Heather Williams-Baumgart: Artist as Therapist

by | Oct 16, 2022 | Blog | 0 comments

As a stylist, illustrator, and fashion editor for the national magazine Girls Life, Heather has enjoyed the kind of artistic career other creative professionals might covet. Indeed, she began her journey studying painting at Cal Arts, moving on to the Fashion Institute of Technology, and later to studies in Italy and New York. Living in the latter city during the events of 9/11, she ultimately sought therapy herself to process her own grief and life experiences. It was there that she began to appreciate not only the value of counseling but also her own interest in psychology and the inner workings of interpersonal relationships.

Since then, Heather drew upon this passion for helping others and personal development in her work as a prominent fashion editor. She found herself approaching her career in design and clothing from a position of wanting to empower others and improve their self-esteem. As she describes, “on photoshoots I often found myself in deep conversation listening to others’ personal stories. Eventually, I realized that my heart has always been that of a counselor.”

Her creativity and “think outside the box” perspective led her to the collaborative, experiential approach Phillips Graduate Institute emphasizes in its Master’s Program. She has found particular resonance with Phillips professors Bobbi Jankovich and Yvette Melvin, as well as the use of art therapy, intergenerational work, and mindfulness in helping clients to thrive.

Heather reports that her Phillips experience has been a hugely positive one. “I really enjoy my classes and the ways in which we learn through doing, rather than simply reading about a concept or idea. Working with clients at CalFam [California Family Counseling Center] is so rewarding and just informs everything we talk about in the classroom.”

Heather says she’s open to not only a private practice as a psychotherapist but also perhaps collaborating with other health professionals to write and illustrate materials for children that both empower and uplift. Clearly, her creative drive and innovative skills continue to flourish with her new calling.