Introducing Our 2017 Conference Speakers: David Read Johnson and Marni Rosen

Throughout the month of July we have been introducing our guest speakers for the 2017 Annual Conference, Creative Arts Therapies: Innovation and Integration.  We’ve heard about the work of Karen Gibbons, Jennifer Tantia, and Julie Lipson in previous blog posts.  This week we hear from David Read Johnson and Marni Rosen:

Marni Rosen, PsyD, ATR-BC

Dr. David Johnson and I set out on a journey several years ago to integrate a theory of drama therapy into art therapy. With the understanding that the basic principles of creativity and play underlie any art form, we could  boil down the principles of one form of art making to apply it to another. If we can identify the raw principles of art making (art, music, drama, or dance) then all the modalities are more integrated and related. Since this pursuit with David, I have been passionate about the integration of creative arts therapies. Through my position at the Institute for Therapy through the Arts (ITA) in Chicago, I have initiated and planned an annual Integrated Creative Arts Therapy conference which is now on its 3rd annual cycle.

David Read Johnson, PhD, RDT-BCT


This conference provides the opportunity for CAT’s to discuss their work across modality and learn from their collective CAT peers. Personally, my current project is furthering ITA’s intake assessment process, which assesses goodness of fit of modality for each incoming client. It’s been an ongoing privilege at ITA to work, consult, and train amongst all 4 modalities and across all 4 modalities.

Dr. Marni Rosen, Psy.D ATR-BC is the Practice Manager, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, and Board Certified Art Therapist at the Institute for Therapy through the Arts. The Institute for Therapy through the Arts is an integrated Creative Arts therapy center that offers all 4 arts modalities: art, music, drama, and dance/movement. She completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Posttraumatic Stress Center in New Haven, CT and was a research assistant at Yale University studying the impact of trauma on the narrative of Holocaust survivors. She is a supervisor, consultant, and trainer on trauma informed psychotherapy and art therapy in addition to a published author of several articles including Adlerian Art Therapy with Survivors of Sexual Assault in the Journal of Individual Psychology and Developmental Transformation Art Therapy in the American Art Therapy Association journal.

David Read Johnson, Ph.D., RDT-BCT is Director of the Institute for Developmental Transformations; Co-Director, Post Traumatic Stress Center, New Haven, CT; and Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine.  He has been a leading figure in the creative arts therapies and has published numerous articles and books on the treatment of psychological trauma, drama therapy, and the creative arts therapies.

If you haven’t already done so, please register in advance for the 2017 Conference!

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Introducing Our 2017 Conference Speakers: Julie Lipson

In preparation for our 2017 Annual Conference, scheduled for September 8, 2017, we asked our guest speakers to share some information about their work and how it relates to the conference theme of innovation and integration.  We’ve heard already from Karen Gibbons and Jennifer Tantia in previous blog posts.  This week we introduce Julie Lipson, who discusses her work as a music therapist:

Julie Lipson, MA, MT-BC

My work feels innovative when clients start expressing their thoughts and feelings in a new way. Many clients experience this right away, after originally contacting me because talk therapy hasn’t been working for them. Drumming, singing a meaningful song, or creatively coming into contact with instruments can provide deep, fruitful experiences during which clients articulate their inner world in ways they may have never expected. It is this insight–seeing or hearing the self– which inevitably invites integration into the work. As they see themselves creating something new, even as the material stays constant, clients realize parts of themselves that can now be welcomed in as integrated parts of the whole self.


Julie Lipson, MA, MT-BC

Julie Lipson is a board-certified music therapist, folk-rock musician, and Camp Director.  She provides music therapy to groups and individuals in the greater Philadelphia area.  Julie owns Inner Rhythms Music and Therapy Center, which offers music lessons, music therapy, and affordable event space to the local community.  She is also a director at Camp Aranu’tiq, the summer camp for transgender youth.

Register today for the 2017 Annual Conference.

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Build Break Rebuild: Reception July 28, 6-8pm

Please join us in celebrating our MPS Art Therapy Summer Alumni Residency!

Build Break Rebuild:

Closing Reception: Friday, July 28, 6-8pm

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Introducing Our 2017 Conference Speakers: Jennifer Tantia

Our 2017 Annual Conference, Creative Arts Therapies: Innovation and Integration, is approaching on September 8, 2017, and we are using the summer to introduce our panelists.  We will feature one guest speaker a week.  Last week Karen Gibbons wrote about her use of yoga and art therapy.  This week, Jennifer Tantia discusses her work in dance/movement therapy and how she finds adaptability in the creative arts therapies to be innovative:

Jennifer Tantia, PhD, MS, BC-DMT, LCAT

As Creative Arts Therapists, innovation in our work lies in the ability to adapt with the changing times. Technology, politics, and the many ways in which we can now work world-wide gives us new challenges and opportunities to grow the ways in which our work can meet new needs as they arise. Our sensitivity to specific cultural needs during natural disasters; ability to adapt to the new “diagnoses” emerging from technological overload and the ability to remain open to new suffering that may arise as a result of the unpredictable, tumultuous and chaotic current political climate in which we live, gives us the opportunity to grow as mental health practitioners as well as continue to allow our work to grow with these changes.

