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The Artful Life to Open New Expressive Arts Center in Salem

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By Joey Phoenix

The Artful Life Counseling Center and Studio is moving to Salem, MA in early spring 2020. In January, the City of Salem approved a $50,000 Small Business loan to help the center make the transition into their new space on Canal St. 

The Artful Life was formed in 2016 by Co-founders and Expressive Arts Therapists Madelene Pario and Natalie Blue. It is the only group practice on the North Shore that specializes in Expressive Arts Therapy, the practice of using visual arts, movement, drama, music, writing, and other creative processes to help a person not only express and visualize emotions but also facilitate personal growth.

“We’ve always wanted to have an art studio where we could host groups and workshops,” Natalie said. “And Expressive Arts Therapy is such a great format for bringing groups together.” 

The new space, a 7,700 square foot location in Salem, will provide opportunities for The Artful Life to keep doing what they’re doing, just a whole lot better. 

“Our individual counseling started to take off a couple of years ago,” Natalie said “At the same time, also kept trying to promote groups and put a lot of time and energy into that side of things, but we weren’t really getting the return that we were looking for.”

One of the biggest issues about this was that there just wasn’t enough space. They had been doing what they could to stay in Beverly, where they had two offices on Cabot Street, but the timing and the available locations just weren’t working out. 

In 2018, The Artful Life won third prize in the Enterprise Center at Salem State University’s North of Boston Business Plan Competition, and Natalie credits this event as the impetus for thinking about their growth as a company and for imagining possibilities. 

“We started to look at our business differently and get feedback from other professionals and entrepreneurs about growing a business,” Natalie recalled. When she and Madelene looked at the space in Salem, which was a little bigger than what they had initially been looking for, they realized it just came down to laying out a plan. 

“It just felt right,” she said, “and once we decided that’s what we wanted to do, we just started putting the numbers together.” 

The new counseling center will support individual counseling offices, two soundproof rooms for music therapy, a lounge for working therapists to take a breather, and a central 1,000 sq.ft space that will be used for drama, dance, and movement. 

“Everyone has the ability to be creative. Creativity exists within all humans,” she said. “I think what Expressive Arts Therapy can do is we can help people use their imagination to imagine something different, other possibilities.

“What we can bring to people through Expressive Arts Therapy is a way to imagine life in a more hopeful and artful kind of way.” 


Joey Phoenix is an interdisciplinary performer, artist, and the Managing Editor of Creative North Shore. Send pictures of lemurs or story ideas to joeyphoenix@creativecollectivema.com


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