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An Interview With Art Therapist Jamie Rogers



Jamie Rogers is an art therapist who owns Emergent Pathways Through Art in Portland, OR; here is a link to the website:





Q:  What made you interested in art therapy?


A: I wish I had a simple answer to this question. And yet, I personally enjoy that the answer is not so simple because it comes from an intertwining of situations and learnings within my life that have spanned the last decade and have brought a greater richness to what I am offering as an art therapist. So, I will offer some of the highlights that led me in the direction of art therapy.


To begin with, I had hit a point in my life where I recognized that I didn’t have any passion for the work that I was doing as a systems analyst. At the same time, I had become interested in tile mosaics and was thinking about becoming an artist. But, my future plans were delayed as I began having neurological difficulties that would set the stage for a whole new set of experiences during the next few years.


Dealing with neurological dysfunction was challenging and yet it was here that I chose to work with alternative care practitioners. These practitioners did not specifically include a mental health therapist, but they all really held a healing space for me and actually took the time to listen to what I was going through while also offering advice and direction. Within this, I found the qualities of holding space and listening to be equally healing as the specific healing modalities being offered by each of the practitioners I encountered.


During this healing period, I also pursued my desires to become an artist by taking classes in drawing, sculpture, and ceramics. In doing so, I became especially interested in what would happen when I worked without any particular intention on the final product. This was an experience that I had previously described as something coming through me, rather than of me, giving me the sense that some kind of spiritual connection was guiding me to the existence of something deeper within myself. Then, in looking back on the finished product, I was able to discover and acknowledge something that was in fact occurring within my life.


Thus, my experiences with art during my own healing process created my initial interest in art therapy. But, actually making the decision to become an art therapist took more healing and deeper investigation on my part. A turning point came, however, after engaging in a consistent meditation practice and deciding to attend a “Life Vows” meditation retreat, where I found my life vows to include:

  • Creating art with the intention of making people feel their heart
  • Helping people create value in their life
  • Listening to the spiritual stories of others with compassion and respect
  • Encouraging others to grow in their own way
  • Holding a calm and positive space for others
  • Speaking and writing from the heart
  • Being respectful of the earth and the resources it offers

After discovering these vows, I felt that I wanted to do energy work and became interested in a form called bioenergetics. But, I found that the training for this type of work required a masters degree in mental health and thus my attention was redirected to art therapy.


Today I feel that art therapy is in fact energy work, but I also currently see myself incorporating other energetic modalities in the future that are likely to include bioenergetics, reiki, and medical intuition.


Q:  You have a Masters of Art Therapy Counseling from Southwestern College of Santa Fe, New Mexico and a Bachelors of Science in Computer and Information Science from the University of Oregon. How do you use your computer science degree in your work?


A: Both areas of study have their own complexities to them and require a particular kind of analytical thinking. That is, when an problem arises, you need to look beyond the symptom being displayed at the surface. Because, just addressing the surface symptom may not in fact “fix” the undesired effect. Instead, this might also cause additional issues to arise, in people as well as computer systems. Thus, looking further inside the computer program or at the underlying cause of a behavior is more pertinent to finding a desired resolution. Within my work as an art therapist, I address looking underneath a behavior by defaulting to a person’s body, heart, and spirit and encouraging the development of their own personal guidance system for healing.


Q: . You are currently not registered with the ATCB, is there a reason you have chosen not to register yourself?


A: The Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB) has a number of requirements for registration. For the designation of “Registered Art Therapist” (ATR), these requirements include graduation from an approved master’s art therapy program and 1000 hours of supervised, post-graduation, direct client work. After these requirements are met, a “Registered Art Therapist” may take an exam to become a “Board Certified Art Therapist” (ATR-BC). Since only a couple of states license art therapists, Oregon not being one of them, these are generally the only available credentials beyond a master’s degree for art therapists. Many art therapy programs however, Southwestern College included, offer a dual degree of art therapy and counseling, allowing for further credentialing and job opportunities as licensed counselors, which generally have yet another set of requirements.


