BA, 1997, Psychology, Loyola University, Chicago; MAAT, 2002, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Credentials: Registered/Board Certified Art Therapist; Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Member of Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers. Concurrent Positions: Director, Midwest Harm Reduction Institute; Instructor, Mount Mary College, 2008 & 2011; Postgraduate Supervisor, 2010–current. Exhibitions: ArtWorks, Chicago; Brickton Gallery, Park Ridge, IL; Fulton Street Collective, Chicago; Pilates, Chicago; River East Art Center, Chicago. Presentations: SAIC Health Services & Resident Services; Loyola School of Social Work, Chicago; National Harm Reduction Conference, New Orleans; Mount Mary College, Milwaukee; Illinois Art Therapy Association, Chicago. Awards: Heartland Alliance Exceptional Merit Award, 2001. Publications: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy; Journal of Implementation Science; Journal of the American Art Therapy Association; Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Personal Statement

I approach my own and others' learning holistically. Through my engagement in clinical practice, research, and teaching, I can expand my understanding to all aspects of a subject. I am prepared with meaningful examples to offer my students to contextualize their learning of the material. Sharing stories has proven an effective way to help people connect to the material in both training of adult learners and teaching of Masters' level students. I have chosen to work with the most vulnerable individuals in our society, people who are homeless and living with serious mental illness, substance use disorders, and often a history of trauma. I am engaged in research projects related to implementation of evidence based practice, systems change, and e-learning strategies. I am also a founding and active member of ArtWorks, a community art studio oriented toward reducing the stigma associated with difference of all kinds. My work and my teaching approach are most closely aligned with a humanistic, critical engagement philosophy of reciprocal learning.

The essential elements that I focus on developing with students include the ability to see the connections and interrelatedness of the world, ability to think creatively, as well as distinguish between fact and opinion, the development of active listening skills, empathy or ability to understand the perspective and values of others, an openness to new ideas and embracing of identity as a lifelong learner. I utilize a combination of explanation, demonstration, collaboration and learning by doing and by teaching back to the class. Students are encouraged to draw upon their personal experiences and values about a subject, exploring a breadth of literature on the subject, and applying the knowledge and understanding to real world scenarios. Students are encouraged to reflect on their prior knowledge, preconceptions, values, thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and personal/family experience that could impact the work of counseling and therapy. Evaluative efforts are cumulative and focus on demonstrating thoughtful application of amassed knowledge.

My strength as a clinician and as an instructor is rapport and relationship building. At the beginning of the semester, I elicit from students: their existing knowledge, expertise, and beliefs on the subject, their expectations and hopes for the class, and agreed upon responsibilities and expectations. Throughout the course, I work to ensure curious and nonjudgmental responses to all offerings. I am an authentic person with students, in an effort to humanize myself and reduce the existing power differential as much as possible. I utilize humor and share stories. I draw students out and attend closely to all social cues. I employ motivational interviewing strategies to engage students in dialogue, and gently offer reflections and reframes so that they can explore more deeply their reactions to the material.

Students are given regular opportunities to offer their evaluation and feedback on the class and my teaching. I find that my students are generally satisfied and engaged in my classes. Many report increased sense of understanding their clients and how to engage them and assist them and a reduced frustration once they realize they are not responsible for people's success or failure. Students leave my class feeling better informed, passionate, and confident in their ability to engage in the therapeutic process.

Current Interests

Harm Reduction
Housing First
Substance Use Treatment (and it's reform)
Motivational Interviewing
Art Therapy
Clinical Supervision
Social Justice
Restorative and Transformative Justice


Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.