June 19, 2019 | By Pooja Bakri, MPS, LCAT, ATR-BC

Tell us about yourself

I received my undergraduate degree (BFA) from the Maryland Institute College of Art. I then received my MPS Art Therapy degree from the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Since receiving my degree, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of working in both community and outpatient settings. I currently offer art therapy services to both children and adults through my private practice in Montclair, NJ.

What excites (or inspires) you most about your job/studies right now?

One of the things that truly inspires me right now in my work is the theme of human connectivity, and the idea that there is more that connects us to one another than that which sets us apart. I feel very fortunate to join in this journey with my clients as we discover ways in which we are not alone in both our challenges and our hopes for the future.

Has working with a particular client group shaped your professional focus or specialty? What have you learned from working with these clients?

Prior to starting my private practice, I worked with a PALS program (Peace-A Learned Solution) which provided creative art therapy to children who have been exposed to domestic violence. This experience was inspiring in that I was able to witness how resilient children can be — despite adverse childhood experiences. Many of these children were able to find their voice and share their unique story through the art and play. I learned how vital it is that programs like these continue to receive funding and are made available to communities in need.

What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing a career in art therapy?

I believe that part of being able to share the process with others, is experiencing the process for yourself. Always continue making your own art. This will allow you to see first-hand the various ways in which the creative process provides opportunities to heal and grow.

What are your hopes for the future of the art therapy profession?

One of my hopes for the art therapy profession in the future is that it becomes a mental health option that is more accessible to families and communities.

“Tightrope” by Pooja Bakri. Acrylic, Collage and Ink on paper. 2017.

Artist’s statement: “Memory is a focal point for much of my work as an artist and art therapist. I am interested in memories that we experience first-hand, as well as memories that are passed down to us. My creative process involves the layering of imagery and mediums. Patterns and symbols are often erased and distorted, while always building over a foundation of what has come before. Some characters are clear and in the foreground, while others are muted and pulse beneath them. It is this process that aids in giving visual form to the complex and ephemeral act of recollection.”

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