Rebekah Near, LCAT

Licensed Creative Art Therapist
$175 per 50-minute session
(90 minute and 2 hour sessions also available)


Transforming lives through the arts. Creating a healthy balance beyond grief and trauma.

Life is hard, and sometimes we just need someone to bear witness to our struggles, and help us heal so that our brokennesses doesn’t break someone else. I think there is pressure on people to turn every negative into a positive, but we should be allowed to say, “I went through something really strange and awful and it has altered me forever.” You don’t have to struggle alone. Come into the studio and use the arts to transform your life!

About Me:

I am a Licensed Creative Arts therapist and mental health counselor with close to 20 years experience in journeying with individuals who have been frozen in grief and trauma. More importantly I am someone who has and continues to do their own therapeutic work using the arts to be informed and heal. My aim is to meet the client where they are and help them create and maintain a healthy balanced self -physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. 

“The real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

My Counseling Services in Gallatin, TN

The concept that art making can be helpful in a time of loss or uncertainty is certainly not new. From the beginning of time, humanity has found ways to express its experiences of joy and struggles, in art, song, movement and other creative mediums. The arts have been helping  transform suffering into wisdom since the worlds infancy. 

Expressive Arts therapy is a discipline of helping and healing that uses the arts as its basis for discovery and change. Expressive arts integrates the visual arts, movement, drama, music, writing, play and other creative processes to foster personal transformation. Expressive arts therapy allows us to enter our grief, building bridges between our emotions and intellect. The act of creating crystalizes an individual’s story, encouraging them to see it in a new light. Individuals and communities lost in grieving, daunted by it, or blocked by the denial of it, can find their way back into the world through the arts. 

In addition to using the arts I also have two different licensed therapy dogs named Coolidge and Reagan. Pet therapy can help clients with a variety of physical and  emotional issues.

Benefits include:

  • Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Increases positivity and socialization
  • Reduce feelings of fear and worry
  • Provides motivation, stimulation and focus 

Grief & Loss:

      • Life threatening illness of self or loved one
      • Death of a loved one – bereavement
      • Death of a pet
      • Perinatal Loss (death of an infant during pregnancy or soon thereafter)
      • Transitions - postpartum mothers
      • Separation due to:
        • Divorce
        • Military deployment
        • Sibling separation in life threatening illness-hospitalization stays

    Wellness / Self-care

    Anxiety/ Depression

    Who can benefit form expressive arts therapy:

    • Individual for children and teens (ages 5 – 21years of age)
    • Adults
    • Groups 
    • Healthcare professionals - (burnout, empathy fatigue) 
    • Community support - (response to traumatic events within the community)
    • Adjunct therapist (work with primary therapist to build creative solutions and gain tools)

    Other Session Offerings:

    • Pet Therapy is offered in conjunction with expressive arts therapy
    • Walk and Talk (session held outside while walking and talking) 
    • Nature-art based

    There are losses that rearrange the world. Deaths or losses that change the way you see things, grief that tears everything down. Pain that transports you to an entirely different universe, even while everyone else may think nothing has really changed.

    Sometimes we have to choose courage over comfort because in these difficult moments we can’t do both. We have to be courages enough to do the hard work and allow ourselves to be seen while also healing. Through the arts I can help you find the courage to create a life you are excited to live.

    My Approach 

    Are you looking for something different? Expressive arts therapy aims at getting to the authentic root of  issues with individuals and groups through the arts. Expressive arts is a discipline of helping and healing that uses the arts as its basis for discovery and change. This style of therapy integrates the visual arts, movement, drama, music, writing, play and other creative processes to foster personal transformation. It invites a person to move flexibly among media, following their creative instincts and interests. Expressive arts therapy directly engages auditory, visual and kinesthetic senses, as well as emotions. 

    No artistic skill is needed, just a willingness to be open to the process. The creative process of generating art during a traumatic time offers an opportunity for transformation and making connections. 

    The real work in healing does not come when we merely tell our stories. They need to be seen, to be experienced. The arts help us to find a greater range of playfulness, and bear witness to what emerges. There is no way to do it wrong.

    Expressive arts therapy is hands-on and experiential, using simple, accessible tools and materials. Interventions are tailored to the individual needs of clients. Engagement in mindful and creative tasks can help us find the “flow” state, where we can let go of past and future worries, and just be in the present moment. This connection helps rewire our nervous systems and create accessible pathways to a more balanced self. These creative tools can also offer a surprising change of perspective and allow for new self discoveries.

    My Story & Background

    At a young age I had a calling to create art and help people. But the turning point for me was losing a parent suddenly at 19 years old. I was frozen in my grief. It was the arts that brought me back to life and urged me to heal the other wounds that had been created over my life time. The creative process of making art allowed me to sit with the uncertainty and create new outcomes. 

