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Letter from the President

Legislative Update

Annual Art Show - Details!

October Meeting Recap

® Introduction Opportunity

ATACO Recognizes Tisha Adams, Ed, LPC, ATR-BC for the Art Therapist Spotlight

Art Intervention with Refugee Youth

How to Use the Google Group List-Serve!
Next All Member Meeting Sunday, December 13th!

2:00 - 4:00 pm

Denver Children's Home's Family Resource Center. 1536 Albion Street, Denver, Co, 80220


Legislative Update

In a very exciting next step, ATACO has submitted the final copy of the 450 page sunrise review application to DORA. DORA will now have until October 2016 to decide whether they agree that art therapists in Colorado need to be licensed. This license will benefit us all, by creating title protection, so that untrained therapists cannot claim to be using art therapy, aiding in processes such as medicaid and insurance reimbursement, and helping our field get the recognition it deserves as an important mental health field.  In the mean time, we will begin the process of further educating the public and the legislators about art therapy, using ATACO sponsored events and our new brochures to get the word out. Please contact Caitlin Arce at if you are interested in joining these efforts.

Communication: How to Use the Google Group Email!

A major benefit of your membership to ATACO is use of the Google Group e-mail. You do not have to have a Google e-mail address to use this benefit and it is super easy to use. Simply send an e-mail to and it will go out to all ATACO members. This is a great place to:
  • Learn about ATACO events being offered
  • List and find paid and volunteer job opportunies
  • Pose questions to the wisdom of the group
  • Advertise training opportunities and therapy groups
  • Request referrals
ATACO Totebags for sale! $25 Online

Letter from the President

Dear Members and Friends,

We hope this newsletter finds you enjoying the changing of the seasons and taking advantage of this increased opportunity for being inside and making art! 

In this newsletter Spotlight section, we have the pleasure to present Tisha Adams, Ed, LPC, ATR-BC, Medical Art Therapist at the Children’s Hospital in Aurora.  Please read Tisha's wonderful interview where she shares her art therapy history, experiences and insights with us. 

We also want to extend our appreciation to you our valued members and friends!  ATACO continues to grow, we now have over 94 art therapy members and supportive associates.  
The Board is currently focused on the following initiatives:
  •  We just submitted to DORA a completed legislative sunrise application!  A huge thank you to our GAC committee: Caitlin Arce, Cindy Gordon and Amanda Rochwite! 
  • Planning for our 2016 annual art exhibit, see more information below.
  • We are also planning an introduction to the HeartMath® system in February, details below.
  • Check out our website for the new ATACO brochure (under Education and Research) and our new History section:
 Also included in this issue are highlights from the ATACO October meeting, a new art directive and information on our our upcoming January 2016 Art Show.    
As always please keep in touch! Let us know ways we can improve and build further community.  We are always open to new ideas and would love to see your increased involvement.  
Warm Regards,
Linda Larkin, MA
Art Therapy Association of Colorado – President


The Annual Art Show – Save the Date!

 Thursday January 21st - Sunday February 7th 2016
CORE New Art Space
900 Santa Fe Drive, Denver CO 80204
ATACO presents the artwork of local art therapists. This art show is dedicated to introducing and sharing the profession of art therapy and an essential component of the profession...creation!  Artwork shown is tied directly to the art therapists’ personal expression.     
Entry Deadline All artwork must be delivered to CORE New Art Space by noon on Monday, January 18th 2016.  If you cannot be present at the time, please make arrangements ahead of time with an ATACO Board Member.

