Mental health therapy for children, teens, adults & families in Catonsville & Frederick Maryland.
Kelsey Dugan

Kelsey Dugan

Board-Certified Art Therapist, Internship Coordinator, & Supervisor, ATR-BC, LCPAT
Kelsey Dugan (she/they) is a Board-Certified Art Therapist & Licensed Clinical Art Therapist. She graduated first in her class from Pratt Institute in 2016 and became a published author shortly after. Kelsey has extensive experience working with complex trauma with children, teens, and caregivers on both a national and international scale. She's most passionate when working with attachment trauma - specifically supporting children and teens in the foster care system &/or state custody.

About Kelsey Dugan

Kelsey Dugan, LCPAT, ATR-BC (she/they) is a Licensed & Board-Certified Clinical Professional Art Therapist, author, & our field placement supervisor here at CPHS. Kelsey’s originally from NJ but she actually just moved here from Portland, OR where she was living for the last 5 years with her partner and their rescue Pittie Bam Bam (whom she hopes to eventually get certified as a therapy dog). Kelsey has over 6 years of experience working extensively with complex trauma with children, teens, and families in the US, Northern Ireland, & Asia. She’s most passionate when she’s helping clients with attachment trauma – specifically children and teens in the foster care system &/or state custody. Kelsey’s a self-identified Nerd & “retired” Emo who can easily connect with those hard-to-reach clients & loves working with those who share her love for Anime, Studio Ghibli, Schitt’s Creek, Star Wars, Pokemon, etc. Her approach is warm & affirming, patient yet direct, & empowering with a little existential humor mixed in as a treat. She can support folx with setting & maintaining boundaries, improving communication and conflict resolution skills, addressing self-esteem issues & dealing with bullies, and learning healthy coping strategies to replace the tools they’ve previously developed as means of survival that maybe aren’t the safest for them or no longer align with their future goals.

Training and Education

Kelsey’s provided trauma-informed art therapy in a range of settings including 24/7 crisis in-home stabilization, correctional facilities, day treatment, partial hospitalization & intensive outpatient programs, in the community & schools, & DV crisis shelters - she’s skilled in working with suicidality and safety planning, attachment disruptions, parent coaching, & group therapy. She obtained her BFA in Illustration from SCAD in Savannah, GA & graduated with Distinction with her Masters in Art Therapy from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY in 2016. Before graduating, Kelsey studied under Art Psychotherapists in Northern Ireland & organized a volunteer Art Therapy trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand after graduate school where she was fortunate to work with trafficking survivors in the Red Light District, orphanages for abandoned children with special needs, correctional facilities for incarcerated youth, children in Wat Temple Schools and ‘illegal night schools’ for indigenous hill-tribes, amongst other various populations. Kelsey became board certified as an ATR-BC in 2017 which was also the same year her thesis research on shoe alteration techniques with single mothers in a Domestic Violence Shelter was published. She’s currently studying for further trauma-informed certifications & acts as a supporting research assistant.

Therapeutic Approach

Art Therapy is a specialized approach that combines both traditional talk therapy and creative expression. Art Therapy offers anyone who’s experienced trauma a sense of safety & containment as well as the opportunity to be seen & heard. It’s one way to “tell without talking” when one is unable to find the words or when it feels/is too dangerous to do so. Life doesn’t always feel pretty so it wouldn’t make sense for our art to always look pretty either. Using art – both the act of creating and the final product itself – can feel less threatening for some of us. I mean think about it – opening up to a complete stranger about your darkest demons – can feel pretty anxiety-provoking at times. You may find this approach easier & more effective in helping establish a trusting therapeutic relationship quicker. Science shows us that art therapy can improve one’s overall emotional wellbeing by activating the brain’s ‘feel good’ reward center, lowering cortisol stress levels & anxiety, & stabilizing overwhelming emotional states because of the containment & distance it provides. Art Therapy offers folx a space that has the power to not only reshape & repair our earlier relationships but also develop a healthier means of communicating our internal realities with the outside world.

While working with Kelsey, you’ll have the space to focus on what it is you feel is most important and together you’ll dive deeper into the identified issues through both art-making & traditional talk therapy. She finds that most of her clients have been told by the grown-ups in their lives (either directly or unintentionally) that their feelings are wrong, bad, or invalid – she’s here to tell you that although it’s likely they didn’t mean to invalidate you – your feelings are more than valid & you deserve the space to talk about them or not talk about them if you wish, which is what makes art therapy so cool. She uses trauma-informed art therapy that focuses on externalizing internal wounds, current life stressors, and/or personal conflict in a safe, contained, & confidential space. Her goal is to support you as the expert of your own life and help you identify (or create) your own internal motivations. Kelsey incorporates a wide range of creative methods into sessions and encourages her clients to journal, write poetry, alter books, & make Spotify playlists (a personal favorite) for them to listen to & process together so that she can get to know them on a deeper level. Sometimes Kelsey’s clients just need a place to unload and leave it for good & might not always feel like creating & that’s okay - in her office art is used as a support & opportunity to gain insight but never as a required assignment. Kelsey’s sessions always end with a grounding exercise to establish safety so that you’re leaving therapy feeling put back together.

Focus Areas

Youth, teens, & young adults

Attachment trauma & complicated grief

Anxiety & low self-esteem

Depression & self-harming behaviors

Identity issues, social skills, & navigating peer relationships

Toxic masculinity & mens issues

Research Publications

2022 - “A Meaning Based Approach to Art Therapy: From the Holocaust to Contemporary Practices” written by Elizabeth Hlavek DAT, LCPAT, ATR-BC. Supporting Research Assistant 

2017 - “Complicated Grief, Attachment, & Art Therapy: Theory, Treatment, and 14 Ready-To-Use Protocols” written by Briana MacWilliam MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT. Contributing Chapter Author - Part III: Applications & Practice, Chapter 19: Exploring Attachment & Grief Through Shoe Alteration Techniques

Awards & International Affiliations

2022 - International Expressive Arts Therapy Association - Worldwide

2022 - Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy Training Institute

2021 - American Art Therapy Association Professional Mentor - USA

2016 - Graduate Convocation Award - Excellence in Academic Achievement - Pratt Institute - Brooklyn, NY

2016 - Art Relief International & Cultural Canvas Thailand - Volunteer Art Therapist - Chiang Mai, Thailand

2015 - Northern Ireland Group for Art As Therapy (NIGAT) - Summer Intensive Week-long Workshop Attendee - Belfast & Ballycastle, Northern Ireland