As a child in the mid 70’s, I had a family member that struggled with depression. Back then they called them “Nervous Breakdowns”. Leather wallets, belts, and moccasins were a popular craft at the time. Then, I never really understood what depression was. I only knew that my family member was sad. When they got out of the hospital, they would be happy, and I would get a new pair of moccasins!
As a cook working in a long-term care nursing facility, I saw a person playing guitar with a group of people. Everyone was really enjoying themselves! I was amazed by what I saw! After the group, I asked them what their profession was. They replied: “I am a Music Therapist.” I had never heard of Music Therapy. As we talked, I shared that I have an Undergraduate Degree in Fine Arts. She said I should explore a career in Art Therapy. I had no idea Art Therapy was a profession, but the more I thought about the sound “Mike Hoelzer, Art Therapist”, the more I got excited to find out about the profession.
Fortunately for me, Milwaukee has a great University (a College in my time) for Art Therapy training, Mount Mary. In 1997, I committed myself to the profession, and have not looked back. During my time at Mount Mary College, I met many great and legendary Art Therapists: Bruce Moon, Don Jones, Lynn Kapitan, Shaun McNiff, and Stan Strickland, to name a few. At that time, as I remember, the program had the feel of another great art school, Black Mountain College. Both were programs where creative exploration was encouraged through most any means, whether it was visual, music, dance, sound, performance, poetry, or any combination! Always, we discussed the clinical significance of the creative process to further patient care and healing. Our studious focus on the parallels between clinical presentation and creative application never wavered.
I began my internship at Rogers Behavioral Health (then Rogers Memorial Hospital) under the guidance of another great Art Therapist, Mary Kay Crawford. Mary Kay was a bit of a radical herself! She embraced creativity and healing on all levels. Most importantly, she encouraged me to always stay true to my Art Therapist identity. I remember after I observed a process group run by a Therapist. I was telling Mary Kay how neat I thought it was. She angrily scoffed at me saying: “If you want to be one of them, you can, but we are Art Therapists!”
Looking back, I had always known creativity, healing, and wellness are connected. I am grateful for what the Art Therapy profession has given me. I am honored to offer Art Therapy to others as a pathway to healing.
Laura Fuller-Cooper, MAAT, ATRL-BC, NCC
Laura is a Board Certified Art Therapist and a founding member of Milwaukee Art Therapy Collective. Laura is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has a credential in Early Childhood Education from UCLA, and has trained as a Waldorf Education teacher. Laura spent over 15 years as an art therapist and program psychotherapist at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital, working with patients in residential treatment, day treatment, partial hospital, and inpatient settings, as well as directing a clinical internship program for art therapy graduate and undergraduate students. Laura is currently an adjunct professor at Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and Mount Mary University.
Blanche Brown, MS, LPC, LMFT-IT
Blanche’s stepfather Robert Bonner was a talented artist and graphic designer. Only after his death did she realize that art was a valuable vehicle for dealing with loss, giving her a very tangible connection to memory and experience. Brown is an art therapist and marriage and family therapist who believes in the power of art to heal, sees the importance of supporting the family unit while advocating for change against the negative effects of systems, and supports those affected by trauma. Brown is an art and community activist whose work addresses social injustices and the psychological and psychosocial impact these issues have on undeserved and underrepresented groups. Her artwork provides a forum for youth, women, minorities, and diverse individuals to openly discuss the challenges they encounter. As a professional artist for over 20 years, Brown has exhibited both locally and nationally and has been a guest artist and artist-in-residence at several schools and community programs. Brown is a certified Yoga instructor who incorporates mindfulness and meditation to encourage a grounded perspective and lifestyle. She is also a public speaker and workshop presenter.
Erin Hein, ATR-BC, LPC
Erin is a Board Certified Art Therapist. Erin graduated from Mount Mary University in 2012. Erin has worked in the fields of medical art therapy at Advocate Aurora Healthcare for six years and has worked with adults with disabilities at Donna Lexa Art Centers for eleven years. Erin believes that art has the power to get into our soul and reveal hidden truths about whom we are. Throughout Erin’s practice, she strives to empower her clients to use the art process to learn more about themselves, while also establishing an identity of being an artist.
Justine Kopp, MS, ATRL-BC
Justine is a licensed, board-certified art therapist and received her Master of Science in Art Therapy from Mount Mary University in 2000. Over her years of clinical practice, Justine has worked in a variety of mental health settings with children, adolescents, adults and the elderly. For the past eight years and currently, Justine works for Advocate Aurora Health – Aurora Family Service in the Supportive Cancer Counseling Dept. In this medical setting, Justine provides emotional support to adult patients and their families as they cope with a cancer diagnosis and their spectrum of care. She seeks to walk beside those who are living with a chronic illness, life transitions, cancer, grief, depression and anxiety. Justine has a strong belief in the idea that we have the solutions to our problems within and encourages individuals to take a chance to explore and heal.
Jill McNutt Ph.D., LPC, ATR-BC, ATRL, ATCS
Jill is a board-certified art therapist, credentialled supervisor, and licensed professional counselor. She received her Doctoral degree in Expressive arts therapy from Lesley University. She has 20+ years of experience working in medical art therapy specializing in cancer care. Jill also is a partner in the Art Therapy House, Inc. Jill currently works at Advocate Aurora Health, and The Art Therapy House, Inc. Her mission and passion include providing opportunity and service to a diverse and inclusive community focused on emotional, social, and spiritual health.
Tanya Peters, MS, ATR, LPC, SAC-IT, CCTP
Tanya is an Art Therapist, Licensed Professional Counselor, Substance Abuse Counselor (in training), Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and Founder of Milwaukee Art Therapy Collective. She holds a Master of Science degree in art therapy with an emphasis in counseling from Mount Mary University. Tanya has experience working with adolescents, children and adults with various mental health issues, in outpatient, inpatient, and residential settings. She has extensive experience working with adolescents and their families with a history of complex trauma.
Nicole Vike, LPC, ATR-BC
Nicole is a licensed professional counselor and registered art therapist. She received her Master’s degree in art therapy and counseling from Mount Mary University. She has 5 years of experience working with children and adults in a range of settings including community mental health centers, day treatment facilities, and community art studios. She currently works as a psychotherapist at Whole Health Clinical Group, a behavioral health outpatient clinic. Nicole is passionate about providing a space for all to create and feel safe to express themselves. Nicole enjoys helping clients connect to their own intuition and personal creativity in order to succeed in their personal growth and development.
Ernesto Atkinson, ATR-LPC
Member at Large
Ernesto is a registered art therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor. He received his Master’s degree in Art Therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Ernesto is the founder of Alivio Integral/Integration Healing Art Therapy Studio in Milwaukee. Ernesto’s goal as an art therapist is to be a witness to his participant’s personal growth by engaging them in an adaptive and creative path of self-exploration. Ernesto’s approach is to creativity and healing is “to create a nonjudgmental, multicultural connection between the participant and me. Together, we use a combination of artistic and therapeutic approaches which will lead the participant to self-healing, according to his or her needs”. Ernesto has experienced working with a wide range of diverse populations, ages, and mental health issues.
Rachael is a current 2nd year Graduate Art Therapy student and Graduate Assistant at Mount Mary University. In the Milwaukee area, Rachael has gained experience working with older adults at the Lutheran Home in Wauwatosa and with adolescents at The Youth and Family Project in West Bend. Rachael is passionate about creating inclusive and accessible environments that foster creativity, empowerment, and a sense of belonging within the therapeutic space. Post-graduation, Rachael plans to work and live within Milwaukee area and become more involved within WATA and Milwaukee Art Therapy community.