Is this You? You have just come through a major transition. A relationship or job has ended and now you are starting off anew. Or you have just suffered a traumatic loss or a sudden illness. It’s difficult to figure out which side is up. Your life is busy, and it is taking all your energy to stay on top of the demands of this huge transition. You feel like something is missing in your life.
You’ve been addressing this overwhelm through traditional therapy or alternative healers. Or you’ve been staying very busy as a way to distract yourself from the disorientation you may be feeling. Sometimes you may even have tried to escape it all by doing things like binge watching Netflix or comfort eating. What is it that makes this newness so hard?
The healing techniques and strategies have been helpful, yet it seems like there must be something more than all this talking and rehashing of the past. It isn’t helping you to recognize this new self that you are after all this change but you can’t and don’t want to go back to who you were before this change happened.
In addition, you consider yourself a creative person but feel haven't been able to find an outlet for that creativity and you have the sense that expressing yourself creatively would bring you exceptional nourishment and and comfort. You want to try using art as a form of expression but you don't know where to begin. You might be interested in learning to make a doll. And you've thought of joining a group, but right now you really want the time all to yourself.
Consider signing up for a series of private sessions with Erika
I've been making dolls and engaging in other creative modalities such as making hand-made journals, intuitive painting and stitching over the past fifteen years. And before that I was a painter and printmaker. And before that, I used to draw, paint and make things as part of daily life as a child.
What's on offer here is an opportunity to meet privately with me over a short period of time. We will play, talk, explore various art making approaches, including doll-making if you are drawn to that. I will introduce you to resources and sources of inspiration that will help you along your path.
You will reconnect with that child-like sense of wonder and spaciousness that you once had but have lost touch with in the face of the day to day struggles of life. There is no sense of a deadline, of having to come up with a particular creation. You may find that what you do create will be something that will bring you joy and will be a happy reminder of this experience. You will experience a sense of inner freedom and wholeness that comes when you can rest into and reconnect with that unchanged and pure core of being within.
Commonly Asked Questions:
What is a private session? A private session is a 1:1 meeting, at this point, still on-line, where I will meet with you and support you in your process.
What will happen in our sessions? We will talk, do art together, explore imagery and symbolism that comes up in your work. I will share inspirational images and stories from my own work. But most of all, the work will be individually tailored to your own needs. You will set the tone of the direction we go in.
Where would we meet? Zoom meetings. I will send a link once we get started that you can use to access our sessions each time.
How long would we meet? Each session lasts an hour. Six sessions over the course of 2-6 months. You can decide how often you want to meet. However, in order for this to be most juicy and powerful, it might be helpful to have sessions closer together over time, at least in the beginning.
Why not just one session? It isn't worth your time or mine to only meet once. This process takes time. Your inner creative being needs engaging and that's not going to happen all at once. This way you won't be disappointed.
Is this therapy? No, though I have been trained as an art therapist and can tap into this training as a resource in our work, this is not therapy.
Do I have to know how to paint, draw or sew? No, you don't. You can come to this as a complete beginner, though if you are already experienced as an artist, you will also be helped getting a fresh perspective on areas where you may feel stuck.
What materials will I need? That depends entirely on what you want to do. You may already have all the materials that you need or you might want to buy supplies once we meet and discuss your intentions.
Will we be painting, drawing, making dolls? What will be we doing? Again, this is up to you. I have experience with a range of materials and also training as an art therapist in guiding individuals through the creative process, so there are a lot of options.
What to bring to the work:
Curiosity and willingness to play.
Readiness to make mistakes and to learn from mistakes.
A sense of commitment to yourself and to your creative process.
Willingness to take time in between meetings to explore what was discussed each week.
No materials needed for the first session but after that, we will discuss what materials you might want to purchase or you may already have your own supplies.
A journal or notebook. It helps the process along a great deal if you take notes on what was covered. (Option of having your sessions recorded as well)
An already established support network and system of self care. We can talk about supplementing this but this is not a therapy session so it is important that you have other sources of support to process what comes up in our work.
Again, a sense of fun!
Pricing and other Basic Information:
One hour sessions, every other week or once a month, to be arranged, over a period of 2-6 months.
Session bundle price: six sessions for $420. (That means $70 a session) Paid at sign up.
Meetings virtual (at least until pandemic eases)
Sessions must be used within six months from sign up for your series of sessions.
You will be asked to provide yourself with basic materials for working, to be arranged after we start meeting.
You are in charge, sessions are tailored to individual needs.
Please make sure you have other sources of emotional support. This is not a therapy session, though we will be touching on deep material.
