May 14, 2024 | By Devika Parmar, AMFT

Since entering the field of art therapy, I have often wondered: what makes an art therapist?

I completed my Masters in Marital and Family Therapy last year and was taught the clinical foundations of this work, thus graduating as an art therapist. However, as a pre-licensed therapist that does not work primarily with the modality of art therapy, I’ve reflected over the last months especially how and in what ways my identity as an art therapist can still exist as central in my work.

I recall a memorable meeting with my art therapy supervisor in the final semester of my program when she encouraged me to see art therapy not only as what we do with our patients but also as the lens through which we approach the work itself. When art therapy is difficult to practice within my work setting, can I still use the art to reflect about what’s evoked in me by my clients? Can I still maintain my identity as an artist and use it to build community?

In many ways, these last two inquiries have guided me and kept me anchored in the art as I entered the field.


A year and a half ago, a fellow artist, Rishikesh Tirumala, and I started running art events out of my living room. On a whim, we created a card deck to add helpful constraints to the art-making process and take people through a process of learning about themselves and one another through the art. (Photo at right.)

The event would culminate in everyone’s art being taped on the bright yellow wall of my dining room and one by one, participants would share their experiences and open the floor for reflections about what others noticed in their work. We used this space to talk about ways of relating to art through non-value based language and to consider what feeling an art piece evokes, what the eye is drawn towards, or even what memory is conjured by someone’s piece. This project was rooted in principles of connection and community, though was very much born in the spirit of art education.

Since those early days in my dining room, the art events have evolved into what we now know as Everyday Art Club.

We’ve run 17 events thus far, many from my dining room and others from commercial spaces such as bookstores or community spaces like Wave Collective in San Francisco. (Photo at right.)

Collaborations have allowed us to expand what’s possible, such as working with other South Asian artists and small business owners at a South Asian holiday market or participating in BLM LA’s Black Women Are Divine event where we hosted an art-making table alongside other meaningful healing arts.

Art Club starts with the core belief that creativity and art-making are for everyone. Through society’s conceptions of aesthetic and value, many of us lose connection with our inner creativity, and this facilitated container is meant to first explore our inner artist and then be witnessed by others for our inherent capacity to make.

“Art Club starts with the core belief that creativity and art-making are for everyone.”

As I grow as a therapist, flying towards the increased freedom that comes with MFT licensure, Everyday Art Club has been a way to demonstrate art’s healing capacity outside of the clinical. I make clear at our events that we are not providing art therapy – that the art therapy includes the use of psychological theories and methods in addition to the inherent enjoyment of artmaking. And still, as is made abundantly clear through our events, art-making for community building, for self-reflection, can still exist and provide deep meaning to those who consider themselves unskilled or intimidated by an art-making process. 


 Over the last years, many beautiful things have been said about Everyday Art Club and I’d like to leave you with two of these sentiments:

  • Art club is a place where I’m inspired by the constant reminder of our shared humanity that we find through art.
  • Art club was my inner child being creative with my adult self.

Stay connected with the Everyday Art Club on Instagram @Everyday.Art.Club


About Devika Parmar, AMFT

Devika Parmar is an artist, art therapist, and associate marriage and family therapist residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her MA in Marital and Family Therapy with a concentration in art therapy from Loyola Marymount University and currently works as an Associate Post-Masters Fellow at Kaiser Permanente in the Adult Psychiatry department.

She also runs a pop-up called everyday art club which serves to foster self-reflection and community through art-making. Prior to becoming an art therapist, Devika trained as a coach at a digital therapy startup, Joyable, and as a Group Facilitator for arts-based psychosocial support for survivors of trauma through First Aid Arts.

Learn more about Devika in her Featured Member profile. Follow her on Instagram @devikaparmar