You do what?!

Every time I meet new people, they all inevitably ask me the exact same question: What do you do for work?  When I tell them I’m an Art Therapist and a Coach, I am usually met with one of two responses: A) “Oh, great!” sheepish smile, chuckle. “I’m sorry, what do you do?”  Or, B) Dumbfounded look, straight to the point, “You do what?!”

Of all the lucrative careers I could have chosen for myself, I have become passionately embedded in two of the newest, least respected professions: Art Therapy and Life Coaching.  This post is all about explaining, in detail, what it is I do as an Art Therapist and what I do as a Coach, and how the two are complementary and yet completely different.  If you are interested in how I use Art Therapy in Coaching, please refer to my ‘Services‘ page, and email me any questions.


It’s true; therapy has no place in coaching.  However, coaching can be sometimes useful in a professional therapeutic relationship.  For starters, let me point out the major differences between the two professions.

In a nutshell, a therapist uses questions, tools, assessments, and modalities to help you investigate.  A Coach, on the other hand, uses questions, tools, and modalities to act as your partner in changing a stated behavior or problem.

A Coach cares very little about where and how the behavior started.  As a Coach, I want to know what you want to change (you would like to stop smoking) and we will work together from today onward creating structured and personal goals.  Each week we will meet (by phone, Skype, or sometimes, in person) and my job is to hold you accountable to your goals.  We work together as partners rather than as helper (therapist) and helpless (client/patient).

On the other hand, therapy digs down to the root of the problem, whatever that problem may be.  You say you want to stop smoking?  A therapist will work closely with you to discover those underlying, hidden, roots that have led to this behavior that you would like to nix.  Once the roots are exposed, you will work closely in a therapeutic and supportive relationship to eliminate the behavior, through whatever modality or specialty the therapist offers (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? Art Therapy? Music Therapy? Psychoanalysis?)

As an Art Therapist, together we will use Creativity and the act of creating a finished product as a vehicle for communication.  Say what?!  I know, it’s difficult to grasp, which is why Art Therapist don’t often get the respect we deserve.  It is my job to understand your needs the best that I can, and to offer you creative experiences in a safe, therapeutic way that can allow you to peer inside of yourself, your Soul, your subconscious and unconscious.  Hard as it may be to believe, the unconscious speaks through imagery, which is why we dream at night.  Those same images, when manifested in a professional, safe, therapeutic environment with a trained Art Therapist, can be revealing, healing, telling of things we are unaware of, or even things we choose not to reveal.  Oh yes, it’s true, imagery tells all.  But, again, only when processed with a trained individual who understands what directives to use, which questions to ask, and how to create that safe space for the client/patient.  It is not our job to interpret, that is the job of the artist.  Rather, it is our job to reflect what you say and what you see in a way that can allow you to grieve, move forward, heal, progress, or whatever your need is at that time.

Interested? Feel free to email me with any questions, comments, or thoughtful revelations.

Happy Creating!!

– Rita


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