When Obstacles Get In Your Way, Get Creative

Last week I was honored to have received a Next Generation Indie Author Finalists Award for my by debut Children's book Can We Play Again? It gave me an opportunity once again to talk about art therapy and all of its benefits alongside a great honor of recognition. Winning this award made me stop and think about how I started down this path in the first place.

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There have been a few times when my life hasn't gone as I had hoped or planned. Each time I found away to move forward. So when obstacles prevented me from pursuing my career, I used my creative ambition to move forward once again in a new direction. A few years ago, after moving to San Francisco from New York I found myself in a unique position. Due to the differences in state licenses, I was unable to practice Art Therapy for the time that I lived there. However, I wanted to make the time as productive as possible. I chose to use the time as a catalyst for pursing my passion for the creative arts in therapy and education in a new way. I began exploring on-line tutorials and attending workshops to learn more about graphic art and web design.

Upon returning back to New York, I had hoped to begin practicing art therapy again but unfortunately jobs were scarce at the time. So while I continued to look for a job, I pursued advancing my computer skills. In all honesty, it was frustrating but also exciting at the same time. Thankfully, what resulted was this website and Can We Play Again?

My new skills combined with my experiences as an art therapist influenced the creation of this website and my book. Since I couldn't find a full-time job in the field, I wanted to find away to share my knowledge and to inspire others in their creative endeavors. At the same time, I wanted to advocate for the creative arts, especially in therapy. Writing and illustrating my first book enabled me to accomplish this desire. Through my book, I created a useful resource for parents, teachers, and therapists.

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The purposes for the book were simple:
First, I wanted to bring greater awareness to the field of art therapy especially to parents and teachers. Through my work with children and their families, I witnessed the benefits of art therapy and believe that it could be of a great benefit to schools and students.

Secondly, I purposefully described art therapy in a simplified and non-threatening way so that children, parents, and educators could obtain a basic understanding of the process. I hoped that that the book would inspire more in depth conversations about the field's value.

Next, I intentionally chose to use a dog named Buddy as the narrator of the story to soften the delivery of information.

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I also chose to limit the visual elements of Chloe, who is Buddy’s owner and best friend. She is sad and needs help from the art therapist at her school. Since any child could be Chloe, I wanted to enable a broader reach and hoped character identification could be achieved by those who read the book. Therefore, Chloe was only displayed once as a silhouette.

Last, I wanted to give children the opportunity to talk and learn more about emotions. The book gives parents and teachers the opportunity to discuss feelings and various emotions depending on the age of the children.

So far, I have received wonderful feedback about how the book has been used. For instance, a few months after the book was published, I was excited to learn that a teacher used the book and the worksheets on the book's website as part of her lesson plan for introducing feelings to her kindergarten class. It was just one example of how my book has been used as I had hoped and intended.

I am thankful to everyone who has supported my book and my efforts. It has been a wonderful opportunity to promote art therapy and all of the its benefits.