May 7, 2024

The American Art Therapy Association represents a diversity of professionals, students, and organizations across the nation. We recognize and celebrate the work of our members at all levels through our Featured Member series.

We invite Featured Members to share their insights and experiences about their work, clients, and art therapy journey. 

What excites you most about your job right now?

I am excited about beginning the second innings in my life at 50 (almost!), where I have changed my profession from Financial Services to being in a mental health profession. I am excited about working with two distinctly different populations: children in the age group of 7-15 years in a family counseling services and in a hospital inpatient (adult) psychiatric unit.

Has working with a particular client group shaped your professional focus or specialty? 

I have learnt to bring my full self to each session and develop my presence and attunement with a children’s population. They amaze me every day with their grit, resilience, humor, creativity, and imagination while in distress. I grow each day working with them and learning so much from them. Work is fun and rejuvenating!


In my life as an artist, I discovered a sanctuary of healing within the realm of colors and forms. That’s what I wanted to share with the world when I started the journey to become an art therapist. Shedding the rigid confines of expectations, I unearthed transformative energies residing within my brush strokes.”      — Soma Vajpayee

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

I am the first art therapist that my practice has hired. I hope that more and more art therapists are incorporated in Clinical and medical space as a part of the treatment provided for mental health seekers. 

I feel that art therapists are not treasured enough or paid their due. I wish that there is that change in this world, so that art therapists are not burnt out doing 2-3 jobs to sustain themselves. I wish that we stand strong as a tribe and support each other.

My art explores the eternal within the ephemeral. In our lives, we vividly remember moments of peace, rejuvenation, energy, hope, and love. When memory strips out the cognitive deluge of our time, a feeling lingers even as the details retreat. How we feel about sights, moments and experiences define our memories, which become anchors in our lives.

My experiences with art have helped me find solace during challenging times. During the first months of Covid-19, I painted 100 pieces in 100 days, and I remember the process of creation as grounding, reflective experience in those days.


How have race and social justice impacted your work as an art therapist?

In New York, I live with my family in a community that is diverse which has helped me increase my awareness of different cultures. Being Indian by origin, having lived in different parts of the world, and bringing up children of my own in this country helps me understand nuanced points of view of cultures and ethnicities. My experiences have exposed me to the evolving conversations around race, diversity, and social justice. I have pursued higher studies and worked in India and Hong Kong before moving to the States, and in the last 5 years I have earned a Masters in Art therapy. In my practice, I find being attuned to cultural and social justice issues enhances my ability to create a safe and inclusive space for clients from various backgrounds.

Is there anything you would like to share? 

In my life as an artist, I discovered a sanctuary of healing within the realm of colors and forms. That’s what I wanted to share with the world when I started the journey to become an art therapist.

Shedding the rigid confines of expectations, I unearthed transformative energies residing within my brush strokes. The simple act of wandering through nature’s embrace became a conduit for joy, an opportunity to witness its glory up close. I transferred these moments of serenity onto the canvas and paper, infusing each stroke with the calm I felt within. The creative process, a language of self-expression, emerged as a balm, offering catharsis.

Within the fluidity of watercolors, I learned the art of relinquishing control, embracing imperfections as colors converged where I least expected. The tension, the struggle that danced within the creation, unveiled itself as an integral fragment of the process, a catalyst for change. Amidst the allure of instantaneous validation portrayed by social media, I discovered the discipline in creating many versions of the artwork, often letting go the idea of a “perfect picture”.

My paintings are an extension of my spirit, daring to embrace life’s complexities and uncertainties with open arms. I believe passionately in art therapy, it came into my life as I am nearing 50! But I now have the opportunity to share it with others till the end of my life!


Roma is captured staying attuned to a client who is looking through fabrics during art therapy.

Growth. 2021. Watercolor
Soma Vajpayee

Artist’s Statement: In my watercolor paintings, I try to capture the delicate beauty of flowers and the tranquility of nature in vibrant hues. My artwork serves as a personal expression of my inner journey, reflecting the emotions and experiences that have unfolded along my path.

About Soma Vajpayee, LP-CAT (MA, Art Therapy)

In 2023, I completed my Masters in Art Therapy at NYU to convert my intuitive knowledge I have gained in art into academic qualifications backed by evidence based research to be able to work in the mental health space. I work as the Child Therapist at Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Services and weekend creative therapist at St. Vincent’s Hospital at Harrison in the psychiatric unit while I’m accruing hours to secure my ATR-BC, LCAT license.

As a mother, a former banker, an executive coach, and co-founder of an ed-tech start-up, I cherish experiences from the diverse roles in my life and express myself through bold brush strokes and a vibrant palette (mostly oils). I am a self-taught painter, having started painting at the age of six.

I have had many solo exhibitions: June 2011 (Hong Kong), April 2014 (Mumbai), March 2015 (Prague), November 2016 (Hong Kong), September 2016 (Hong Kong), October 2015 (Mumbai) and April 2020 Greenburgh Town Hall (Westchester, NY), and Aug 2023 in Greenburgh Library. I have also participated in a few group shows in New York and Westchester as a part of Mamaroneck Artist Guild (2020-2023), Artswestchester (May 2021) and Rye Art Centre (Sept 2022).

Learn more about Soma on her website,, or follow her on Instagram @art_by_soma