Here at the Viva Center, our practitioners and affiliates are highly experienced at adapting to the specific needs of each client. Our therapists at Viva are skilled at applying numerous techniques in their therapies. We are happy to announce one of our newest therapists joining our team, Lina Assad Cates, LMFT, ATR. Lina integrates visual art making into her work with clients.
After studying counseling, Lina wanted to combine her passion for art with her drive to do clinical work. This collaboration has had helpful effects for when words cannot convey certain messages. More so, art therapy is an alternative approach to sharing thoughts and emotions that may not be so easy to express verbally.
Lina explains that there is a spectrum in the field of art therapy between placing more value on the creative process and placing more value on the product that is created. Lina says that she lies somewhere in the middle, believing that “the creative process in and of itself can be therapeutic, yet there is also insight to be gained.” Some clinicians, such as Lina, are specifically trained in art therapy, while others may use art in their practice. It is important to clarify the difference. Other clinicians may incorporate painting, instrument playing and/or other expressive tools as creative outlets for their clients. Through Lina’s training as a registered art therapist, she takes this a step further. There is insight that comes from reflecting on and processing works of art that her clients create. Lina is highly experienced in working with her clients to discuss the products that come from their art therapy sessions. Through these interpretations, Lina is able to guide her clients in coming to realizations and other recognitions. This is how her specialized training in art therapy sets her apart from other clinicians that may incorporate art making in their services. Overall, Lina’s main goal of therapy is what is best for each of her clients. If they are open to exploring art therapy, Lina provides a range of visual art materials for her clients to choose from.
The foundation of art therapy is rooted in psychoanalytic theory that highlights the importance of symbolic self-expression. Some see products of art therapy as literal revelations of one’s subconscious. However, art therapy has evolved to integrate other theoretical orientations as well. Lina actively encourages her clients to reflect on the art making experience and make observations related to the resulting artwork. She prefers to guide her clients in this process of exploration rather than interpret the artwork herself. As a result, clients may gain self-awareness and feel empowered by the creative process.
Art therapy is not only confined to drawing a picture or painting a portrait. It could even involve forming a physical representation of something one may be emotionally lacking. For example, one could benefit from creating a container to contain difficult emotions. It’s a metaphorical space for their pain and suffering to be held. Sometimes the visual representation provides a sense of closure and awareness that cannot otherwise be brought to a client’s attention. These physical depictions are highly helpful because they are tangible therapeutic tools that one can literally take home with them.
It is often believed that art therapy is mainly for people of the child and geriatric population, when in reality, this is not true. Although children and the elderly do benefit, people from all different ages and backgrounds can find sanctuary in this abstract form of therapy. Lina connects with her clients in a way that is individual and comfortable for each person. As a visual artist herself, she understands the positive energy that comes from art; and that is what she wants to share with her clients.