“I believe that people are much more clever than they often get credit for. Humans are full of innate creativity that helps get our needs met and problem-solve as we navigate the world. When we connect with ourselves, we get in touch with the power of this incredible resource, our creativity, and how to access it in a way that is authentic and helpful to us.”

—Kirsten Laurel, Art Therapy and CMHC Intern

Kirsten’s Areas of Focus

Kirsten offers both in-person and online therapy in Washington.

  • Children, adolescents, and young adults
  • Older adults 
  • Grief
  • Traumatic loss
  • Boundaries
  • Self-compassion
  • Caretakers
  • Attachment
  • Self-worth
  • Questions of meaning and spirituality
  • Perfectionism
  • Identity exploration
  • Highly sensitive people
  • Individuals in tumultuous relationships

About Kirsten

Led by her background in education and appreciation for an image’s power to access what words can’t reach, Kirsten joined our OptimalLife Wellness Center team in January 2024. She is an art therapy and clinical mental health counseling student with ten years of experience as an art teacher to learners ranging from ages 4-95. 

Kirsten’s time spent teaching revealed her passion for working with people of all ages and seeded her decision to pursue art therapy and mental health. Her eyes were opened to art’s ability to release locked-up pain while teaching at a girls’ orphanage and school in the Dominican Republic in 2011. 

All of the children came from traumatic backgrounds, but it wasn’t for several months when the school held an awareness day and students helped make decorations, that they expressed any of their experiences directly. Art allowed them to unlock and inspired Kirsten to help people of all ages and backgrounds find the same opening within themselves.

Kirsten believes that it is her role to walk alongside you as you discover and move the roadblocks in your life. Her counseling approach is grounded in an attentive respect for the wisdom of our bodies, and our ability to heal, body and mind, when we choose to honor and listen to all the different parts of ourselves. 

When you work with Kirsten in therapy she helps you see the reasoning behind impulses and automatic behaviors, increase your awareness, open doors to making intentional choices, and understand that many issues we see as problematic on the surface offer very clever solutions to coping with pain and suffering. These insights place the power back in your hands, allowing you to live as your most authentic you. 

In her free time, Kirsten loves spending time in nature, especially hiking and gardening. She can’t help but stay curious in her exploration of all different kinds of art-making as all are very near to her heart. Kirsten adores her three cats and is also a cat foster mom!

Languages Spoken

  • English 
  • Spanish (as a second language)

Training & Education

Kirsten has her BA in Sociology and Anthropology from Lewis & Clark College and is currently working toward her MA in Art Therapy and Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Antioch University Seattle. She has also completed the Antioch University Trauma Therapy certificate program. Kristen’s work is supervised by Lara Symonds, MA, LMFT, DCEPand Deb Sommer, MA, LMHC.