The Reach of Art Therapy


As some of you may or may not know, I feature mostly lifestyle themes within my blog. But what good is a platform you build if you don’t share the value it may have for a greater purpose? What is my why?

When I’m not blogging about fashion, beauty, and travel I commit my time to a career that I continue to become more passionate about through new learning experiences and connecting with those who have been impacted in some way through art and it’s ability to provide healing. As a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist and Certified Art Teacher I’ve committed myself to the education, growth, healing, and support of others. To understand where this blog post will take you I have to give some background so you have a better picture of me and the work I’m committed to with youth and families.

What is art therapy?

Art therapy utilizes creative techniques such as drawing, painting, sculpting, collage, and more to help people express themselves and examine the psychological and emotional significance within their artwork. This in turn can create an increased self awareness and support people with challenges, allowing greater insight into their behaviors and emotions. With the support and guidance, a credentialed art therapist trained to examine the symbols and non verbal messages within the artwork can support clients with reaching an understanding of feelings to resolve deeper conflicts.

During undergrad I studied art education and growing up the arts were always my language for expressing myself and working through difficulty moments much more than I could with the spoken word. In my small town I grew up dancing in performing arts and continued to purse my love for visual art through painting, drawing, and fiber arts. I minored in art therapy and though I knew I always wanted to work with children, there was more I wanted to do to support learners beyond education that I couldn’t always reach in the classroom setting. In 2012 I moved to NYC to attend NYU’s Graduate Program in Art Therapy. During grad school I participated in a global internship in Accra, Ghana. Here I volunteered at Basics International serving at risk and underserved youth in Chorkor. Basics International serves to provide education and protect the basic rights of children for education, food, shelter, and safety. I witnessed first hand the power of an education can be the key to freedom in many ways. Without access to education, girls in particular within this culture would mother their own children as children themselves early as the age of 14.


Our group of grad students set out to provide children at this setting access to creating self expression using art materials to support their overall sense of self. Providing the students within the school setting access to the creative process through art making and sharing I learned a great deal about a culture different from my own. Providing students the opportunity to create however they chose with materials provided they began to visually share their world, filled with challenges, sadness, fear, and hope. I watched first hand how powerful art making could be for the creator and provided an outlet of release to communicate thoughts and feelings. Each day I was amazed at how the art became our means for communicating with each other when the spoken word failed us, and how in time these young minds became confident at expressing themselves. Most of all I saw how much love they craved and how resilient they were, many walking long distances on their own just to attend school. I had arrived in Ghana with a determination to make some type of difference in these children’s lives to leave knowing what they had left with me was far more than I ever imagined. Upon returning to the states and graduating I’ve continued to pursue my work with youth as an art therapist in the NYC public schools.


Fast forward 5 years later and I am sitting in the New York Times Building for a panel discussion on the topic of the fight to end human trafficking in honor of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. This panel consisted of experts on the topics, art therapists, survivors, and entrepreneurs. My former art therapy supervisor spoke as part of the panel on her work with children following the events of 9/11 and the impact this work had on her own professional development. Also on the panel, this supervisor’s early client and now co-founder of Beauty for Freedom. This event detailed a discussion around the realities of human trafficking that takes place both in the United States and beyond, with shared stories of resilient survivors that now speak out about what can be done to spread awareness and end this terrifying global issue. The non for profit Beauty for Freedom provides trafficking survivors art therapy programming and serves to empower, strengthen, and increase the self-esteem of survivors, while spreading awareness to communities. I wanted to share what I took aware from the panel in an effort to bring to light the realities of a problem that is not often spoken about and to honor those survivors who have been courageous enough to share their stories and advocate to become part of the solution.

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is the force, coercion, or fraud to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Traffickers use threats, manipulation, or false promises of well paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims. It can happen at any age in any community, and can happen to any race and gender. Read more about it here.

The Facts

  • Human trafficking earns profits of approximately $150 billion a year for traffickers.

  • Researchers estimate that more than 80% of trafficking victims are female. Over 50% of victims are children.

  • There are more enslaved persons in the world today than ever before in history.

  • The trauma caused by trafficking is so great victims often will not or cannot identify themselves as victims or ask for help. (nationalhumantrafficking)

    What Organizations Can Help?

Beauty for Freedom Programming uses the creative process to empower survivors and victims of human trafficking to develop increased self worth and confidence. It is a non profit organization that raises revenue for survivors in the developing world.

