Catherine Dunlop, PhD, DVATI

Art Therapist

Catherine Dunlop is an Art Therapist experienced in working with children, teenagers, families and adults. Cathie has worked in health care settings (BC Cancer Agency, Surrey Memorial Hospital - Adolescent Psychiatry Unit), with community organizations (Ishtar Transitions Housing Society, Clubhouse Without Walls), and in private practice at the Blue Spark Art Studio. Cathie approaches all her work with compassion, creativity and caring. 

Education and Credentials

  • Post-Master's Advanced Diploma in Art Therapy (Vancouver Art Therapy Institute)
  • Research project: Archetypes and Imaginal Dialogue: An arts-based inquiry
  • Professional member of the BC Association of Art Therapy
  • PhD in Educational Studies (University of British Columbia)
  • Visual arts training 
  • Full name: Catherine Cunningham-Dunlop




In addition to being an Art Therapist, Cathie is also an artist, an educator, and a program evaluator. Cathie is currently providing eCoaching services to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for staff stationed in the field who are taking management courses by distance. Also, Cathie is the evaluator for the Virtual University for the Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC), an educational network spread over 30 countries. Cathie also teaches creative expression workshops onsite in the studio and within organizations. She is intrigued by the notion of honoring the sacred in the everyday and creating new beginnings. Cathie is committed to the perspective that art is a way of knowing...and a way of keeping the internal blue spark lit.

Art Therapy 

Art therapy combines visual art and psychotherapy in a creative process using the created image as a foundation for self-exploration and understanding. Thoughts and feelings often reach expression in images rather than in words. Through the use of art therapy, feelings and inner conflicts can be projected into visual form. In the creative act, conflict is re-experienced, resolved and integrated.
— British Columbia Art Therapy Association (

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy takes place in a therapeutic setting which provides a supportive environment for the expression and processing of feelings through art-making. Art therapy is not the same as art class because the focus is on the process more than on the product, and there is the therapeutic goal of connecting to the art in order to enhance understanding of one's inner world.

Art therapy can be helpful for people dealing with:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • life transitions
  • grief and loss 
  • critical illness
  • creative block
  • lack of focus
  • challenges affecting self-esteem
  • the need to communicate an experience that may otherwise be inexpressible...because sometimes there are no words.

What are the benefits of art therapy?

The benefits of art therapy can include:

  • increased confidence
  • more secure sense of self
  • enhanced coping skills
  • reduced feelings of stress
  • greater clarity about priorities and possibilities
  • improved self-care
  • greater focus with a mindfulness approach
  • improved quality of life.

Creativity and Creative Expression

Creativity is not just for artists. It’s for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it’s for engineers trying to solve a problem; it’s for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way.
— Twyla Tharp

Changing the world

Sometimes we need a fresh way of seeing the world and that can open up a new way of being in the world. It can even change the world. 


The Blue Spark Art Studio offers opportunities for visual exploration and creative expression through art-making, either in individual sessions or in groups.

If you are interested in individual sessions or a creative expression workshop in the studio or onsite in an organization, please email Cathie at for more information.