The Art Therapist’s Art

By: Amy Maricle

People often ask whether I use art in my personal life. I do! In fact, I use it in a number of different ways:

  • To create beauty – I want to make something beautiful that makes me feel proud
  • To pray – Focusing on nature in art connects me to something larger
  • To shift my feelings or perspective – Describing a situation in the abstract can be enlightening and cathartic


Art for the Sake of Beauty

Big Sky, 2008


This painting was inspired by a photograph I took in California. I took a lot of license with the clouds, and that was a painstaking but fun process. I love how I feel like I could lay down on the sand and stare at the clouds shifting and changing shape for hours.


Art as Prayer

Spirit Stick I, 2001


This was the first of many spirit sticks. I used a beautiful piece of driftwood and infused it with the energy I was experiencing at a training amongst other art therapists. It feels to me like this piece vibrates energy from the earth to the sky – both grounding and uplifting me at once.



Art that Shifts My Feelings:

Cooling Fog, 2013


I was feeling a lot of anxiety about something, and could feel it physically in my chest. I wanted to get rid of it. This piece began as an orange circle. It reflected the burning feeling in my chest. I added in cooler colors around the circle, working, smudging, and dissipating the burning orange color. After about an hour, the blues and greys became a balm that cooled the image, and soothed the feeling in my chest.  Smudging, moving, and smoothing the colors in this piece brought both physical and emotional release for me.


You can learn more about art therapy from The American Art Therapy Assoication, or  click here to visit my resources page about art therapy.

If you are looking for an art therapist in Foxboro, MA, or the surrounding areas, I provide art therapy services for teens and adults.

Did this post inspire you, ignite you, or raise your curiosity? How is art healing for you? Tell us about it below in the comments!



DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.








  1. Nicole Schwarz, MA, LMFT

    Thanks for the insight Amy! As a very type-A, inside-the-box person, I appreciate seeing examples of how art helps you personally. I can only imagine how much benefit you could provide someone like me on a journey to health & wellness.

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Nicole – I can be rather type-A myself at times! I think that’s why an imaginative and creative approach is really helpful – it gets us out of our head and our WORDS. My clients frequently envision new solutions to their problems and let go of difficult emotions like anger, sadness, and anxiety, with art therapy. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Marina Strauss

    Thanks for sharing Amy! I have also encouraged patients of mine to use art as a form of prayer when undergoing grief or before an operation.
    Making time to do art has been challenging but very rewarding for me. I created a support group for other expressive therapists to meet every other week, and having the commitment of the group has kept me engaged in the creative process. For me, creating art with others has been the way to make it happen, because it seems that for my own, I did not carve the time, but once I became committed in being the facilitator of the support group, it did happen. So my two cents is to find an art buddy to create with!!! Good luck!

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Marina

      It’s lovely to “see” you here. Thank you too for your wonderful and rich ideas. I love how practical your use of art as prayer is as a way to minimize anxiety and call on a higher power. I also wish that I was closer in order to be able to participate in your art support group! I think having something that keeps us accountable to do our own art is key.

      Be well, Amy

  3. Tamara G. Suttle, M.Ed., LPC

    Amy, I love this post! Especially love your spirit stick and the idea of art as prayer! Hoping you can say more about this and / or will be blogging more about this area in particular!

    And, Marina! I love the idea of putting together a group for other art therapists, too. I’m not an art therapist but found I needed to be around others doing clinical work as well. My solution, similar to yours, was to create my own consultation group. We’re starting on our 4th year next month with virtually no turnover. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for me – professionally and personally.

    Thanks for sharing a great twist on this as a way for art therapists to find / share support!

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Tamara:

      I love that you are doing your own consultation group, that is such great support and self care.

      Art as prayer is something that probably has its roots in my life childhood, but I really became conscious of it during my grad school studies. For many artists, myself included, when you really open yourself to the art process and let go, it can feel more like you are a conduit, than the author. I have at times felt admiration for some of the art pieces. And it’s not a self-involved, immodest admiration, but rather an admiration for something that feels quite separate from me. Some pieces seem come THROUGH me, not because of me. My job is not to have talent, or inspiration, but to get out of the way and let it emerge honestly. That’s the humbling sort of experience that makes you realize how small you are. It’s akin to what many experience in nature, looking at space, or in shared communal rituals and experiences. And yes, I will be posting about this more in the future, you can be sure. It’s a passion I know many musicians, dancers, actors, and visual artists share, so I would love to have an open forum about it here.

      Thanks as always for your thoughtful comments, Tamara.

  4. Tamara G. Suttle, M.Ed., LPC

    I love your the way your describe your use of art as a process. It’s . . . a compassionate and permission-giving way to see art as a tool rather than an end-product. Thanks, Amy!

    Hey, have you considered adding a plugin (or widget or whatever they’re called!) that would allow commenters to be notified when others comment on a particular post? Your posts are going to have the potential to generate some great discussions but right now there’s no easy way for commenters to know that the dialogue continues. Just a suggestion!

    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Thanks Tamara: That’s part of what is great about art therapy – the process IS just as important as the product. It’s about using a tool that helps you to problem solve with the more imaginative part of your brain using metaphor and symbols.

      I am totally missing a widget – or whatever – that would allow people to follow the comment string! Thanks for the reminder.

      Thanks for reading!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.