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Art Therapy at Home

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

As we find ourselves more at home, we obviously have found that everything we do day to day has been thrown out of balance. Schedules, finances, routines, and even mental spaces are under the pressure of change and uncertainty. Work has been divided into what is essential and non-essential. But at home, we may be finding that things we did not put much emphasis on before are becoming far more essential in this environment. Most days I have found myself talking with my dear friend who reminds me the importance of taking time for yourself, your mental wellness and to ask: what is it that I need?

Luckily this friend is Philadelphia based art therapist Michaela Herr ( and according to her, creating art for our spaces can be just what we need - rejuvenating, cleansing, and generative. Michaela's practice has been developed over many years and is centered around the idea that not only can anyone create art, but that this practice allows us to interact in a wholly new way with the world.

With the added emotional and financial strain of our lives right now, art therapy can be a powerful tool to practice and develop for ourselves (more information and research can be found here).

Since she is unable to work from her office, Michaela is now offering virtual therapy sessions to practice art and create right from your homes. We know that there can be a self-imposed pressure during this quarantine to be excessively productive. But again, in asking what you need - this may truly just be the time to process, escape, or imagine. Rather than being a push to be productive, creating art can be a chance to let go, do something completely different, and maybe even have something beautiful to enhance your space.

Check out Michaela's introduction to this artful opportunity:

Create your own studio and art at home - Here some materials you might want (but it can be anything crafty on hand):

- acrylic paints; here's my favorite set, as well as a smaller set here

- canvas or heavy stock paper

- water colors, pastels, markers, crayons, colored pencils

- brushes, cup of water, napkins or sponges

- magazines

- scissors

- liquid glue

"Art breaks up, shakes, and shifts the way we interact with thoughts, beliefs, challenges, emotions, ourselves, the world." - Michaela Herr, ATR-BC, LPC

Here's Michaela's finished product below. In her practice, Michaela emphases how sometimes we need to make our thoughts and emotions tangible. Art allows us to feel, translate, and generate visibly.

What makes Michaela's work such a perfect pairing with mine is the focus on wellness and beauty. While art therapy and interior design might seem to be disparate fields, we actual share so many of the same philosophies. Being mindful about what one needs is the center of how I work with my clients, creating a space that complements their families, lifestyles, and goals. Michaela asks us to do the same thing now - focus on how we might need to slow down and center - and art can be that vehicle. I love that this process also allows you to put something into the world and perhaps onto the walls of your space, creating even more peace.

Below, you can see my process, complete with a tarot card reading, rose quartz and sage... (this deck is amazing and was recommended to me by local body worker, Shakti).

These days when I ask myself what I need, usually it is to finish Season 2 of Ozark and nap with Otto, but I was glad I stepped away for an hour to try this activity and not stare at a screen.

The myriad of emotions we feel can find expression and release in "lines, shapes and colors" on the canvas. Try it out yourself if you have the materials at home! Find a space and surround yourself with your favorite things to create an open energy.

I also just read this in Glennon Doyle's new book "Untamed" and wanted to share, as I felt it may be helpful when thinking about what "art" means to you:

" Good art originates not from the desire to show off but from the desire to show yourself. Good art always comes from our desperate desire to breath, to be seen, to be loved. In everyday life, we are used to seeing only the shiny outer layer of folks. Art makes us less lonely because it always comes from the desperate center of the artist - and each of our centers is desperate. That's why good art is such a relief." (p, 253, Untamed)

Keep an eye out for more collaborations that Michaela and I will be hosting together in the future!


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