Painting for Art Therapy


Day-in-the-Life with Art Therapist Edie Morris


Our Art Therapist, Edie Morris, took over our instagram and showed us a typical day at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. We asked our community to send in questions for her to answer and compiled them below!

Q: What's your favorite art therapy activity, Edie?


A: My favorite activity is the adaptive pottery wheel and using mixed media to visually respond to questions or words related to a patient’s adjustment to changes in physical functioning.


Q: Why would a patient see an Art Therapist?


A: I think everyone can benefit from art therapy! The most common reasons are to cope with changes in functioning or hospitalization, process a traumatic event related to a patient’s injury, and/or learn new ways to create art with changes in physical and cognitive abilities.  

Q: What are your favorite mediums to use with patients or what's best for different ages?


A: I practice from a client-centered model so it really depends on the patient. Paint and clay are some of the most requested mediums to use by patients.

Q: Are there any special adaptive tools you or patients use?


A: Yes! We have a custom wheelchair accessible loom, adaptive pottery wheel, adaptive grips, art specific communication boards, and custom mouth painting/drawing easels.

Q: Do you ever work with OT or how does art therapy differ?


A: I love co-treating with OTs! The goals, training, and framework between Art Therapy and Occupational Therapy are different. Art Therapy can be a non-verbal approach to address mental health concerns and emotional wellness. One day I’d love to do an educational presentation with an OT to highlight the differences and benefits for collaboration.

Q: How many patients do you see a day?


A: Before COVID restrictions I got to see anywhere between 4-25 patients a day! Now, with no art therapy groups, I usually see between 4-5 patients a day.

Q: How does the art in the hospital inspire your work?


I think the artwork in the hospital expands patients' understanding of what art can be. It also serves as inspiration and fuels new creative ideas. 

Q: What made you decide to go into art therapy?


A: A passion for working with people, seeing firsthand the power art making can have on personal growth and community healing, and a drive to deconstruct systems that harm marginalized groups of people.

Q: How did you become an art therapist?


A: I attained my training, clinical hours and Masters in Art Therapy from the School of the Art Institute and hold an ATR credential and LPC license. I am currently working towards getting my ATR-BC and LCPC for additional credentials and licensure. You can learn more about the process and requirements to become an Art Therapist at The American Art Therapy Association website.

Q: What is your favorite form of self-care?


A: Creating things with my hands! Making art, gardening, cooking, yoga, reading, dancing, spending time with my loved ones, and going to therapy. 

Q: What's your favorite part of your job?


A: I love witnessing patients use their artwork and the creative process to see their own strengths and abilities.   

Q: Do you have to be good at art to be an art therapist?


A: Absolutely not! There is no such thing as good and bad art. Art Therapy is rooted in the creative process rather than the end product being “good”. It’s more important for me to be knowledgeable about a large range of art mediums and techniques and know which mediums are appropriate to use with patients based on their therapeutic goals.

Q: Any recommendations for someone who is thinking about going into art therapy?


A: Volunteer with different populations. Take an art therapy introduction course at a local university. Reflect on why you want to enter the field and be critical about your motives.


Thanks Edie! Learn more about our Art Therapy program.

Want to see behind the scenes photos and videos from Shirley Ryan AbilityLab? Follow us on instagram: @abilitylab

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