Monday, April 18, 2016.  How strange, yet I guess I am not surprised.  Thoughts and feelings about my “art therapist self-hood” are reawakened by having heard yesterday from the “play therapist” contacting me for some training I offered to share with her (as I mentioned in my previous post).

There could not have been a profession I could have chosen and worked for my master’s degree in that could possibly have been any closer to my heart-of-hearts, to who I am in my essence.  In fact, it is even the one my grandmother – a career psychologist specializing in helping people choose their correct careers (my mother’s mother) – gave me the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory text when I was 11 or 12 and from those results predicted that I would be most successful and happiest as – an art therapist!!

The career field did not exist when Grandmother gave me that test with her recommendations.  I had not read that report for over 20 years until I found it again while I was IN my art therapy graduate program (University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, 1989-1991).  Yes, this was more than a little eerie of a discovery to me at that time!


So, what really happens to us over the loss of something like this that means so much to us?  My hopes did not really work out over the long haul for myself with art therapy as a profession – for many, many reasons, none of which I could really control.  (The Serenity Prayer comes to mind here.)

At this moment I am greatly wishing I had someone in my life to have an actual conversation with about these matters.  But I don’t.  So I am writing here….

Although I have retained my national Art Therapist registration, which is a credential that can only be obtained by pursuing such a master’s degree along with meeting all the supervision requirements, this certification is for the most part truly “useless” and “worthless” in American society today.  VERY few states have gone through a process to get approval for licensure specifically for art therapists, so ANYONE, literally, can claim to “do art therapy” or to “be an art therapist.”

There is NO protection for the profession.

To me this is no different from a situation where someone who has a pair of pliers handy can claim to be a dentist.

Is this a dangerous situation for the public?  I would say yes – with a but….

I am SO good at what I do I completely understand and accept the responsibility that goes along with the incredible POWER that art therapy, accomplished by a trained, skilled and gifted Art Therapist can have.

BUT!  Given that so few people actually HAVE these qualifications, I would say that the danger to the public is greatly lessened simply because without the qualifications the power is all but gone.  I am not sure there is any more risk than there would be with a teacher “doing art work” with kindergartners.

Sad to me, really, in so many, many ways.  No wonder this feels like a longing has been tapped, touched, reawakened!

BUT!  This is reality.  Just as my grandmother was decades ahead of her time even in her recognition of my aptitude for such a profession, and in her actually NAMING a profession that did not yet exist (and so barely even does now over 50 years later), the entire field of art therapy is so far ahead of the curve it is well over an invisible horizon and may not actually appear until hundreds of years from now.

I have known for many years that given the chance to do four “evaluative” art therapy sessions would provide such depth, breadth and truth of a client’s life that a regular therapist could spend a year working through the information I could provide them about their client.

I would NEVER have the patience to do the “working through” with a client that ongoing therapy actually requires, although I know there are some art therapists who CAN do that.

That’s not my niche.  Oh well………  Off I would go in that “missing conversation with nobody out there” that I am longing to have right now about these things!


So why would I agree to “train” someone in any aspect of art therapy?  How do I do so fairly given these reservations that I obviously so strongly hold in my mind and heart?

Good question!


I believe in spiritual guidance and I strongly suspect that there is nothing accidental in what is going to happen soon with this “play therapist” as we talk and work together.  I am completely aware that the Creator I am completely comfortable with calling God has plans in this world that I do not – and probably cannot possibly – understand.

It is not my place to question these kinds of situations when they show up.  It is my place to listen to my own heart and to act according to its guidance.

Of course I was quite sure that’s what I was doing 1989-1991 when I got this degree in the first place.  As I look back into my life as a child, to MY LIFE, my OWN (yes, completely-hidden-from-my-abusive-mother) life I see art therapy me all the way back to when I was two years old.  My training was for my soul.  Nobody can ever take that away from me.

Yet I do struggle not to take this part of who I am away from myself!  This is me!  All these abilities along with everything that honed them, belongs to me!  To do with as I choose.

No, I cannot make ART matter in this so-sick and getting sicker materialistic, nonorganic culture I live within.  I cannot change that drugging hurting people is so much more of a popular solution that actually helping them to heal is.  I can’t change these things.

But when I encounter a “play therapist” whose path has crossed my own, who expresses interest and desire to add “art therapy” skills into her bag of tricks….

I am not going to say no.  And, just possibly, some of this woman’s clients may benefit in very special ways from this woman’s administrations of healing as they will carry some part of what I can so capably teach her.


Do all the words I just wrote take away or diminish this very special ache in my art therapist heart?


Oh well.  Life goes on.  I do what I have always done.  My part.  In the best way that I can manage to do it.

I expect that there will be some joy for me in this teaching opportunity.  I LOVE this work!  “Play therapist” lady will get a mega dose of training if she is sincerely up for it.  I am hoping we will be able to record the audio of our sessions, or classes, or whatever these will be.

For my part, there is an art therapist part of me that lies dormant –  quietly – not asserting anything about what cannot be changed.  I don’t know how I used to think about the process of “letting go” but I am very clear what image (ah, images, the life of life) I have now when such times come to me.

My hand held nearly open, palm upward, with a flower bud in the center.  I slowly and without any stress in my fingers spread my fingertips apart as I imagine this flower bud slowly opening to the fullness of its beauty.

Often the image of the flower is of a lotus blossom, but sometimes it is of a waterlily.  Whatever gorgeous flower is there upon my palm, I do not crush it.  I let it open to its own life, as I try yet again to set whatever troubles me — free.


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Tags: adult attachment disordersadult reactive attachment disorderanxiety disorders,borderline motherborderline personality disorderbrain developmentchild abuse,depression,derealizationdisorganized disoriented insecure attachment disorder,dissociation,dissociative identity disorderempathyinfant abusePosttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),protective factorsPTSDresiliencyresiliency factorsrisk factorsshame



  1. Ha – my ps to this post!

    when I mentioned my grandmother in this last post – as I stand peeling potatoes at the sink

    she should have SEEN WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME!!


    to heck with any nostalgia about that woman – I mean, really, Linda!!!!!

    I would not be all messed up with this trauma altered development poverty disability NOW if SOMEONE had HELPED ME, Susan!

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