The process of finding balance is creative.
Hello, I’m Dana Dart-McLean
I am a psychotherapist working in community mental health and private practice. I have an MA in Counseling with a focus on Expressive Art Therapy from California Institute of Integral Studies. Since 2014, I’ve worked with adults, children, couples, and families to support people with regaining stability and personal growth. I’ve worked extensively with trauma, mood disorders, substance misuse, and many other issues that interfere with experiencing joy and withstanding life’s challenges.
I incorporate mindfulness, psychodynamic, somatic, and attachment-based therapies into sessions to support you to understand how the past impacts you today, to feel at home in your body, and to deepen your capacity for compassion with yourself and others. My clients find our work in sessions frees up energy so they can move forward in life.
In addition to providing therapy, I’m a painter and facilitate workshops on painting for increasing calm and creative flow. I also provide coaching to creatives wanting support with realizing goals. I am honored and inspired to support people in their progress towards balance.
A space to get curious about your process
Painful emotions, thoughts, and sensations are symptoms signaling the way to deeper self-knowledge. From this knowledge of yourself, compassion, joy, and a sense of vitality are more readily available. When you know and trust yourself, the changes you want to make are clearer and occur more easily.
We will explore what feels most pressing to you right now. Past experiences shape our current choices. Becoming curious about your current patterns reveals areas for growth. With a safe, nurturing space to explore your thoughts, feelings, and somatic experience, you connect with your strength and resilience to identify these patterns and shift harmful ones. Implementing new beneficial patterns is an individual process. My work with clients focuses on identifying what works and doesn’t work with specificity and care for your singular experience.
Using tools for increasing awareness like mindfulness and somatics can deepen your understanding of what works and doesn’t work for you. Somatic therapy brings attention to how the body stores stress, emotions, and memory. Getting out of the thinking process and returning to physical presence can reduce anxiety and overwhelm. I support people to find soothing strategies that support with managing the physical and psychological experiences of nervous system overload.
Chronic nervous system distress (flight, fight, freeze responses) can show up in a range of ways: numbness, disconnect, repetitive negative thoughts, self-criticism, lethargy, fatigue, tight muscles, irritation, mania, compulsive behavior, substance misuse, and more. With effective tools, you can develop practices that enable you to shift your mood and move through challenges more easily. This is empowering.
Respect trauma responses.
Trauma and resilience are woven together. When a trauma response develops, you are creating a protective pattern to prevent further harm. Sometimes these protective responses can harden into routines that once protected you but now no longer fit. These habituated trauma responses may be larger than you, passed down from generation to generation. They may be enforced by social norms or experiences with institutions. We will unpack all of that at the pace that feels right for you.
Identifying how trauma symptoms show up in your life offers keys to processing what needs to be processed and regaining connection to your essential wholeness. When you know what the root causes of suffering are, you have more openings to define what parts of you need healing and what parts are stuck in habitual responses to pain. With this clarity, you can apply effective tools to transform your habitual relationship with emotional pain. You can discover new ways of processing emotions (or old ways that feel new again) and through this processing, let go of what needs letting go, while honoring your experience and what you’ve learned from it.
My approach to working with struggle celebrates neurodiversity, queerness, and individual choice. I believe each person has within them what they need to grow and heal. It’s my role to provide support and reflection of this process in order to enhance your growth.
The therapeutic process is generative and enriching when you feel seen and valued. Thank you for taking time to visit my website and for putting energy into caring for yourself.
I work with adults who want support with:
- Relationship issues/dating
- Integrating experiences of neurodiversity and disability
- Processing experiences of being a psychiatric survivor
- Life transitions
- Creative blocks
- Body dysmorphia
- Substance misuse
- Increasing enjoyment of life & work/life balance
- Identity formation
- Stress management
- Repetitive intrusive thoughts
- Compulsive behavior
The process of finding balance is creative.
Concentrated Practices is a monthly newsletter where I share exercises drawn from art therapy to support you with personal growth.