One to two spaces available at this time for someone who is interested and motivated to begin.
Policy about cancellations. You must notify me at least 24 hours ahead of time to reschedule or the session will be forfeited.
All of what is discussed in the session remains private and confidential.
Option of recordings of the sessions if you wish. These are private and only accessible by you.
I'm Erika Cleveland. I'm an artist and writer, and former art therapist. My mission is to work with women at mid to late life transition whose roles and identities no longer fit and urgently want to connect to their true selves. I'm at that stage of life, almost 60, where priorities shift and what once seemed important has changed. To be perfectly honest, change terrifies me and so am living the phrase, "teach what you most need to learn."
I’ve had 13 plus years as a professional art therapist, working with hundreds of people. I conceived of and ran a Women’s Vision group, guiding women through change using art for a period of two years. Since moving to DC, I started Transformative Healing dolls and-for eight years, I’ve been leading healing doll workshops for a total of 50 plus women. I've also been making and exhibiting my own healing dolls in galleries and museums in the greater DC area and beyond. Lately I have been getting requests to work individually with women who want personal guidance in their creative process. So I have decided to formalize the process and offer individual sessions to a few people.
If you're looking for credentials. I have a master’s degree in art therapy from New York University and have studied art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I have also attended multiple art workshops, including healing doll maker, Barb Kobe’s year-long healing doll making training course. I’ve also taken additional courses in shamanic healing, mindfulness and meditation.
The Carousel of Life, Fabric, sticks, mixed media, Pauline Siple
I am a painter and had never made dolls before. Erika was a fellow artist at the Torpedo Factory Art Center and seeing her creative needle felt doll creations was a very strong influence on my becoming interested in making doll sculptures. I asked Erika if she would teach me to make doll heads out of fabric with a transfer face. We worked together in one:one sessions on making transfer faces with stick dolls..I worked on a stick doll of my daughter who died of cancer...I was still mourning her loss and the process of making a doll sculpture of her was very helpful, both in learning to create the doll and in working through the feelings related to the loss. I then used that doll as inspiration for my "Carousel of Life" piece.
Erika is a very compassionate, patient and inclusive person and teacher. She is a delight to work with.
Stephanie Coolman Back in 2019, during a sunny Sunday walk with my three children in the Washington, D.C. area, I found myself completely drawn to the magic of an exquisite doll exhibit. I felt the urge to see it; and, as soon as I went into the art space, Erika’s work captivated me like no other.
I spent a lot of time admiring Erika’s work, immersing myself into the meaning of each piece of art (amazing dolls.) It was palpable that the artist behind this unique artwork clearly knew what she intended to convey through each piece. Erika’s style, the composition and the details of each and every doll (which ranged from petite to human-size) gave clues linked to meaning. Each doll transmitted a story that I, as a viewer, could deduce; bringing about feelings and emotions. It was this experience that made me want to meet the person behind this artistic expression. So, I asked the art space attendant for the artist’s information. She handed me a card that read: “Transformative Healing Dolls.”
When I finally met Erika in person, I insisted in learning needle felting from her. I had little time before my move back to Mexico, so I was eager to explore my creativity and strengthen my spiritual growth through Erika’s delightful teachings. It is fascinating to me that art can be used as a transformative tool to bring to consciousness all that keep us from experiencing our true self.
Focusing on my spiritual growth path had started well before meeting Erika, but back then, I had yet to find the right tool for me to help others chart their own spiritual journey into the right direction. That changed when I had the good fortune of meeting her and realized we share the same passion for supporting people’s spiritual growth.
The way that Erika manages to empty on a physical manner her thoughts and emotions is praiseworthy. It is easy to “see” her, as a person and an artist, in every doll she creates. Anyone connected to this form of art is able to appreciate what an amazing and talented artist she is.
I am grateful for having crossed paths with Erika and her uniquely meaningful artwork. Learning needle felting from her not only gave me a tool to connect spiritual concepts with the physical representation of what we call our shadow, it also enabled me to help others. Today, I teach courses that empower people to live a more fulfilled and happier life, and to work on their spiritual growth, through doll-making therapy.
Ready to sign up? Sign up below and you will receive more detailed information about how to prepare for the sessions as well as information about how to set up meeting times. I have space for 1-2 individuals at this time. My own studio practice is very important to me and so I know I need to set aside time for that.
Not yet ready but want to learn more?
Sign up for a free assessment with Erika to see if this is something that interests you. To sign up for a free assessment, write me an email (see below) and I will be in touch with you to arrange a phone call.
Individual Sessions with Erika
Six one hour sessions with Erika to be arranged every other week or monthly, over the course of three-six months.