Thus, since I just graduated in October of 2013, I am not eligible for registration with the ATCB. I am, however, listed with the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) as a new professional. But, as to obtaining further credentials from the ATCB, I have not made plans to take this further step, since I am uncertain of the value in doing so with regard to the services that I am providing and the associated costs. If I were to proceed more in the direction of counseling and mental health diagnoses and treatment, then this might make more sense. But, my current focus has more to do with holistic health improvement that includes: developing connections to the body, heart, and spirit, clearing energy blockages, working with chronic physical conditions, discovering life purpose and passions, and moving through the stages of life. Within this realm, I see myself as more of a healing guide who utilizes processes that are largely based on extrapolations from my own life and educational experiences.


Q:  What is the difference between drawing a picture for therapeutic reasons at home and doing it in a therapist’s office?


A: You can certainly gain therapeutic value while engaging in artistic creation at home and I highly encourage all of us to do so, because I believe that it is vital to our well-being as it introduces a metaphorical language that can be interpreted by the body for healing. But, our culture has greatly devalued the artistic process and has elevated it to a level that can only be achieved by the finest of artists which are designated as an elite group. Because of this, many people say they are not artists and cannot draw anything, but in fact almost everyone can make marks on paper or otherwise engage and experiment with art materials.


So, to begin with, the therapist’s office provides a space that gives permission to engage in the artistic process. But, to even do this, means that the space needs to be cultivated to provide safety, confidentiality, and support. And, for me, it also means inviting in spiritual guides that will support me, the space, and all who seek help within it. Beyond this, creating art in a therapeutic setting will allow greater insights to be gained as the therapist bares witness, invites reflection, and offers additional perspectives into a client’s art-making process and resulting artwork.


Therapeutic insights can be offered in different ways, however, depending on a therapist’s philosophy or purpose. Some therapists do interpret client art and, in fact, specific art directives do exist in the art therapy field that are used for diagnostic assessment of a client’s state of mind. But, this is not the direction of my practice, although I do keep these ideas in mind to alert me of potential issues that may need to be addressed. My therapeutic style is to allow the client to interpret their art, to question their process, to question what they see and feel, and to give additional insights, which may or may not be valid through the client’s eyes.


Q: What are some of the methods you use in your work?


A: The methods used during a session depend largely on the level or depth that a client is prepared for. At the very top or surface level, a client may just need to express and talk about their emotions. So, asking them to draw their anger, fear, or frustration might be the most therapeutic action to take, because it can provide some relief to their current situation.


At a deeper level, I am most often trying to help a client see something just below the surface of their consciousness. To do this, I first ask them to energetically hold whatever they have come into my office to work with, which I call an intention. Then, to ground them and to deepen their intention, I lead them through a short guided meditation. And Finally, I ask them to come out of the meditation as they are ready, to continue holding the energy of their intention within their body, and to draw or make marks on the paper by drawing from their body. This last piece, “drawing from the body”, is really important because I want them to get out of their mind, out of thinking about an art product, and out of thinking about a solution to their problem. Instead, I want them to be in their body, because I believe it holds some important information that is currently unavailable to their conscious mind.


At a similar but more extended level, I use a body map, which would be more applicable to chronic conditions or deeper traumas. Within this method, I will place a body outline before the client and guide them to hold their intention. As they hold their intention, I will ask them to scan their body for sensations. Once a sensation is identified, I will ask them to choose a representative color, to draw what it feels like on the corresponding area of the body map, and to label that sensation. This process will continue until all sensations around the intention have been identified. I call this resulting map a “treatment plan” and I will then start to work with the least threatening sensations on this map as I form appropriate art directives for the client.


Within any of these levels I am also likely to encourage journaling or dialoging. Journaling encourages reflection and helps to capture the information from the experience and to bring out further information that the experience has invoked. Dialoging, on the other hand, is a technique that is used primarily for attempting to access information from the right side of the brain, which is more sensory in nature. With this technique questions can be asked of the image using the dominant hand and responded to by using the non-dominant hand. Both practices bring a greater depth of understanding about the information that is being brought through an individual’s image about a specific life situation.


Of further significance to note here is the manner in which these methods are applied. Although, all methods will include an initial conversation about a client’s current situation, the resolution or opening of a pathway is found through the art and the discussion, journalling, and dialoging that follow the art creation. Thus, my role in applying these methods is simply to help with the client’s own discovery process.


