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Would you like to play with glow-in-the-dark markers or kinetic sand while cozied up in a room that may include black lighting, music, and the vibrant color indigo? Indigo, the color psychologists say is associated with intuition and self-expression, is a combination of deep blue and violet. It’s also included in the name of Indigo Art Therapy Studio, co-founded by Kelly DeSousa and Sarah Beaman, my daughter in law.

Located in Jacksonville’s artsy Riverside district, Indigo Art Therapy Studio enables individuals to learn how to create their own healing through art therapy, yoga instruction, and personalized mindfulness practices.

Like Kelly, Sarah is a master’s level registered art therapist and certified ESE (exceptional student education) teacher. She has also served as CSS Site Coach (Autism) for Duval county Public Schools.

I met Sarah as our son Joel’s girlfriend when both were art majors at Florida State University in Tallahassee. After they married in 1996 and moved to Chicago, they took turns getting graduate degrees, hers in art therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

If good parenting skills are among the requirements for success as an art therapist, Sarah fills the bill. My interactions with Sarah now usually include grandsons Curtis and Ian and husband Joel. Recently though, we collaborated to create this blog post focusing on her work at the newly formed Indigo Art Therapy Studio. Here are highlights from our interview:

MLB  How did you come up with the name Indigo for your art therapy practice with Kelly?

SEB  We liked the idea of self-expression and creativity that the color indigo suggests.

MLB  What is your mission? (Mission statement from Indigo website.)

MLB  You and Kelly have an art therapy studio now, but when you first came to Jacksonville you had a different job. Tell us about how you got started, Sarah. What has been your career path to this point?

SEB  Ever since age 18, I have always worked with children and teens, beginning as a camp counselor – helping by listening and guiding. After I got my master’s degree, my work with youth has always included art.

MLB  You design workshops using paper with crayons/markers, special lighting, and mood music. Couldn’t every one set up an art therapy studio like this and invite in clients?

SEB  Art therapists have specialized skills. Practitioners need to know what materials evoke certain responses from each client. It takes training and practice to know that.

MLB Your invitation to clients is all-inclusive. Yet many of your clients have special needs. Can you name some of them?

SEB  Our specialty is helping children with autism and related disabilities including low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

MLB  After you conduct an assessment, you design a therapy plan. What might this plan include, say for a child lacking coping skills?

SEB  We might start with colored markers. Or we may use calming exercises like deep breathing, working with clay or squishy sand.

 

MLB  Do you serve older clients too?

SEB   Yes, we offer all the same services for older clients. Our tagline is “Art for all, ages 4 – 94!”

MLB  What activities would you use with a client, say one with trauma? Or with memory loss?

SEB  Here’s an example: We can have clients paint with tea bags. The smell may bring back memories of past experiences.


 

Kelly and Sarah’s studio includes a waiting room, a one-on-one treatment room, and the famous multi-purpose Indigo Room offering a glow in the dark sensory experience and a mermaid pillow. Here’s a photo tour:

The Indigo Room

 

Fantasize with the Mermaid Pillow!

 

In July 2017 psychotherapist Janeen Herskovitz, featured Sarah and Kelly on a special podcast. Here are a few excerpts:

  • We use allergen-free materials, focusing on a tactile, sensory-rich experience.
  • Before we start a session, we set out materials, observing what a person is drawn to.
  • We recommend creating a sacred space in your home for children to be allowed to make messes.
  • Everyone is an artist but not everyone wants to do art as a career.

Hear the entire podcast here.

Find Indigo Art Therapy on Facebook for lots more color and sound.

 

What other questions or comments do you have for Sarah or Kelly? 

Are you familiar with art therapy? Is there a studio in your town?

 

 

Coming next: Standing on the Promises, A Golden Wedding Anniversary

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