For instance, more adult professionals (like you and me!) are seeking out creative arts therapy as a way to understand themselves and live in their relationships more deeply. Due to the vast information on the internet and in the zeitgeist of body/mind integrative awareness, they are seeking “more” than talk therapy to work through anxiety, depression and other suffering. However, most masters’ programs in the US are designed to teach students to work with more severely mentally ill patients. It is up to those of us who work with adults outside of the psychiatric unit to integrate what we already know to evolve our interventions to meet the needs of emerging populations.

Jennifer Frank Tantia, PhD, MS, BC-DMT, LCAT is a somatic psychologist and dance/movement therapist in private practice in Manhattan, specializing in anxiety disorders and medically unexplained symptoms. She is part of the research faculty at Lesley University and specializes in embodied research. Dr. Tantia currently serves on the board of the American Dance Therapy Association as chair of Research and Practice, and is an associate editor of the journal, Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy. Dr. Tantia teaches internationally and has authored several publications in both dance/movement therapy and somatic psychology. Her forthcoming edited book, Embodied Perspectives in Psychotherapy, focuses on the many ways in which embodiment is addressed and integrated into the psychotherapeutic process.

Stay tuned for more information about our guest speakers!

Register for our 2017 Annual Conference today.

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Introducing Our 2017 Conference Speakers: Karen Gibbons

In preparation for our 2017 Annual Conference, taking place on September 8, 2017, we asked our guest speakers to introduce themselves and say a bit about their work.  We’ll be posting about each of them, one at a time, on a weekly basis throughout the summer.  Up first, Karen Gibbons discusses her work with art therapy and yoga, and how her work relates to the conference theme of innovation and integration:


Karen Gibbons, LCAT, ATR-BC

The practice of art therapy is one where the ability to integrate and innovate is important. Reflecting on the theme of the conference, it seems to me that integration IS innovation.   There was a time when integrating art with psychotherapy was innovative. The field of art therapy came about because of the innovation of its pioneers, and the particular benefits associated with their novel approach.

For the conference, I will be talking about my work integrating yoga and art therapy. I was originally inspired to do this when I was a student at SVA. I wrote my thesis on this topic because as an art therapy student and a newly minted yoga teacher, I realized that yoga and art therapy had a similar goals: enhancing self-awareness. Combining the two seemed exciting and promising.  I was optimistic that my thesis findings would be successful because, in a sense, integration was not innovative at all, but common sense. For someone trained in both areas, I wanted to have the healing qualities of yoga and art available in order to provide the best possible treatment for my clients.

Perhaps the innovation comes from being willing to take on the novelty of an integrative approach.  The reason I wrote a book about my approach using yoga and art was to show how accessible innovation and integration can be, and to create a tool to share my approach with others.

Karen Gibbons, ATR-BC, LCAT, PYT

Karen Gibbons is a board certified and NY State licensed art therapist. She completed her MPS at the School of Visual Arts in 2005.  She is also a registered yoga teacher, and in 2013 completed Integrative Yoga Therapy’s (IYT) Professional Yoga Therapist certification. Karen has worked with varied populations including children in schools, people who are mentally ill/chemically addicted, and court involved youth.  Currently Karen is working in private practice and running groups for several non-profits focusing on her specialty, combining yoga with art therapy. Karen’s 2015 book on the topic is titled Integrating Art Therapy and Yoga Therapy; Yoga, Art and the Use of Intention.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more information on our guest speakers.

Register now for the 2017 Conference.

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SAVE THE DATE: SVA MPS Art Therapy 2017 Annual Conference, September 8, 2017

SVA MPS Art Therapy 2017 Annual Conference:

Creative Arts Therapies: Innovation and Integration

September 8, 2017


SVA Theatre

333 West 23rd Street, NYC

Therapists from different modalities will discuss innovative methodologies that integrate creative arts therapies.  Featuring presentations and a panel discussion.

Guest Speakers:

Karen Gibbons, MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT, Art Therapist

David Read Johnson, PhD, Drama Therapist

Julie Lipson, MA, MT-BC, Music Therapist

Marni Rosen, PsyD, ATR, Art Therapist

Jennifer Tantia, PhD, BC-DMT, LCAT, Dance Therapist

Panel Moderator:

Eileen McGann, MA, ATR-BC, LCAT, Art Therapist

Please register in advance

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MPS Art Therapy Philosophy of Space

The MPS Art Therapy Department is housed in an expansive, newly renovated space, that includes an open studio with an observation area for the training of students.  This studio, as well as the classrooms, are designed and operated based on the humanistic philosophy that art therapy and art therapy training should be a collaboration mediated by artistic processes and human interaction.  It models Carl Jung’s concept of an ‘enabling space’ or sanctuary, in which the connection between creativity and therapy can be made.  This environment and all that happens within it reinforces the idea that, by treating people with respect and dignity and introducing them to art as part of a special language for self-expression, the power of the creative process can be utilized as a form of therapeutic treatment.  This enables individuals to better access and understand their challenges and potentials.