Q:  What is the difference between individual art therapy and group art therapy?


A: The main difference between individual and group art therapy is the comfort level for the client or clients. That is, some topics are not comfortable for an individual to share within a group and likewise some topics would be more traumatizing than helpful to other group members. Beyond this, individual art therapy is generally for deeper, more personal work, while group art therapy or classes are restricted to more general topics that are common to all members of the group.


Q:  What can a person get out of art therapy that they could not get out of traditional psychotherapy?


A: Traditional psychotherapy actually encompasses many types of theories and techniques, but for purposes of simplification I’m going to assume that you are asking about “talk” therapies. With that regard, I believe the greatest strength of art therapy is that it allows for an externalization of unconscious information in a metaphorical format. On the one hand, this means that unknown information can be extracted from within, given a tangible existence, and then discussed and reflected upon over time. On the other hand, the information provided is more sensory in nature and provides for a type of language that can be more easily interpreted by the implicit, sensory functions of the right brain. Thus, the mere process of art creation and reflection can cause an alteration to the interpretation of sensory inputs, which are the driving force behind behaviors.


To define this more specifically, here are four levels of potential interaction within the art therapy process and their associated effects:

  • Art creation is therapeutic in and of itself, providing relaxation or stimulation based on media selection and usage
  • Exploring personal art allows insights to surface that were not previously present, by investigating both the art and the process of creating the art
  • Creating personal artwork allows the encapsulation of information about a particular moment within a person’s life, making it available for greater examination, reflection, and integration over time
  • Working on a sequence of art pieces allows a person to integrate change more completely and at their own pace, as their awareness increases, as their sensory and mental information finds congruent expression, and as their artwork and life experiences come to bare witness to the changes that are occurring

Q:  What are some if the problems you have seen art therapy help with?


A: The problems that art therapy can help with are actually very wide and diverse, from the therapeutic value of play to having an effect on severe mental illness and everything in between. My own area of interest, however, includes working with unresolved trauma that inhibits the experience of joy, clouds the pathways toward a satisfying and fulfilling life, or manifests as an energy blockage or chronic physical condition. Within this, my main goal for resolution is to utilize art therapy to enable reconnection to the body, heart, and spirit, which I believe will allow the client’s natural guidance system to bring them back into health and happiness.


Saying all of this, however, means that I am pushing the use of art therapy into new territory. While I’m sure you can find that art therapy is being used for life improvement, you are not likely to find instances of it being used to resolve physical conditions. The term “medical art therapy” is out there, but this generally refers to the palliative care of a patient and relates only to their emotional well-being within their current circumstances. But, I have used the “body map” method discussed above to work with an energy blockage that seemed to be related to an unresolved remnant of PTSD. I have also resolved my own chronic shoulder pain by creating art, dialoging with the art, dialoging with the body, and applying other energetic healing techniques. So, I hope to be able to serve clients in a similar fashion.


Q:  What is the most unusual case you have seen in your work?


A: At this point in time, I don’t feel that I have observed a particularly unusual case. And, to speak of a particular case would likely be a breach of confidentiality, so it would not be appropriate to discuss here. However, I have observed different levels of trauma and their associated levels of resiliency. Surprisingly, some people with a great deal of trauma also have a great deal of resiliency. Additionally, I have observed that our current culture brings about a huge amount of trauma within most of us that often gets passed over as being “normal”, which is the area that I hope to help address within my therapeutic sessions with clients.


Q: What famous artist do you think needs some professional help?


A: As stated above, I do not make interpretations of a client’s or an artist’s work. Their interpretations rule in my book. What I think and feel about another’s art work may not have anything to do with what is going on within them, but may in fact have everything to do with what is going on within me. But, as an art therapist, I do endeavor to discern whether the observations I am making are associate with me or with my client. I do this by listening to their story and by questioning whether my insights are pertinent before I offer them to the client. 


On the other hand, I will note that all artwork carries the energies and intentions of those who create it. Rather than being concerned with whether an artist needs professional help or not, I would suggest that you be more aware of how these energies and intentions are affecting you when you see it or are around it. Art is very powerful! So, be careful about the artwork you choose to keep within your life, for it can actually affect your own state of being.



Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)


An Interview With Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist Christa Alexander


Christa Alexander is Clinical Director of Heart Thyself, LLC, which focuses on narcissistic abuse recovery; here is a link to her website:





Q:  What is your professional and educational background?


A: I completed my undergraduate degree at Syracuse University with a B.A. in French. I had originally planned to go back to France to teach English as a second language. It’s a bit of a long story, but I didn’t go, and instead I eventually moved back to Portland, OR where I grew up. I wasn’t sure where to go from there. I stewed over it for a few years, and after slumming through several jobs in corporate America decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I realized I needed to get my Masters degree so I could do something other than office work. I got back in touch with myself, with my passions, and through a series of connections was led to counseling. I then spent 5 years getting my M.A. in counseling from Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. My first counseling experience was as a motivational interviewer at the Salvation Army ARC, and then I moved to a clinic at the Grotto Counseling Center in Portland which had a much more private practice feel. As soon as I graduated I opened my own private practice and I’ve been counseling ever since.

Q:  What kind of research have you done regarding narcissism?

A: At this point I am not a researcher. I am more focused in my practice on clinical work with clients. Personally I have not conducted my own research on narcissism, but I may move in that direction at some point. I do follow the work of some other people, such as Dr. Karyl McBride and Alice Miller.


Q:  How can one identify a narcissist?

A: Great question! Often, it is hard to spot them right away, especially if you don’t know what you are looking for. They come in a variety of shapes and forms. They can be male or female from any socioeconomic background. At first they can seem like amazing, charismatic people that can easily impress, naturally lead, and are quick to charm anyone they come into contact with. They are very image focused so they go to great lengths to create the perfect image for themselves.

The best way to determine if you are experiencing a narcissist is to see what kind of empathy skills they have. Can they see and understand the world from your perspective and from the perspective of others? Are they able to show compassion for people in need? What is their EQ level? If you find that empathy is non-existent than you are most likely engaging with a narcissistic individual.

If you’d like to watch some utterly savage narcissists in action, just watch Mad Men. Focus specifically on Don Draper and Peter Campbell. This show is extremely well done, even in its portrayal of the victims of the narcissistic abuse, such as Betty Draper-Francis. Focus specifically on Peter though because he tends to show the harsh cruelty that is intrinsic to narcissism.

Q:  What makes someone attracted to a narcissistic personality type?

A: A narcissist will wine and dine you, shower you with praise, show you off with pride, admire you and compliment you. That is hard to resist. They have mastered the art of charming anyone and everyone. If you haven’t developed good boundaries or know what to look for, any person could be caught in this web.

Often times adults who were raised in a narcissistic family system or had some kind of narcissistic parent will then gravitate towards narcissistic partners simply because it feels familiar. Adults tend to try and work out their unresolved conflict with their opposite sex parent with their spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, partner, lover, etc. So a woman who has been raised by a narcissistic dad, for example, will then often times grow up and be drawn to a narcissistic man simply because the dynamic feels familiar and she hasn’t done any work around her unmet developmental needs. Keep in mind that it isn’t inevitable that this will happen, it is just not uncommon.

Q:  What do you think causes someone to be a narcissist?

A: Many times a narcissistic wound can develop in infancy. If a baby is not being cared for, if no one is responding to his or her cries for food and comfort, they develop mistrust. Shame begins to grow. They do not feel worthy. If their primary caregiver did not find them worthy enough to care for appropriately, then they must be a “bad person”. This is the idea that they internalize.

This is an example of the dynamic that takes place. A child will grow up with so much shame and rejection, will be dismissed in many ways and not valued so the narcissistic defense develops. They are unable to grow into adulthood with a healthy understanding of themselves and the world. Instead, they feel deeply ashamed. So much so that they spend their lives trying to hide it, avoid it, and cover it up with their image because they are trying to feel better about themselves. The self-absorption takes over.

