Some frequently asked questions that may help you in your explorations. If you have other questions, please contact us via the contact page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether you are new to therapy or not, questions often arise with a new provider. Below are some of the most common questions people ask us. Please reach out if you need more information. We are always happy to help! Remember that YOU are the most important piece of the therapeutic relationship. Shop around for your therapist as you would for any big purchase in your life....after all this is the biggest one of all, your life! Remember that you have the right to an experience that is positive and validating as well as feeling connection and respect. Not every person is a "good fit" so just as you decide who you want in your life in a relationship or friendship, your therapist should be screened and selected as carefully.
I've never done this before and I don't know where to begin.
You are in good company. Who knows what to do when facing a new experience? Searching online and finding this website (and hopefully others as well!) is a great place to start. You may also need to consider your insurance coverage and can find authorized providers through your insurance website or by calling the customer service number on your insurance card. Other places to find referrals are through your medical providers or by going on the website Psychology Today. Many therapists offered phone consultations or face-to-face consultations to see if there is a good connection. If you choose to make an appointment, you are not locked into anything, if it feels like you are doing good work, stay, if not, keep looking. It can be a frustrating process to find a provider but with the right people, amazing things can happen.
Ok, but that art therapy thing?
Many of the "alternative" therapies, from art therapy to behavioral therapy to EMDR, are not always part of every day knowledge. I encourage an open mind about all the possibilities out there. Not everything will work for every person. Art therapy can be transformative and help unlock things that we don't even know are there. As with any type of therapy, you have to let yourself commit and engage in the process for it to have an impact. That is true for any therapy. Art therapy may feel weird. Art therapists use markers, paint, pencils, clay, collage....anything to help someone uncover the things that are tucked away but eating away at us. So, why is art therapy different other than using art materials? When someone comes to therapy, they often have an idea of what they want to talk about: their childhood, their stress, their trauma. This is what we are aware of but all the stuff underneath is what drives the stress or emotion. That is what needs to be uncovered. Art allows us to find these things that are covered up. Have you ever had the experience of remembering something so clearly and vividly it's like a photograph? That image is how that experience has been recorded in the brain, as a picture. How do you connect the image with words in order to integrate and process? Art is the shortcut to connection. By using an image to process the memory, we not only take the image out into the open but we engage our minds in a different way that helps us to connect words and pictures.
I sort of get that but I can't draw.
Art therapy is not about drawing well or being "artistic". If we wanted a picture perfect image, then we'd give out cameras. Art therapy attempts to explore, perceive, interpret, process, and reframe, all of the things troubling us. An art therapist might recommend using a particular form of drawing or sculpting with clay but it is the process, not the product that matters. Often, someone says that they don't want to put in "all this work" for a piece of art that "sucks". Art created via therapy is not necessarily for display or decoration, it is for inspiration. The piece is reflective of the therapy. Don't separate the art from the therapy...it is art therapy. Would you put a diary page in a frame on the wall? Probably not. There are also what we would call "non threatening" materials. Collages are a great way to focus on image without the anxiety attached to "good drawing". It's human nature to want to draw well or not do it at all! Cutting, ripping, gluing- these are skills that we learn pretty young. A final thing to think about, when was the last time you drew? For many of us, its about 11 or 12 years old, when art classes go from mandatory to elective. So why wouldn't your art look like "a kid did it". You were a kid the last time you did it! If the product is important, you can keep working on your skills and improve. Otherwise know that, we, as trained providers, know that not everyone can "draw". That doesn't matter- what matters is will this help you heal?
What sort of problems do you see in your practice?
