realize I am not one single thing.  I have many facets to my identity.  We art therapists, as a community, function in many different settings.  For example, we can function as a primary therapist or an adjunct therapist; or,  we create art, and help others create art while expressing their thoughts and feelings through their art.

After 20 years in the field and writing two books, I felt a need to focus on my own creative process and create art.  I have had to learn a lot of new skills as an artist.  When I paint now I begin to think more as an artist while also looking at the process as an art therapist.  I have dedicated my paintings in which I use traditional art techniques, old saris and art from countries I have visited, to the effort and lives of those artists who have over the years created wonderful everyday pieces of art that we so often take for granted.

Family - fabric art


 By using old saris, I hope to capture a piece of history that could be lost for ever.  For example, this painting I created from my mother’s old wedding sari that was tearing. It is over 50 years old.  I call this painting “The Family” because each family has a story to tell, just like this fabric that has its own story.

 While I work as an artist, I am also building a private practice to bring art therapy to my community here in Fairfax, Virginia as well as to to find ways to create opportunities for learning about art therapy in India.  I have plans to organize several conferences/workshops next year.  A key first step towards this is to create an art discussion forum in India so expressive therapists could come together and share their work and see how we could collectively develop the field of art therapy in India.

 I invite you to share your thoughts and opinions on this blog – as an artist, art therapist or person who uses art therapeutically, or just as an interested person.  Please share your own art, but please, no art created in a therapy session.

 Let’s begin the dialogue on our identity as an art therapist. Looking forward to hearing from you!