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From west coast to the west

Prior to living in Colorado, I lived in the lush green mountains of Southern Oregon, steeped in gardens, farms, large unfenced backyards, country fairs, and rural city families. I appreciated the folk arts present, the connection with the outdoors, and the strong sense of community. People went out of their way to help each other regularly. There were also some strong cultural clashes between neighboring cities, so learning to navigate the differences between people became pivotal to my development. It also informed my ability to connect across these divides later in life.

In the beginning it was art

As a child I used to draw images of birds, horses, snakes, and fantasy creatures repetitively…seeking mastery of the skill and also trying to understand the world around me. For children, the world can be a place of both wonder and fear…I tended to be a lot more fearful. But art allowed me to explore the environment in a comforting way, in a way that spoke my language and helped me communicate to both myself and others. Drawing images of the world around me brought a type of intimacy- developed through close observation and curiosity. I realized I also had a sensitivity to the emotions of those around me and often found myself building connections through sharing my art as the years progressed. I learned my calling was related to a desire to sooth the pain I saw in the world around me and build bridges between people. I wanted to both celebrate the beauty in life-to help people also see the wonder- and be of service to those who struggled to feel this. I also wanted to change the systems around me that I found unfair, or even harmful, to those I loved. I had strong ideals and a passion to share them.

and then the detour…

Though it seems clear to me now what my calling was from a young age, the chaos of adolescents and young adulthood sometimes turns the map into a maze. I went off course, lost in identity crisis and unhealthy coping strategies. I can see the necessity and usefulness of this rite by fire, though at the time it felt like hell. School was my stable ground, and I excelled despite the chaos. I clung to it, along with a strong sense that there was something deeper calling me.

I was particularly gifted in math and science, initially planning to move into the medical field. I thought this would be my helping role. It made practical sense and would be a stable income. But my heart wanted to create and connect with people in a different way. I began volunteering at the local rape crisis center as a victim’s advocate and met with individuals who had experienced domestic violence and/or rape. This work challenged me, though I found it rewarding. An inspirational fire was lit, and I knew it needed to be followed. I dove into psychology during undergrad, changed majors, and took art classes on the side.

the first Art therapy teacher arrives

During undergrad, I met a woman who taught art psychotherapy classes within my psychology program. I took her introductory courses and was blown away by the power of the combination of art and psychotherapy. I felt as though someone had touched my soul, reaching me at a deeper level than I ever knew was possible. Art therapy had a power to it that I wanted to understand more. I dove in headfirst. I learned what healing felt like, what expansive growth felt like, and started to see the possibility of this being my career. I wanted to share this experience with others.

The deeper calling

After completing my Master’s Degree, I realized this journey we call life is always shifting and changing in unexpected ways. Whenever I believe I’ve “arrived”, I find another hill or mountain to explore or climb. I’ve learned that “arriving” may not be the answer after all and returned to my childhood desire to connect with other people who were also on the journey. I became curious about contemplative practice, somatic meditation, and dance as avenues to further relate to reality in ever deeper and expanding ways. I wanted to know what it meant to be fully human, alive, and showing up together. This lead me to the world of body awareness, dance as art, and sensorimotor psychotherapy (a relational somatic based therapy). I learned that relationships, authentic expression, love, and depth of experience is what drives me. I love therapy because I love people. I love how we work, think, get stuck, get unstuck, make messes, love with abandon, whisper our hearts desires, cry in pain and passion, try to unlock the cages of our hearts after we’ve been hurt, fight for our values, and try to figure out how the heck we can do this while living together in peace. I’ve often told others who ask about my work, “Once you know someone’s story, you can’t help but love them.” Another one of my teachers quotes G. Eliot when she says, “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other.” I see my work as a therapist similar to my work as a human. To help make the journey less difficult…to build bridges…and to find the moments of wonder.

Experiences that inform my current work & what I have to offer

Over the last 10 years, I have worked in a variety of settings, including: Community Mental Health, youth residential services, with outpatient Addiction Treatment Services, in a Mindfulness-Based Transitional program for young adults, internationally with survivors of abuse and sex trafficking, as a primary therapist with a Denver Based Drug Court, within an Integrated Primary Care clinic, with LGBTQQIA+ youth/young adults, in Private Practice, and as Clinical Support for graduate students at Naropa University. These experiences have provided me with a wealth of understanding of the human experience and how we manage in the world from various locations. That being said, I’m interested in understanding your unique location, your life story, the dreams you have for your life, and would love to be a support in your journey if our paths align.

I hold a Master's in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology, with a specialization in Art Therapy from Naropa University in Boulder, CO. I also completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Studio Art at Southern Oregon University.  

I currently practice out of Boulder Colorado as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), a Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC), and a Board Certified Art Therapist(ATR-BC) with Sensorimotor Psychotherapy training. 

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.
— Sharon Salzberg