National Human Trafficking Hotline

New York State Office of Children and Family Services

New Jersey Coalition of Human Trafficking

To read more about what you can do if you have suspicion that someone is a victim of trafficking read more here.

What Can I do to Support the Fight?

Beauty for Freedom is currently raising funds to send volunteers to Winneba, Ghana to provide art therapy programming in collaboration with the non profit Challenging Heights. If you are interested in supporting this effort you can purchase a book, Illuminate (Book Project Ghana) or make a donation to Beauty for Freedom’s Go Fund Me Here. They are currently raising funds for a three week programming in Winneba and art supplies for a school year’s worth for 500 students. I’ll be collecting art supplies to provide to Monica, co founder and would appreciate any donation you could make to the programming in their go fund me.

When asked what can we do to help spread awareness a survivor responded, “Without education there is no prevention. “ Providing love and nurturance to children in a supportive environment provides the safety net necessary to lessen the likelihood for children and adolescents to become victims in human trafficking. Those who become victims are often exposed to difficult life circumstances or previous traumatic events such as natural disasters and violence.

Use your instincts, if you think someone you see is or could be a victim contact authorities such as security in airports and call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888.

5 Reasons to Consider Acupuncture

Have you ever been in a place where you find it difficult to just disconnect from the busy noise around you ? When we get wrapped up in all of our routines and are constantly on the go it can be difficult to self reflect and just be in the moment with yourself.  We are constantly filling time with ways to be more productive, or working efficiently while we try to multitask so many aspect of our lives. However, sometimes taking care of our health falls by the wayside when it should be a priority.

As a chronic multitasker myself, I have been guilty of putting my health aside to meet deadlines and eventually it alway catches up with me! Something I’ve kept up with is regular visits to my chiropractor. Growing up dancing and with scoliosis I’ve had back pain and tense muscles. I’ve tried to stay active with fitness, lots of stretching, and chiropractic care. Something I occasionally tried was acupuncture, but stopped when I switched to a new chiropractor’s office that didn’t offer it.

My friend recently shared with me a new spot that has a great spa like atmosphere I found to be very clean and convenient. Wthn, is a new health spot in New York City that specializes in acupuncture and herbal supplements to support overall health and wellbeing.

If you’re not familiar with acupuncture it comes from traditional Chinese medicine techniques of achieving a flow of energy throughout the meridians in the body. Acupuncture involves the insertion of very tiny needles to these specific points to treat pain and discomfort associated with a range of ailments.

5 Benefits to trying Acupuncture:

  1. Acupuncture can help reduce headaches and pain associated with muscle tension in the back, neck, and other areas of the body.

  2. May ease menstruation symptoms and support female fertility.

  3. Ability to smooth fine lines and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. The addition of light therapy can increase these results.

  4. Helps to reduce the inflammation in the sinus cavities since it has anti inflammatory effects on the body. This has helped me a ton during allergy season!

  5. Promotes overall relaxation to restore your internal balance and energy.

    Acupuncture treatment can help manage various aspects of your health and It is not painful at all! I promise! Most importantly, all of Wthn’s acupuncturists are licensed and only disposable and new needles are used. If you are wondering if acupuncture could be right for you or still not 100% on board let the experts at Wthn answer your questions here.

In the past when I had injured my back I remember it was the only thing that sped up the healing process and made me super relaxed during the session! However, it doesn’t have to be used as a reactionary form of treatment. If performed regularly it can be preventative, as it improves the circulatory system by increasing blood flow.

I’ve had some sleep difficulties recently and muscle tension so I knew that I’ve been past due for a session. Just checking out the website gives you a preview for what the experience will be like and how every aspect of your session can be customized based upon your needs.

Wthn also offers LED light therapy for rejuvenating your facial skin cells and an area that can be focused on for fine lines/wrinkles with repeated sessions. My experience at Wthn was professional and I loved how my acupuncturist took time to consult with me with a full intake regarding my health concerns and overall goals for the session. I never realized how much acupuncture could support such a wide range of areas. Wthn offers a one time reduced rate for new customers ($65) and also has a membership for $75/month. It pays for itself after the first visit because recurring visits are $85/session.

The session itself is about 45 minutes and there’s options for headphones with guided meditation or calm music. If you like a blanket or additional pillows all are provided. My face was even rolled with one of the quartz rollers! The entire experience had me feel deeper connected within myself and walking like I was on a cloud. I felt so relaxed! It honestly is the perfect escape to unwind and recharge!

