Hi! I'm Lynn.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about Art Therapy and about me! My name is Lynn Cukaj and my purpose and passion in life is to help people using art as a medium.
For me, art has been a way to break down roadblocks and was a tool I enjoyed and often used during difficult times. My fascination with the impact of art-making on my personal development led me to study Art History professionally. It was during undergrad when I learned how influential an artist’s mental health was in their creations. I decided on Art Therapy as a profession after my sophomore year in college when I read an article on how the process of art helped Vietnam Veterans deal with their PTSD symptoms. I became a double major in Art History and Psychology with a minor in studio art. My undergraduate thesis studied the human figure and assessing anxiety in those projective techniques.
I took a year off before going back to school for my graduate degree. During that time I worked full time as a mental health worker in a psychiatric hospital and volunteered in a woman’s shelter working with children. I went to graduate school at the College of New Rochelle on a scholarship, which helped me to be able to volunteer and complete my degree in two years.
Both my master’s in art therapy and my master’s in education focus on different aspects art can play in assessment of an individual’s functioning and learning.
"Degas’ Beach" by Lynn Cukaj.
Oil paint. 2015.
Today I work with children and adults through the creative process of art therapy. Throughout my twenty years of working, I have found most often that anxiety, fear, and pain are roadblocks to an individual’s growth. These feelings seem to work against the individual and cause negative thoughts and behaviors which become barriers to change. My way of working is to provide a safe, non-judgmental environment where the client can feel at ease to begin exploring their personal roadblocks. Oftentimes, it is what is not being said that becomes the focus of the session. The artwork becomes the voice of the client and interventions are built around that experience. My unique approach of using the process of art making is a way for the client to connect with themselves and then with the world. My focus is on client strength, unconditional positive regard, and a non-judgmental approach. Therapeutic goals are focused on freeing oneself from the roadblocks and barriers that anxiety, fear, and pain have caused. This allows for clients to go on to live a life filled with joy and hope with tools and coping skills to better navigate the ups and downs of everyday life.
BA in Art History and Psychology 1994 (Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY)
MS in Art Therapy 1997 (College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, NY)
Board Certification 1999
MS in Teaching 2009 (Pace University, Pleasantville, NY)
MS in Counseling 2022 (Pace University, Pleasantville, NY)
MHC Limited Permit 2023
PhD Student - Projected 2027 (Pace University, Pleasantville, NY)
"Degas’ Beach shows how the creative process works for her. Cukaj is drawn to images related to the beach, nature, ocean, and sky. The theme of her works is a striving to find balance in order to emphasize that in the midst of moments of despair or hopelessness having a balanced visual image can create hopefulness and an inner calm and peace. Cukaj feels that by balancing colors it creates serenity while the brushstrokes show that there may be intense emotions underneath. Her work also shows the power of mindfulness at work. The dynamic process of mindfulness in the moment of despair is represented by the movement in the work. Ultimately, hopefulness and balance is achieved the longer one views her work."
Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, September 2021, Volume 62, Issue 3