    I finished up my under graduate work in art therapy and pursued my masters of science in a dual degree both in art therapy and mental health counseling. I later went on to complete my PhD work in expressive arts therapy and grief. My research both personally and professionally led me to realize that unresolved grief was at the heart of peoples pain. It was grief with a large G. The grief encompassed more than just death or dying it was grief of loosing ones authentic, original inner child. Anxiety, depression, addiction, were just symptoms of the deep underlying grief that individuals and communities were experiencing. 

    I have had the privilege to work in a variety of settings as well as a diverse group of clients. For close to 20 years I have worked in the field of Thanatology (the scientific study of death and the practices associated with it) both clinically and academically. I spent 15 years in pediatric hospice and the palliative care arena, while also serving our veterans community. Using trauma-informed expressive arts therapy I have worked in addiction recovery, VA hospital, children/ teen groups, and self-care. No matter what community I have served one thing remains the same - peoples undeniable resilience in having courage to heal and create a healthy balanced life. 

    A Little Fun

    Outside of the therapeutic art studio, you can find me in nature hiking with “The Presidents” - Coolidge and Reagan (my licensed theraputic dogs) or in my own art studio creating art. I have the honor of being a mother to two young daughters and one angel baby. I love both watching and performing theater and dance. Nurturing my relationships with my family, friends and faith also continues to feed my soul. 

    Final Quote

    Even broken crayons still color. You have the ability to create a healthy balanced life out of the brokenness. 

    Final Thoughts

    A large part of healing is loving your past self. Forgiving yourself for the ways you chose to survive when that’s all you knew and realizing you did the best with what you had at the time. Heal so you can hear what is being said without the filter of your wound.

    Do not lose hope. Please know that there are a thousand beautiful things waiting for you. YOU have the capacity to create the life you want! I look forward to the opportunity to create with you!


    Near, R & Thompson, B. (2020) The Superpower of the Expressive Arts. In J. Harrington & R.A. Neimeyer (Ed.) Superhero Grief The Transformative Power of Loss. New York: Routledge

    Broken Pieces: Transforming Grief Through Pottery, Presenter, 2019

    National Association for Death Education and Counseling, Presenter: Creative and Imaginative Restorative Retelling of Our Grief Stories, 2019

    National Association for Death Education and Counseling, Presenter: My Womb, Now Your Tomb: Life, Through the Arts after a Miscarriage, 2019

    National Association for Death Education and Counseling, Presenter: Exploring Grief Through the Expressive Arts, 2018

    Expressive Therapies Summit, Presenter: The Opening: Exploring Grief Through Intermodal Expressive Arts, 2018

    Near, R. (2012) Balden Town: Transforming Grief Through the Arts. Documentary on the use of expressive arts therapy in grief counseling

    Near, R. (2012) Intermodal Expressive Arts. In R.A. Neimeyer (Ed.) Techniques of grief therapy. New York: Routledge

    Near, R (2012) Expressive Arts with Grieving Children. In C. Malchiodi (Ed.) Art Therapy in Healthcare. New York: Guilford Publishing Company

     National Association for Death Education and Counseling, Presenter: Balden Town: Transforming Grief Through the Arts, 2012

    Expressive Therapies Summit, Presenter: Transforming Grief Through the Arts: How Expressive Arts Therapy helps children/ adolescents and their families in the grieving process, 2011

    International Expressive Arts Therapy Association, Presenter: Uncertain Life: Exploring Grief’s Multiplicity Through the Expressive Arts, 2011

    Association for Creativity in Counseling- a division of The American Counseling Association, Presenter: Exploring clinician’s own thoughts and bias about death, and grief through the expressive arts, 2010

    Wood, D.D & Near Lancto, R (2010) Using expressive arts when counseling bereaved children. In C.A.Corr & D.E. Balk (Eds.) Children’s encounters with death, bereavement, and coping. New York: Springer Publishing Company

    National Association for Death Education and Counseling, Presenter: Telling the Stories Through the Arts, 2010

    Society for the Arts in Healthcare, Presenter: How 2 pARTner with Kids: the use of expressive arts in pediatric palliative care, 2010

    Hospice Palliative Care Association for New York State, Presenter: Transforming Grief Through the Arts, 2009

    HealthDay News for Healthier Living, Interviewed for: Mourning Death of Loved One Raises Your Risk of Dying, 2007

    MSNBC Today In New York, Guest Interview: Grieving Through The Holidays, 2007

    National Association for Death Education and Counseling, Presenter: Creative Forms of Treatment: Viewing Grief as an Opportunity for Growth, 2007