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Lenna Salbashian: Advancing Access to the Health Benefits of Creative Expression

Lenna Salbashian: Advancing Access to the Health Benefits of Creative Expression

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Lenna Salbashian, the CEO and lead art psychotherapist of Creative Health. Let’s learn what’s happening at Creative Health and how Lenna is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Hi Lenna, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Creative Health?

Lenna: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Creative Health is advancing well-being and access to preventative and sustainable health. We do this by forging a more equitable, empowered, and resilient world through therapeutic uses of the arts. We are culturally changing well-being and health by bringing together evidence-based science, arts therapies, and technology to help individuals and communities live better around the globe. Growing bodies of research show that engaging in the arts influences both adult and child brain development, and improves social skills, emotional regulation, capacity for self-expression, and ability to pay attention and learn—all assets associated with health and well-being over a lifetime. Our work is to share these methods with the world.

Spiffy: That sounds fascinating! What motivates you to do it?

Lenna: When I was five years old, I started making art to understand my complex emotions. I instinctively knew that I had to express what I was experiencing, but also knew that I felt unable to communicate with words. So I started drawing. Throughout my childhood and my teens, I used drawing, painting, movement, and writing whenever I needed to release what I felt and thought on the inside. Art gave me a safe space, a world where I was free to let the inside come out to learn how to accept myself. My motivation is to give others the space they deserve to feel understood and accepted through art making. I work with clients every day and see how the arts change people’s lives. Everyone can find wholeness through their creativity. It’s what we all need. 

Spiffy: What would you say is the impact of your work?

Lenna: The impact of our work is multi-faceted, from enhancing well-being, recovery, and self-expression, to promoting social connection. Even when words are unavailable, we can use art in all forms—painting, clay, movement, music, writing, and yoga—to communicate. Expression through the arts allows people to discover who they are, build confidence, heal from painful experiences, and solve problems in new ways. Creative Health allows everyone to experience the incredible health benefits of creative expression so we can create a healthier and more inclusive world.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your community?

Lenna: To ensure that everyone has access to therapeutic art tools, Creative Health offers two paths. First, we built our app, Createful, to provide on-demand videos of art therapists guiding you through art experiences. Second, we established a private practice where you can work directly with an art therapist for an even more personalized approach to addressing your specific needs and goals. Our art therapists are also licensed mental health counselors with years of clinical experience, so no matter which path you choose, you will be in the best hands. If you’re not sure where to start, visit us at www.ourcreativehealth.com and book a free consultation call with me to find out more. You can also find @livecreatedul on social media.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Lenna: You do not need any experience with art to get the therapeutic benefits. Creative expression and art therapy are different for everyone depending on the type of art media that would benefit the person most. Some people start with music which helps them move and feel emotions. Or perhaps you like to work with your hands and you’re struggling with frustration, then using clay may be the best method for you. You can also use several different art modalities like listening to music while painting with chalks, and then using writing or movement to explore your visual art further. The arts work for everyone: children of all ages, parents, siblings, teachers, groups, and all ranges of professionals. 

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Lenna—it’s been an honor!

Lenna Salbashian is a licensed art and yoga psychotherapist with ten years of specialized work in treating eating disorders, body image issues, anxiety, depression, and trauma. Lenna focuses on helping her clients engage underutilized parts of their minds and bodies to live with greater self-empowerment and life mastery. Her clients benefit from Eastern and Western approaches by integrating clinical talk therapies with expressive arts and yoga. (Nominated by Raffi Salbashian at Day Care Council of New York. First published on the Ladderworks website on July 26, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.