Entry Fee: $15.00 per piece to assist with cost associated with the show.  All checks can be made payable to “ATACO.”  Cash payments can be arranged ahead of time or paid at the time of art drop off.
Requirements:  All mediums welcome.  Each artist can submit a maximum of 4 pieces.  Each creation must be able to fit through the doors and weigh 75 pounds or less.
This opportunity is present to all Professional Art Therapists and Art Therapy Students in Colorado. 
ATACO October Meeting Highlights

We were honored to have the following art therapists conduct informative break-out sessions discussing cases, art directives and provide insights into these specialty areas.
  • Art Therapy with Children – Supervision Session with David Henley, PhD, LCAT, ATR 
  • Art Therapy and Addiction with Linda Sweeney, MA, LPC, LAC, ATR
  • Trauma and Art Therapy with Daniel Blausey, MA, LCAT, ATR-BC
We also had the opportunity to make art in community at the Naropa Art Studio. Thank you to our presenters and everyone that could join us for the event!

Save the Date for HeartMath®

Sunday February 7th 2016

ATACO is excited to sponsor an introduction to the HeartMath® system on Sunday February 7th at 2:00 pm in Denver at the CORE New Art Space gallery (9th & Santa Fe). 
The HeartMath® introduction will be presented by Paula Staffeldt, MA, LPC, BCC.  She will present research-based techniques HeartMath® offers to assist with reducing stress, building resilience and unlocking your natural intuitive guidance for making better choices using heart intelligence.
Paula Staffeldt, MA, LPC, BCC is a licensed HeartMath® Coach

 HeartMath® is a registered trademark of the Institute of HeartMath.
ATACO recognizes Tisha Adams, Ed, LPC, ATR -BC Doctor of Counseling, Education, and Supervision for the Art Therapist Spotlight!
It was an honor to interview a former supervisor and an influential mentor for myself and many others in the Art Therapy field. Tisha is an Art Therapist and Senior Behavioral Health Clinician in the Ponzio Creative Art’s Therapy Department at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Tisha’s authenticity, kind nature, and talent make her an incredible art therapist, counselor, educator, and person. Tisha and I spent some time over lunch to catch up about the art therapy field, life and work.  – Shauna Perry, ATACO Vice President
Can you tell us what drew you to the field of art therapy? 
As a young adult, I was drawn to working with children and to the arts in more of a recreational capacity. As an undergraduate in college, I was studying psychology and worked summers in Maine where I taught and managed land sports.  I was a bunk counselor. Post-graduation I began working at the Cleo Wallace Center in Denver, CO, a facility for the treatment of psychiatric, emotional, and behavioral problems in children and adolescents ages 12 - 21. My title at the time was mental health worker and I engaged the clients in many different capacities to enhance their social and emotional development; including arts based activities. One of my favorite parts of the job was leading an art-based group. At one point when I was running an art group someone mentioned to me that I was doing "art therapy” a term that I hadn’t heard before. I decided to do more research and I contacted Mary Cane Robinson, who at the time was the outgoing President of ATAC (now ATACO). In a written letter, she recommended that I contact Robin Gabriels, who was the incoming President of ATAC (around 1989).  After talking to Robin, I knew that I wanted to earn my Graduate Art Therapy in the beautiful state of Vermont at Vermont College in Montpelier. I was able to complete my internship with Robin Gabriels as my on-site supervisor at National Jewish Health and my off-site supervisor was Dottie Oatman. When I look back, many of the founding leaders of ATAC and my many teachers have had significant influence on my art therapy work. I am fortunate to say that early on I was trained or exposed to so many art therapists regarded as leaders in the field: Janie Ryan, Linda Gantt, Gladys Agell, Eleanor Ulman, Paula Howie, and Mimi Farrelly-Hanson to name a few.

What do you think is the power of Art therapy?

Anyone who is an artist understands the power of art. Speaking to my experience in the medical art therapy field working with children and adolescents who are living with severe and chronic physical and mental health issues, I think art therapy offers much power in its inherent process of providing opportunities of choice, control, and connection.  The transformative power that the art process holds is powerful. The power is evident to me when I experience a child or adolescent who might present as sad and hesitant before therapy and become focused, engaged, and happy during and after therapy. I love that the impact of art therapy can be overt or held within the patient’s imagery for gaining insight over time.
In addition to your academic and professional career in art therapy, you are also an educator. What parts of your journey have been most satisfying?

