July 27, 2017

Laura Spinelli, ATR, LPC is Director of Giant Steps, an arts-driven outpatient program for Veterans, at Veterans Affairs (VA) Connecticut.  In Giant Steps, Ms. Spinelli and her team facilitate art therapy groups for Veterans with mental health challenges.  In her ten years at the VA, she also founded and implemented a Creative Recovery program in the Substance Abuse clinic and an art therapy group specific to Veterans with military PTSD called Art of the Brave.  Ms. Spinelli is on the faculty of Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT and supervises art therapy graduate students.  She has served as the Governmental Affairs Chair on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Art Therapy Association and is currently the Veterans Affairs Policy Advisor for the AATA.

Ms. Spinelli most values her AATA membership for the opportunity to connect with other art therapists and the ability to access resources that help promote and educate about art therapy.   She describes how art therapy is effective, “Art therapy taps into something, unlike any other therapy–it allows one to find their voice through the creative process, to tell their story, to heal and reinvent the self and to be understood – all without the need for words.”

She is a strong advocate for more art therapy positions within the VA system to ensure access for all veterans and is currently working with a team of VA art therapists to develop a Guidebook of Standards and Practices for art therapists in the VA system.  In addition to independent art therapy licensure in every state, Spinelli hopes to see wider “recognition of art therapists as clinicians – as opposed to recreation therapists or activity therapists.”


“Camille Claudel: Artist Interrupted” by Laura Spinelli. Acrylic and pastel on canvas. June, 2017, work in progress.

 Artist statement: I am working on a series of bold paintings featuring female artists, and female muses of famous artists, who have compelling life stories.