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Congratulations to the Class of 2017!

Congratulations to students in the soon-to-be graduating MPS Art Therapy Class of 2017, upon successful completion of their thesis presentations!

Here is the list of students and their thesis topics, in the order they were presented:

The school year ends Monday, May 1.

On Monday, May 8, Robert Grant will be conducting his yearly licensing seminar, where he will cover the intricacies of New York State LCAT Licensing, as well as ATR and ATR-BC credentialing.

Commencement is scheduled for Tuesday, May 9 at Radio City Music Hall.


Posted in In Class, Professional Development, Students

Art & Horticulture Therapy

SVA alumni, Lena De Leo, ATR-BC, LCAT, presented to SVA MPS Art Therapy department a lecture about the intersectionality of art and horticulture therapy. She is a supervising art therapist at Green Chimney’s Residential Treatment Center in Brewster, NY, where she works with children and adolescents with a range of emotional challenges in group and individual settings.

Art Show in the Garden

The residents who struggle with a variety of behavioral, social, and emotional challenges worked for months with Lena and a horticulture therapist to create a beautiful and expressive outdoor art gallery. The goals of the project were to improve socialization, increase frustration tolerance while working with natural materials, instill hope as some art provided containment for growing things, and offer a sense of control over their environment and their effective role in their community.

Interactive Weaving Artwork in the Garden

The residential participants gained from the experience by building a connection through nature and exploring new ways of expression in a safe and controlled setting.

As an alumni, Lena was nice enough to answer a few questions about her experience at the SVA MPS Art Therapy department and how it helped prepare her for the creative arts therapy field.

What lead you to work with this population?
At SVA, I worked with adults in a psychiatric setting in my first year internship and then children at an elementary school in my second year internship and I really enjoyed both settings. My population now is conveniently a mix of the two. I also had the opportunity to be part of the 2nd year counseling team and my client had a very similar childhood to the kids I now work with, which has been immensely helpful to think back on from time to time, especially when thinking of treatment plans for some of my current individual clients. When looking for my current placement, I was interested in continuing working in the mental health field, but I was also drawn to the multi-disciplinary approach that is offered at my placement.

What specifically did your experience at SVA help prepare you for in your current position and professional experience?
The special projects at SVA really helped broaden my knowledge and way of thinking for approaching art therapy across varied populations. With my population now, I work with many different subsets- sensory processing disorder, pre-verbal traumatic experiences, death of a parent, learning disabilities, reactive attachment disorder, LGBTQ youth, among others. I often approach groups similarly to how we planned for special projects; the only difference being that our group will run for a longer period time than just once or twice.

What was your biggest obstacle in graduate school and how did that work towards your growth as a professional?
In graduate school, I struggled with my confidence as an effective art therapist. “Trusting the process” was sometimes difficult for me when I thought of all the ways I could’ve done things differently, said something differently, or used a different material. Trusting my supervisors and going to my own personal therapy sessions really helped me gain insight into my own process and counter-transference, which allowed me to then gain confidence. I had to really address my desire to “see results” and redefine what “results” even were, and if they were benefiting me versus benefiting my client. In the end, working with so many amazing colleagues and pushing myself to try new things (2nd year counseling team, as many special projects and lectures as possible) really helped bolster my confidence in my own technique.

Do you have any advice for students graduating in today’s art therapy world?
When I was in school, I kept hearing “you’ll have to pave the way for yourself” and I’m not sure I really believed it until I entered the professional world. My advice for students is to focus on why they do what they do and have a clearly defined vision of why art therapy might be the best practice for any certain population. In the working world, you will constantly have to answer these questions for your colleagues and friends who have a limited or absent understanding of the field of art therapy. If you can advocate for yourself and for the field, you will be able to find art therapy positions where there seemingly weren’t any. Keep an eye out for recreation therapist jobs, social worker jobs, and art educator jobs in various placements. These positions all have the opportunity to be filled by art therapists.
I also think that self-reflection is SO important as a therapist! Be open to supervision, explore counter-transference, and practice self-care! And don’t forget to make your own art!

Text and images compiled by Dana Hillebrand (MPS Class of 2017).

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This Friday, April 21: Class of 2017 Thesis Presentations & What I Carry Opening Reception


what-i-carry-poster (2)

Posted in Alumni, Art, art galleries, Exhibition, Faculty, Galleries, In Class, Professional Development, Special Programs and Projects, Students