If you are in Flatiron I recommend checking it out or trying their supplements. I see Lauren B. and can’t recommend her enough!

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section.


Tips To Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder


I wanted to open up about a topic that is very real for me and so many others, especially throughout winter time. I’ve even had a hard time formulating how to organize this post and putting unnecessary pressure and even avoidance around touching on the topic. As a licensed Art Therapist it's an area I am very familiar with when working with patients. For me though, it is a personal struggle too. For a long time I’ve dealt with seasonal affective disorder. I have recognized typical symptoms and even as a clinician they can still be difficult to deal with. If you aren’t familiar, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that impacts one’s mood at the same time every year. Depending on where you live you may experience varying symptoms especially during the winter months that leave you feeling bleak and unmotivated for no apparent reason. You may also experience trouble sleeping, fatigue, less energy, difficulty concentrating, and even weight gain are some symptoms.

For me personally I noticed it became worse once I moved to New York City. Which meant less sunlight and like most people in the North East United States, not getting enough vitamin D in the winter. Add into the mix the cold temperatures and all I wanted to do is hibernate inside or jet set to a tropical island for some sun. Seasonal Affective Disorder may having you feeling the winter blues a little bit more than usual and it can be frustrating. I also found it is more common in cases of woman than men. Sometimes even my husband has a hard time relating or making sense of my feelings when my mood is allover the place. As someone who has dealt in the past with anxiety and this condition I would at times find myself feeling guilty or irritable at the thought of doing something social with friends and with a feeling of wanting to burst into tears for no apparent reason.

If you’re noticing that you are suffering from 24/7 symptoms I highly recommend discussing further with your doctor or therapist to find the best support. I found it to be helpful in talking through what I was experiencing. It was good to feel validated and not shameful. If you find that you do have Seasonal Depression there are a few strategies to try gradually, then over time work them into the daily routine that works for you. Trying some ways to get out of the mindset and off the couch will definitely help and can do no harm!

These are my top 10 tips for combatting SAD:

1. Light Therapy


I try to use this light for 30 minutes in the morning when I’m getting ready or handling tasks at home. If you can do another 30 minute session later in the day the benefits could reduce some of the SAD symptoms. I just wouldn’t try it before bed because it could keep you awake.

The bright light is like that of natural sunlight but it is safe. It may have benefits to decrease some of the symptoms of SAD. When we’re getting less sunlight in the fall and winter our brain is most likely producing less serotonin which would impact someone’s mood. Two recent studies suggest the culprit is a brain circuit that connects special light-sensing cells in the retina with brain areas that affect whether we are happy or sad. When these cells detect shorter days, they appear to use this pathway to send signals to the brain that can make a person feel glum or even depressed.

I use this Philips Bluelight that makes traveling with it easy. I’ve also heard that this is another good option as well. You can read more about light therapy here.

2. Exercise


Whether it be in your home with a fitness app or at the gym, making a commitment to a consistent workout routine is key to helping yourself feel better and stay healthy. An even better way is to sign up for a fitness class you can have on your schedule or have a friend be each other’s work out buddy. Since we moved into a newer building we have an ah-mazing gym that offers pilates, yoga, and spin class too! It was one of the decisions we had when choosing this particular building. We loved the bright windows in the gym and the space with the convenience of it being downstairs. Either way, getting up and getting your body moving is key to boosting your mood. You’ll be glad you did and no one ever says after a killer workout, wow I feel so sad after that !

Outfit Details & More Fitness Athleisure:

3. Self Care- Bubble Baths & Meditation


Treating yourself to a weekly ritual of a bath can be relaxing and will warm you right up. I use aromatherapy candles and indulge in my favorite bath bombs with a great play list. I keep technology away during this time and try to just focus on meditation to calm me.

4. Aromatherapy


One of my new favorite and healthier ways to unwind after work is to turn on my essential oils diffuser. I received two for gifts and love the calming light that changes in mine. I find that just putting 5 drops of oil depending on what I need for my mood can help with my energy level and reduces tension headaches. I love lavender as I wind down for bed, eucalyptus/ peppermint mint, and even citrus for the morning.

5. Get Out & Explore

Living in NYC for so long has its perks of always having something to do or see. But with cooler weather and the excitement of the holiday season over it can be hard to keep up with the socializing. Fortunately, now that we live in a new neighborhood we have a whole new environment to explore in Brooklyn. Something I want to keep working on is a “Brooklyn Bucketlist” of activities, restaurants, and classes to try.