The majority of Ms. Shahverdian's work has been with adults, approximately high school and above, though clients have aged 3-87. Ms. Shahverdian has completed special training and extensive professional work with addiction and recovery, dual diagnosis (mental health and substance), bipolar disorder, mood disorders (depression, anxiety, etc.), increasing self-esteem and motivation, and improving communication skills. I work with individuals, couples, and families. Ms. Shahverdian works with the LGBTQIA+ (LGBTQQIP2SAA: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit (2S), androgynous, and asexual) community, individuals who are pre- or post op or exploring gender dysphoria. LiveBreatheLoveCreate has worked with medical and insurance requirements within current systems, providing documentation to pursue gender reassignment procedures. When inquiring about any of these specialized areas, please let us know your preferred pronouns.
What kind of training have you had?
Robin L. Shahverdian (ATR-BC, CLAT, LPC...other fancy initials) has a bachelors degree from Smith College, a graduate degree in mental health counseling and art therapy from Springfield College, and is completing a doctorate in psychology at California Southern University. Ms. Shahverdian is licensed in Connecticut as a mental health counselor and a board certified registered art therapist with the American Association of Art Therapists. All licensed professionals are required to complete graduate school with specific coursework, on-the-job supervised hours both before and after graduation, and take an exam after graduate as well as taking educational courses and training throughout the year and renewing annually. This is done to make sure you have the best care and your provider is up to date on the newest research. Ms. Shahverdian has completed workshops in sand-tray therapy, family therapy, military specific training, meditation and mindfulness, and trauma services in addition to her training in mental health counseling and art therapy. Ms. Shahverdian has worked at non-profit agencies, in hospital settings, and as a crisis clinician in a hospital emergency room. Ms. Shahverdian has worked with adolescents through adults in a range of settings, working in groups, with individuals, and with families.
Ummm...CLAT??? What is that????
Connecticut approved licensure for art therapists in 2019. CLAT stands for certified licensed art therapist. This means the license holder has to keep up with education and training standards. The national art therapy board already holds ATR standards so not much has changed except that you are protected from people who have not had art therapy training using art therapy in your treatment. Just as things like hypnosis, surgery...any speciality, need proper training as so not to harm the client so does art therapy. A good clue is that if a provider doesn’t know why they don’t need training “it’s just drawing”, they don’t know enough about art therapy to practice on you. State licensure also means insurance companies will eventually cover art therapy. (This doesn’t mean insurance won’t cover your treatment. As a licensed counselor, Ms. Shahverdian provides insurance covered services).
How long will this take?
That is a hard question to answer. Months maybe, maybe years, depending on each person. During the process of therapy, different things come up. Each of those concerns will have to be healed in its own time and own way. Sometimes, things that we thought were over and done, come back to us later and may need to be dealt with in a different way. There are also options for brief therapy in which a specific problem is identified and worked on to your satisfaction and may be the natural end of your therapy. It is also not unusual for someone to hit a "plateau" where you may feel satisfied with your present life, you may feel you need a break from therapy, or you have stabilized and are in a good place, but don't rule out a return to therapy. The one request we have of people is to honestly assess their progress throughout, on their own and with your therapist. Human nature is to run or hide from the tough stuff. You may have that reaction and want to run away. Take a moment to talk that out in a session and decide if you are in a good place or if you are trying to avoid the "tough stuff". You might not be ready to deal with something either and that is okay. Again, try to be honest with yourself about where you are and what you want to do. Talk it over and make the decision that works best for you and your healing process.
What should I expect for the first session?
First sessions are almost like first dates. We sit together, talk a bit about what is going on in your life, what you would like to be different, and a little about your history. This gives us a chance to see if there is a connection to build on so that you can get the best healing environment that you need and you deserve. We will also go over practical information such as filling out demographic forms and privacy policies, similar to a medical office, review payment plans and insurance. The process takes about an hour in total to gather the information we both need to make the best decision possible.
How much is this going to cost me?
LiveBreatheLoveCreate accepts CT state insurance (Husky), Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, Aetna, and Cigna. Fees vary depending on your network plan. If you are paying out of pocket, there is a fee schedule based on the type and length of appointment. We are happy to work with you on an equitable payment plan, sliding fees, or as an out of network provider. Payments can be made by check, credit card, HSA or FSA card, or cash.