Sacred Ground Healing   

Pam Wood, MA, ATR 

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Art Therapy
Photo by G. Douglas Byers

There is a communion that occurs when we focus upon our creativity.  This inner dialogue (or prayer) between self and spirit is the seed from which art springs forth. Creative expression, with its infinite variations, is the sweet song of our soul.  Through sharing our unique song with others, we each help to bring greater joy and healing to the world. 

–Open Heart, Mara Berendt Friedman

Images are our umbilical cord to Spirit
- Gerald Epstein, MD

What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy taps into our creativity, where our deepest capacity for healing resides.  Experiential processes, such as art, music, guided meditation, time in nature, and interactive group activities engage our whole being—mind, heart, body, and spirit—thus offering tremendous transformative potential for people of all ages and walks of life.

Art is one of many interventions I may use to assist you on your path of self-discovery, healing, and wholeness.  Art therapy techniques must be skillfully tailored to each individual, depending on one’s abilities, comfort level, and needs.  I am committed to the use of creative and experiential activities because of their transformative power and their ability to move each of us along the path of discovering a deeper sense of meaning, balance and connection in one’s life.

"We grow in understanding, I believe, by exercising both our powers of reason and    discrimination (our “left-brain” attributes), as well as by nurturing our visual, imaginative, metaphoric, and intuitive sides (our “right-brain” attributes).  It is through the marriage of the left and the right—science and spirit—that wisdom and transformation most readily emerge.”  –Christopher Uhl, Developing Ecological Consciousness:  Path to a Sustainable World

Art Therapy with Children          
Art therapy is often quite well-received by children and teens who are reluctant to discuss their lives with traditional “talk therapists.”  Art is a language that feels familiar to many children and adolescents, while offering a safe, more indirect way to address feelings and difficult issues.  This medium often feels more comfortable for kids than discussing their feelings directly.  Parental involvement is a crucial aspect of my treatment approach when working with children and teens.

Art Therapy with Families
Art used within the context of family therapy allows families to interact within the session, and then to discuss those interactions with the therapist, and how these observed interactions are similar to and different from family interactions at home.  Making art helps younger family members participate fully in a session, rather than have our time dominated by “adult talk.”  It levels the playing ground and gives all family members a common language to use within the session.  

Art Therapy with Adults
Many of us dwell “in our heads” in our professional lives, and our minds can both aid and hinder our honest self-growth.  Art therapy provides a fresh outlook on problems that we have sometimes looked at exhaustively with our mind.   It encourages integration of our intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual knowings, allowing  our “wise mind” to emerge and guide our healing process.

Cooperative, Interactive, Hands-on Groups for Kids
I have years of experience offering interactive, hands-on groups for kids of all ages.  These groups utilize art, cooperative games, and challenge-course activities which aim to enhance social awareness, friendship skills, frustration tolerance, problem-solving, self-esteem, and leadership skills.  These engaging experiential groups capture the attention of participants, tap into their strengths, and motivate them to function positively within a peer group.  

Among the team-building groups I have offered are:  
  • De La Salle North Catholic High School:  Community Building games and activities for freshman class, emphasizing teamwork, cooperation, and acceptance of diversity.  Summer 2008, Winter 2010.
  • St. Andrew Nativity School:  Community Building, ongoing summer school class emphasizing leadership development, cooperation, and social skills, Summer 2005, 2006, 2007.
  • Jesuit Volunteer Corps Orientation Retreat: Team-building activities for 75 volunteers beginning one year of full-time volunteer service, August 2003, 2004.
  • Thomas Edison High School:  Community-building activities for student body, September of 2000, 2002, 2003.
  • Lincoln High School and North Portland Challenge Course:  Community-building activities for freshmen, September 2000.
  • Pacific Crest Outdoor Leadership School:  Team-building activities for 6th graders embarking on a hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, June, 1995.

Hands-On Groups for Teens          
As kids leave childhood and enter puberty, their developmental needs change.  Their relationship with peers and their success within their social group become more important, and this is a sign of normal, healthy development.  This means that groups are often more interesting to teens, and more effective in addressing their needs.  Groups are also being offered more in schools and mental health settings due to financial constraints.  Mental health professionals and teachers can be more successful if they learn to make their groups more engaging and less didactic in nature.  This training offers hands-on experience and multiple techniques and activities to breathe new life into your groups!

My Approach
I use narrative and systems theory approaches to understand people’s mental, emotional, behavioral and relational difficulties.  I collaborate with clients to find creative, resourceful solutions that best fit their lives.  I believe that all children and families have tremendous creative potential to resolve their problems and transform their lives and their relationships into fuller, happier, more meaningful ones. 

As an art therapist and a mental health counselor, I have practiced in a variety of therapeutic settings.  I work with groups, families, and individuals of all ages, from young children to adolescents and adults.  I use both verbal and expressive therapy techniques--including art, music, relaxation and mindfulness, guided imagery, and cooperative games--to  elp people grow and change.   When working with children, or with groups of any age, I strive to provide engaging sessions, using experiential techniques such as art, music, creativity and outdoor experiences where relevant.  I also offer training and consultation for schools and mental health professionals.

I am currently the school counselor at a private, inner-city high school.  I have worked for sixteen years with children of all ages in community mental health, day treatment and school settings.

I practice under the code of ethics established by the American Art Therapy Association.  I strive to provide services that meet the needs of you and your family, and I welcome your feedback.  I find both positive and constructive feedback supportive in my work as a therapist and my growth as a human being.  At regular intervals in treatment, I will invite us to stop and evaluate progress, and to discuss whether therapy is meeting your needs. You are welcome to request this at any time. 

Workshops and Trainings for Teachers, Counselors, and Therapists

Art Therapy Trainings:  Many counselors and social workers are interested in learning art therapy techniques to incorporate into their work with clients.  Using the Expressive Therapies Continuum,  and actual clinical examples from individual, group, and family therapy, this training offers mental health professionals basic knowledge in art media so that they can enhance their work with clients through art while using this powerful tool in a responsible and ethical way.  Group therapy is a powerful modality that is also becoming increasingly popular in community mental health settings, yet many practitioners have little experience in this area, and are intimidated by the prospect of keeping 10-12 teens interested for a group.  I teach practitioners how to provide successful, engaging, hands-on groups for children and teens.  Among the trainings and workshops I have offered are:
  • Creativity and Healing:  Art Therapy for Clinical Practitioners, Idaho State University, July 2007
  • Using Art in Your Therapy Practice, staff training for Marion County Children’s Mental Health, February, 2001
  • Using Art in Your Therapy Practice, staff training for FamilyWorks, November 1998
  • Hands-On Social Skills and Leadership Groups for Middle School Youth from Multi-Stressed Families, Oregon School Counselor Association Conference, Hood River, OR, October 2005
  • Experiential Activities Training, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, December 2003  
To discuss fees and/or schedule a training, contact me at or call 503-708-9751.

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