Ana-Maria Comia

Art Therapist

About Ana-Maria

Whether you are re-taking control of your life and starting over or you are looking to set time aside for your mental wellbeing, Art Therapy can help. Art Therapy is widely used as an auxiliary treatment for depression, illness and chronic pain, addiction and trauma. Children and Youth particularly respond well to Art Therapy as it offers a less confrontational approach to counseling.

I have experience working with children and youth with various challenges stemming from parental separation, anxiety disorders, grief and loss and especially difficulties with social inclusion and feeling outcasted. I encourage you to reach out and start your wellness journey. I truly look forward to showing you how Art Therapy can help better your life.

I am an Art Therapist with over six years of experience providing trauma informed mental health and addictions support to vulnerable clients in Surrey. Art Therapy is a treatment approach that combines the creative process and psychotherapy, facilitating self-exploration and understanding.

A common misconception is that artistic ‘skill’ or ‘talent’ is required to benefit from art therapy. In fact, many artists find that their perfectionistic attitude towards their skill level promotes anxiety and a sense of failure. The purpose of Art Therapy is to promote wellness by engaging your creativity, playfulness and problem solving skills.

I have a Masters Level Diploma in Art Therapy from Vancouver Art Therapy Institute which followed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from University of British Columbia. My training background and experience includes community outreach, addictions and trauma work and family counselling. I have extensive experience working with children, teens and families and have a personal interest in connecting with families who are newly arrived in Canada.

As a young person who experienced uprooting one’s life and moving across the world to start over, I quickly found my passion working with children and youth in Surrey neighbourhoods where the kids often acted as English interpreters for their parents. These families had the unique challenge of finding that their children were more independent and capable of navigating their new environment and culture than they were. The disconnection and alienation they experienced created large gaps in communication causing anger and hurt on both sides. The youth centre programs I ran helped bridge this gap allowing the kids to draw strength from their resilience and find creative ways of engaging their parents and bringing the community together. I also participated in community outreach, forging alliances with at risk youth vulnerable to homelessness and addiction.

More recently I have been working with women struggling with trauma and multiple barriers (justice system involvement, homelessness, generational trauma, addiction) and found that Art Therapy provided something that regular psychotherapy couldn’t – a way to own their story and become authors of their own experience, creating something tangible out of their pain and self-advocating in the process.

How I work with clients:

I work with clients in a variety of ways and I cater my methods to my client’s needs and therapeutic goals. Often, I will introduce a client to a theme and suggest a directive which will touch on or evoke a response in that theme.

An example would be working with the theme of identity. I would ask the client to create a sculptural lifeline which would showcase their life journey, major life events, accomplishments etc. The client will have an opportunity to choose the size of the sculpture, materials used (wire, paper mache, cardboard, string) and which events or information to include. Some clients prefer to talk about their process while they are creating, while others prefer to discuss their results upon completion. A theme can be explored over a number of sessions and through various directives like masks, photos, body tracings, sculpture.

The resulting artistic product is the property of the client and retains the same confidentiality protection as the context discussed in a session. It is up to the client how the art is handled, stored or disposed of. As well, a client’s permission is required to share the art with others outside of the scope of supervision.

Here are some specific examples of clients I work with/have worked with in the past:

    • Child whose parents have recently separated and is experiencing extreme separation anxiety
    • Mother and young (4) child, fleeing domestic abuse and child acting out through aggression towards Mom
    • Young adult woman recently moved out from home due to Mom’s substance use, struggling with self-worth and depression.
    • Young woman awaiting trial for robbery, with multiple childhood trauma incidents, survivor of incest.
    • Autistic child experiencing alienation from peers and loneliness, rejection.
    • Autistic adult, exploring their authentic self and wanting to delve into their masking behaviour and repression of their intrinsic self regulation mechanisms.
    • Child who recently experienced the loss of an estranged parent due to suicide.

Symptom Specializations

Demographics

Google Rating
4.6
Based on 79 reviews
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