Lisa C. Thomas

Clinical Assistant
MS, ATR-P, Resident in Counseling

Biography

Sometimes the wounds we carry are invisible. These invisible wounds, these thoughts and feelings, can become overwhelming and cause confusion, feeling stuck, or feeling helpless. They can even prevent us from living the life we want to live. Thoughts and feelings can be difficult to understand, especially when you don’t have the right tools to understand how your thoughts and feelings can affect the way you live your daily life. Seeking help can be hard, and I acknowledge the strength it takes for you to reach out to begin your healing process in therapy. Therapy can help you heal your invisible wounds so you can make sense of your past, live in the present, and empower you to create a life worth living.

I will work with you to create a safe, supportive, nonjudgmental, and empathic environment for treatment. If you have ever felt invisible and like no one understands what you are feeling and experiencing, I am here to listen and tell you that your experiences are real and they are valid. You know your life better than anyone and I will work collaboratively with you to build the foundation of our therapeutic relationship. To help make progress in treatment, I also utilize evidence-based approaches including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and radically open dialectical behavior therapy. During my residency, I am enhancing my training in these approaches to provide the most up-to-date and effective treatment.

But what if words are not enough? Or what if using words to communicate is difficult? Do you get tired of holding all of your thoughts and feelings inside? I recognize that traditional “talk therapy” may not work best for everyone and may provide art therapy, which incorporates the creative process within the therapeutic relationship to facilitate self-expression and healing.

Previously, I studied the neurobiology of addiction at the Scripps Research Institute and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, so I have a deeper understanding of brain-behavior relationships in the context of addiction and drug dependence. In graduate school, I specialized in advanced trauma-informed art therapy by taking coursework in trauma-informed art therapy and studying abroad in Croatia focusing on the cultural effects of the Homeland War. These courses combined with my art therapy and counseling internships at a substance abuse residential treatment facility, outpatient PTSD clinic, juvenile detention center, and day treatment school provided me with a unique skillset of trauma-informed care and substance abuse treatment from an art therapy and counseling perspective.

Along with individual, group, and family art therapy and counseling, I am trained to administer art-based assessments that take into consideration the artwork, behaviors, and verbalizations, thereby providing a more wholistic understanding of an individual or family system. I believe that incorporating art in treatment can facilitate whole brain integration and can enhance the treatment process. Previous knowledge about the brain and studying different art processes and materials in graduate school has allowed me to “prescribe” art processes, since each art process and material stimulates different areas of the brain.

I joined Beach Therapy & Consulting as a resident in counseling specializing in Dialectical Behavior Therapy to include Radically Open DBT. I am under supervision for my credentials in art therapy (ATR) and counseling (LPC) and also plan to pursue the CSAC.

When I’m not at Beach Therapy and Consulting, you can find me active in the community. As a new professional, I am working towards making art psychotherapy services more accessible in the Hampton Roads community through involvement with the Arts for Optimal Health Program at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Currently at Virginia MOCA, I am a community art therapist for Healing VB: An Expressive Arts Project where I provide resources and a safe space for individuals affected by the May 31st mass shooting in Virginia Beach. I am also providing group art therapy services for caretakers of veterans for whom I help foster creative expression and facilitate exploration of caretaker needs and coping strategies. Future projects in the community will include providing art therapy services for individuals with dementia and their care partners.

Specialties

I specialize in trauma- and neuroscience-informed art psychotherapy and counseling. I work well with individuals ages 10+ and issues involving depression, anxiety, adjustment, trauma, PTSD, substance abuse and comorbid mental illnesses, and ADHD/ODD. I utilize evidenced based treatment approaches to anxiety and depression. I am a co-facilitator in the DBT Multi Family Adolescent Skills groups and will offer summer camps on mindfulness in art therapy for a variety of ages.

Education & Licensure

B.S. Physiology and Neuroscience and Psychology – University of California, San Diego
M.S. Art Therapy and Counseling – Eastern Virginia Medical School
Advanced Trauma-Informed Art Therapy
Level 1 Completion in Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy
ATR-Provisional
Resident in Counseling for Licensed Professional Counselor License

Publications and Presentations

Thomas, L. (2019, November). The Four C’s of Effective Grant Writing for Art Therapy Research and Programs. Paper session presented at the AATA National Conference,
Kansas City, MO.
Thomas, L. & Reiss, R. (2019, November). What is Art Therapy? Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.
Panel Member. (2019, June). Experiences with PTSD in the community. Josip Juraj Storssmayer University of Osijek, Croatia.
Thomas. L. (2019, May). The Case of X. In Art Therapy and Counseling Graduate Symposium. Conducted at EVMS, Norfolk, VA.
Thomas, L. & Magi, C. (2019, March). What is Art Therapy? Old Dominion University, Norfolk VA.
Priddy, B.M., Carmack, S.A., Thomas, L.C., Vendruscolo, J.C., Koob, G.F., & Vendruscolo, L.F. (2017). Sex, strain, and estrous cycle influences on alcohol drinking in rats. Pharmacology Biochemistry Behavior, 152, 61-67. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2016.08.00