Ultimately a narcissistic person is someone who feels so badly about themselves, so insecure and full of anxiety that they are overtaken with trying to make those feelings go away. They build up a wall around themselves so they can’t be hurt again. They feel so badly about themselves inside that their whole life then becomes focused on building an amazing image, being surrounded by incredible people, promoting themselves, etc. because this is how they find their self-worth. Unfortunately it tends to hurt anyone they come into contact with because they haven’t developed empathy. They can only focus on themselves and everything they do is to make themselves feel better about existing in the world.


Q:  What are some of the methods you use to treat someone who has been abused by a narcissist?

A: When people come to therapy for narcissistic abuse recovery one of the first things we start working on is identity. When you have been raised by narcissists you don’t have a loving empathic parent who reflects your identity back to you. Instead, you have a parent who projects themselves onto you. A narcissistic parent sees their children as extensions of themselves. They do not see their children as authentic individuals.

When kids grow up with this they go out into the world confused, lost, and even unsure how to think for themselves. They tend to be very codependent because they have been raised to meet the needs of their parent, not to live an independent life. In therapy we do a lot of work around codependency, developing identity, how to set up boundaries, and ultimately self-care. These are some key areas people need to develop when they have experienced narcissistic abuse. Even adults who are experiencing the abuse from another adult, whether it’s a romantic relationship or a friendship, still need to work through these key issues.


Q:  What’s the difference between a narcissist, an egomaniac and a megalomaniac?

A: HAHA, nice! Not a lot of difference. These different terms are used to emphasize different parts of narcissism. Narcissist is a much more clinical term used to describe a condition anywhere from a basic narcissistic wound to full blown narcissistic personality disorder. Egomaniac is a term that emphasizes a person’s obsessive preoccupation with themselves. Megalomaniac (that term cracks me up!) is used to describe a psychological condition someone has when they are obsessed with delusional thoughts and fantasies of wealth, power or omnipotence. I don’t hear many therapists using this term, although they do liven up the conversation. Personally I would refer to a megalomaniac as a full blown pathological narcissist.

Q:  What was your most challenging case?

A: Sorry, due to confidentiality I am unable to discuss my cases. I will say though that narcissists don’t tend to come to therapy unless they are mandated by the court for example. Another reason could be if they have come to a point in life where they are in so much emotional pain due to everyone in their lives finally leaving them, that they give counseling a try. This would most likely happen later in life as the typical narcissist believes they are perfect and definitely not in need of therapy.

Q:   Do you think social media and (ahem) blogging is making people more self absorbed?

A: I don’t know that social media in itself is making people more self-absorbed. I do think it has become an outlet for self promotion and image building. Like anything, this can be carried to the extreme. We have moved towards a virtual society. Many people spend more time with their friends on Facebook than they do in person. That isn’t going to change. That is just the way our culture is functioning now.

Social media certainly enables people to feed their narcissism. They begin to base their self worth on their online image; how many Facebook friends they have, how many “likes” they get, etc. They carefully tailor how others perceive them by what pictures they post and what kind of statuses they share. These tend to be always positive and flattering. Someone who already had narcissistic tendencies will definitely escalate in their self-promoting obsession as they use social media more and more.

Studies have shown that people who spend several hours a day on Facebook tend to be more narcissistic than others. I didn’t conduct that study, it’s just some information I have come across.

I don’t think social media has to make people more narcissistic. If you use it to enhance your life instead of show it off it can be fun and a great way to connect with people.

Q:  What famous person (living or dead) exhibits a text book example of NPD?

A: Well…I’d rather not mention one of the dozens of raving narcissists who are alive today. Considering their issues with image I wouldn’t want to risk coming home to a hit man in my apartment. There are so many in our society that I could name though…alive and well, bullying people through the media, politics, corporate powermongering, etc…Some of them need a time out.

A text book example of a deceased narcissist, may he rest in peace, is Pablo Picasso. I’m kind of an art junkie so he easily comes to mind for me. Obsessed with power, control, domination, and perfection, he got what he wanted, whenever he wanted it, as much of it as he wanted. He was above the rules, demanded rules didn’t apply to him, and ruthlessly made his way to the top while taking out whomever he could and wanted on his way (the fact that he was a genius didn’t hurt either). He had affairs, abused his children, ranted, raved, deceived and got his way no matter what. He hurt many people and left a legacy of crippling pain to his children. Very sad.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)