It is funny how things unfold in our lives.  I don’t ever remember not feeling satisfied with what I was doing. I always felt like my art therapy career has been organic as it has been unfolding in front of me.  During the process, I have been present for opportunities in my life, my work and my education. My introduction into the field happened naturally, I did not do extensive research or questioning.  I often say that I have tripped and fallen into many of the things I have had the privilege of doing. Although I have some awareness that I have been open to taking risks and taking advantage of opportunities that have come my way. For example, after graduate school while working with kids with medical issues I realized that I could use art to help kids develop fun and creative visual tools that worked to organize their complex medication and self-care needs. I wanted to learn more about using creative computer programs to develop visual tools. I marched down to Art Institute of Colorado (AiC) and enrolled. I learned a lot and earned an Associate’s degree in Graphic Design.  After graduating from AiC, I noticed they had a part time Gen Ed instructor position posted. I applied and was hired. I taught Psychology and Creative Thinking for 13 years to students who were working toward Bachelor degrees in creative careers like culinary, photography, graphic design, interior design, web design, and video production. I loved being around college students and I found my training as an art therapist was helpful in the classroom. I became excited about integrating creative teaching models, activities, and assignments into coursework to help the students discover the value of psychology and mental health. I really enjoyed the balance of teaching and providing therapy at Children’s Hospital. My confidence as an educator grew and as an adjunct instructor at AiC was eligible for tuition assistance in obtaining a Doctorate so I decided to go back to school.  Low and behold, I completed a Doctoral degree in Counseling, Education, and Supervision in 2014.
Do you have a favorite art piece that you have done? Are you working on anything now that you are really excited about?

The children I have worked with over the years have inspired and influenced my own artwork. Most often, I hand build with clay. Two of my favorite pieces that were patient influenced included a clay sculpture created in memory of a patient who passed away from cardiomyopathy and the other clay sculpture created after discharging a young, creative, and inspiring patient diagnosed with ADHD after two years of therapy. A lot of my art work tends to reflect humor and whimsy. I have begun to collect found wood, metal objects, and tin containers with the plan to assemble to create whimsical, metal animal sculptures. I will have to wait and see what develops!
Are there any particular mediums that or materials that you use the most?
I use clay often in my individual work with patients at the hospital, I love that clay requires commitment and patience. Pediatric patients seem to be drawn to clay. I find that it has a calming effect and scaffolds the building of trust and rapport. Personally, I love clay because it is forgiving and sensory.
How would you like to see the field or profession evolve in the coming years?

Despite the clinical skills art therapists have, I think they are too often viewed as “milieu staff”, "adjunct therapy" or “art teachers". In my own setting, I am experiencing more pressure to work more evidence-based. For this reason, I need to translate my work into evidence-based terms for other mental health professionals.  Therefore, even though it seems a lot of us are not trained in research nor have an interest in conducting research, there is an emphasis on research and evidenced-based methods and practices.  I would like to see that art therapists are trusted and valued for their knowledge, expertise, and skills in all hospitals and clinical settings and considered as integral to patient treatment. Title protection would be nice as a way to formally distinguish, support, and substantiate our field.  
What advice do you have for prospective students and new professionals?

For undergraduate students, I would suggest they take both art classes and psychology classes. They should consider psychology training as important part of their early training. For those who have already graduated with a bachelor’s degree, I would suggest getting experience in the mental health field working with populations you are drawn to.  However, also do not limit yourself, take opportunities as they arise. For graduate level students, I would suggest reading professional articles as much as you can, take advantage of opportunities to ask questions, and continue to do your own art for fun and to help cope with life stressors. It is always good to try to attend workshops and presentations about mental illness and treatment methods inside and outside the field of art therapy and during practicum and internship.  Be open to a variety of experiences and interview a variety of professionals working in the field in a variety of different settings. As new and seasoned professionals, I would suggest for individuals to stay connected to other creative arts therapists, advocate for art therapy, seek great supervision and work toward obtaining your ATR and LPC credentials right away.
What or who has been the most influential in your career?