Recently a friend invited me to a fresh wreath class and I loved having a Friday night out after a stressful work week spent with a friend! We learned from the flower expert, Carly Cylinder of the flower chef on how to hand tie a fresh wreath. She was so sweet and inspiring! I’m definitely grabbing a copy of her book and if you’re interested in learning more about DIY florals check this out. It was way easier than I expected and now I’ve learned a new skill I could create as a gift along with the book.

Brooklyn Brainery offers tons of classes throughout NYC and include anything from painting, florals, photography, and soap making and more. Next month I plan on trying a neon light workshop.

6. Treat Yourself to a Trip


Of course it’s not always possible to book a flight and escape but putting a plan in place a year ahead of time and saving even if it’s for a mini getaway to someplace warm or a spot you’ve never been before. It can be refreshing to change up your day to day and take some time for self care and getting some real vitamin D from the sun. I love using Hitlist. It’s an app to track flight trends and see last minute deals.

And if you need a little travel inspiration, you can check out some of my trips here!

7. Self Tan Ritual

This may be just me but I alway feel a little brighter when I have a little more of a glow. I’ve tried to stay away from tanning booths and to just rely on organic self tanners. That can give me a little boost if I’m starting to look too much like Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Also these are great to use prior to a beach vacation where you don’t want to be burned in the sun. I love Vita Liberata products. Always remember to use a mit and keep moisturizing after you self tan. I usually do it once to twice a week depending on how dark I want to go. It doesn’t have a smell and doesn’t usually transfer unless you have night sweats like me. I usually self tan at night after exfoliating in the shower and wear loose old dark PJs to save my sheets...and my relationship.

8. Music to your Ears

Creating a playlist of music can be uplifting for your mood and with Spotify I can customize and organize my playlists by what activity I’m doing. Whether it’s a playlist for the gym, meditation during my commute, music that’s relaxing while I work, or for the bath to wind down it always helps. Music does wonders for our brain and can help when we’re feeling down. My husband, Kevin, actually has a motivation playlist you might enjoy!


9. Healthy Diet


Consistency is key when making changes to support your overall health and energy levels. Smart choices about what you’re putting in your body impact how you feel almost immediately. One routine I’ve started is a daily detox water that is full of ingredients that promote overall health. I use a recipe from Katie’s Bliss and have made little tweaks so I can stomach the apple cider vinegar and biter lemon. Honey definitely helps and so does ginger to add some sweetness.

I also started having only salads for lunch and switching them up from something Asian, fruity, or hearty with squash and quinoa in them. I’ve tried to boost my protein and nut intake so I’m getting enough vitamin B12 which also helps with energy levels and mood.

One habit I have to get better about is my sweet tooth. We love creating home made ice cream as an after dinner treat. I cut alcohol for all of this month and that’s helped with feeling less sluggish and overall healthy with less calorie intake. Just introduce some new changes over time and make routines that are easy to stick with. I batch the lemon detox water on Sundays & Wednesdays so I have it for the week on the go.

10. Bedtime Routine


This one is the absolute hardest for me as I find that I’m sleepy throughout the day because I’m not getting enough sleep at night for various reasons. My husband has programmed a bed time routine reminder into our Alexa that makes me wish I could snooze it, but has put me more aware. Winding down with no technology or blue light an hour before sleep is key to an easier time falling and staying asleep. Try not to eat an hour before bed as well as to not disrupt our digestive track. I also recommend using blue light glasses if you do have a job where you’re at your computer for more than 2 hours a day. My routine has been an evening bath, switching on my oil diffuser, putting lotion on my feet with warm socks, and reading a book that is not work related. I’ve also been trying to get a jump on waking up earlier to take advantage of daylight hours. This has been one of my hardest goals to meet thus far. I did find this waking light alarm clock that could be useful that wakes you gradually.

These are some of my favorite bed time products. I love my silk scrunchis. I use these to preserve my blowout or curl & put my hair in a loose pony/bun for bed time. I also recommend one of the silk pillowcases!

Whether you are coping with SAD or not, I hope that sharing my insights into these ten simple life improvements has been helpful! Be sure to tailor some of these tips to create your own level of self care for your personal mental health. Keep going strong on those new years resolutions and don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t carry out all the coping methods at once. Just being honest with yourself is the first step in the right direction toward a healthier you! Thanks for stopping by if you stuck with it until the end of this longer post. If you’d like to see more content like this comment and share your feedback.