I don't think I can name just one person.  There have been so many in the past and currently. ATACO and the founders in the early 1990's were influential as well as my Graduate level teachers and peers, and my supervisors and art therapy mentors. I am always humbled and moved by anyone who works every day to help, are willing to be helped, or are advocates for helping. They are dedicated and passionate people and we all benefit from each other.
Who is your favorite artist?
I do not have a favorite artist. I guess my favorite artist happens in moments. If I love the art, I love the artist.
You are involved with ATACO as a professional organization. How important is it to collaborate with your art therapy colleagues? How have your professional collaborations benefited your career?
I had served on the ATACO board, first as Ethics Chair, Vice President and then President.  I was involved with ATACO for over 15 years. Since I have been at Children’s Hospital and a part of an interdisciplinary team in the Ponzio Creative Art's therapy Program working with music therapists, a dance movement, and yoga therapist I have the opportunity to connect daily with other creative arts therapists. I realize that this is a less common experience for most and for many years, this was not the case for myself when I was a solo art therapist at National Jewish Health. It was during this time that ATACO gave me a sense of community, opportunity for professional development, experience and a sense of comradery.  It also gave me a chance to connect with those who helped pioneer the field of art therapy in the state of Colorado. In addition, we were supporting those who were coming into the field.
Is there anything you would like to see happen through ATACO in supporting and expanding the local art therapy field?
First, before I comment, thank you for all that you and the board do for the field of art therapy in the state of Colorado. I know that it is very time involved and can be a labor of love. I love that Naropa University students and faculty are so involved in ATACO. I think holding more social and professional events in the community of Denver as we did in the past days of ATACO might be a good way to draw in the Colorado art therapy community. We had some success in the past with holding these kind of events and collaborating with other creative art therapy disciplines. A favorite memory of mine is when ATACO organized a silent auction to honor our past and founding board was such a great event and really well received!
Please tell us about your self-care strategies or philosophy.
I believe self-care is a choice. Let me just say I feel I am making better choices in regards to self-care as I age. I have discovered that I need to have balance in my life: professional, family, physical, personal, and social and seek opportunities as often as I can. One of the things that I have done for the past four years is to host 3 - 4 art nights a year with friends at my home for social connection and creativity.
If there is anything more, you would like to tell us about yourself or about your experience as an art therapist?
Thank you for your interest in me, my work and thanks for all you are doing for ATACO!
Interviewed by Shauna Perry, MA, LPC, ATR, ATACO Vice President
The ATACO Art Therapist Spotlight aims to recognize the creative and professional work of our ATACO members. If you would like to nominate an art therapist to the Spotlight or highlight your own contributions, please email nominations to email address:

Art Intervention with Refugee Youth

By: Shauna Perry, MA, LPC, ATR

Title: Where I Am From

Goal:  As refugee youth are becoming immersed into a new country and culture it is important to give opportunities to keep a connection with their own culture and with their country of origin. This art intervention recognizes and respects refugee’s diverse backgrounds while allowing them to initiate a sense of belonging and acceptance by sharing the beauty of their land, the people of it, and the significance of their culture and traditions. The 1st person writing after the art imagery allows ownership of the imagery and empowers youth to have confidence about their heritage.  

Materials: Pre-cut collage imagery (from national geographic and travel magazines), colored pencils, markers, oil pastels and glue sticks.

Directive: Refugee youth are encouraged to create imagery representing the positive memories from their country, their home, cultural, and spiritual traditions. After the art process they write in first person language about their imagery (guided by the therapist). They can write in their native language first to capture and express ideas more freely.

Client artwork from this intervention is not published as appropriate releases were not able to be obtained.  
Copyright © 2015 ATACO - Art Therapy Association of Colorado, All rights reserved.

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