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I love this quote from the movie Precious, because it’s about our ability to shine for others.


The character, Precious Jones is talking about her teacher in this scene. This quote resonated quite strongly with me, and I hope it brings you some light, especially during these dark and trying times.

“Some folks have a lot of things around them that shine for other people. I thinks maybe some of them was in tunnels and in that tunnel the only light they had was inside of them, and long after they escape that tunnel they still be shining for everyone else.”

She acknowledges that everyone has suffered through pain and hardship, but that we all have a light within that we shouldn’t allow to extinguish. I like to think about how each of our lights can shine for one another and  how e can light each others’ path when we are enveloped in darkness.

Where will you shine your light this holiday season?

Peace and blessings to you all.

Thanks for reading.

Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)

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Best Frenemies

frenemies friends

Have you ever noticed how certain friends never seem happy for you when you accomplish something? Do you find that it ruins your day when a friend gets something that you were striving for?

If there is someone in your life who you to tend to compete with in certain areas, chances are, you have a “frenemy” not a friend!

A frenemy is a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry. They are people who you feel are more foe than friend!

How can you recognize or identify a frenemy? First step is to recognize how they make you feel when you’re around them or interact with them. How do you respond when things are going well for someone you don’t really like? Think of how a person responds to you when things are going well for you, and you’ll be able to tell if that person thinks of you as a frenemy, too.

If you are highly competitive and always strive to out-do someone and be bigger, brighter, or bolder, then this person is probably not a true friend, and to be honest, you’re not a true friend, either!

Observe whether your competitive nature drives you to work harder and achieve success, or if you are driven out of feelings of jealousy. Jealousy usually morphs into anger and resentment, and most of the time it surfaces when your frenemy is recognized or celebrating a success.

These roots of jealousy can destroy friendships, because they create barriers and inhibit closeness.  The first step to combating negative emotions and toxic friendships, is to recognize the signs and symptoms. Be mindful of your thoughts and words when you are feeling a stab of jealousy.  Oftentimes,negative feelings such as anger can arise after contact with someone you regard more as a frenemy.

If we are honest, we can usually recognize this behavior in ourselves. The next step is to try to be happy when someone else accomplishes something. You can only do this if you take yourself out of the imagined race or competition that you have set yourself up against with this person.

Others will fail and succeed in life, and your job is to be there as a friend, and to help celebrate them or support them in times of need. If you can’t do that, it’s time to end the frenemyship.

It be wonderful if we could celebrate each other’s successes, rather than express anger and contempt for one another.  I was always moved by the benediction that I heard at my Lutheran Church, and I believe that this guiding principal should be one that  we all strive to follow: “Seek to bear one another’s burdens and share one another’s joys.”

If we can do that, we can go back to being a friend, instead of being a…


Thanks for reading!

Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)

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Feeling Safe in A Gun-Loving Society

In light of the recent shooting in Oregon, I have noticed a general feeling of defeat in the wake of this tragedy. People are beginning to feel overwhelmed by the number of shootings and our inability to stop them. It seems too easy to buy a gun and this fact leaves us all feeling vulnerable.

As a parent, President Obama, immediately pictured himself caught in the heart-wrenching aftermath of a shooting. We all did. How do we cope with the uncertainty and the continued images of pain and suffering that could easily affect our families?

Some people choose to cope by ignoring this crisis, because it’s too difficult to process and it’s something that we have absolutely no control over. We think that we’re ignoring the problem, yet we’re a nation full of anxious, hyper vigilant, over-medicated individuals. This is most evident in our youth.

Our children suffer the most. They bear the burden of a nation that will not protect them  from mass shooters. Our government’s refusal to enact common sense gun laws deprives our children of a carefree childhood. Young adults are busy dealing with the effects of an overspent economy, crushing student loan debt and the uncertainty of landing a job in their field. How can we, as parents, help our children at a time like this?

One thing I know for sure is this, we can easily become consumed by the darkness if we allow ourselves to be. Instead, we must consciously look toward the light and the luminaries — those people who shine a light amid the darkness. People are naturally drawn to the Pope, the Dali Lama, and even Oprah for comfort. Why? Because we lean on those who have the best interests of the people at heart and who provide hope for humanity. We realize that goodness and kindness are the only keys to escaping this crushing weight of hatred, violence and self-serving interests of politicians.

To move forward, we must act on this knowledge and teach our children how to do the same. This requires mindful consciousness. When we realize that companies, politicians, and the media respond to our demands, we can make better decisions. What we watch, click on, purchase and consume directly affects whether these sources supply us with goodness or negativity. Each decision is a vote. Each moment requires us to make a choice to support what we want for our children, family and friends.

We are naturally drawn to stories and products that feed our fears, but we must make choices to constantly look toward the light for the sake of our children – the most vulnerable members of any society. Every choice we make matters.

With Love and Comfort,

Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)

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Color Me Happy!

photo (1)Coloring books used to be the highlight of every shopping trip when I was a child. My parents usually purchased them for me at discount department stores or at the magazine section of the grocery store. A new box of crayons and a coloring book could mean hours of happiness, lasting for several days. This fond childhood memory pops up every time I see a new coloring book targeted for adults.

Why are there so many adult coloring books available?

Let’s Explore: These days adults have very little time to express themselves. Drawing figures and shapes can come with the high risk of dissatisfaction. Fear of failure may stop some of us from exploring the creative realm of drawing. But, coloring on the other hand, offers a risk-free and worry-free alternative to the Monet hidden inside all of us! You can’t make mistakes when you color! (Unless you color outside the lines, and even then, that can be seen as thinking outside of the box!)

Why is coloring an appropriate use of our time? We are a success-oriented, efficient society. We need observable outcomes that justify the use of our available time. When we have downtime, we often feel the need to explain non- productivity. Coloring books are filling the gap for more and more people these days. We have something to show for our moments of slacking, and can say we took a mental vacation and show the completed picture to prove it.

We also have the thrill of choosing the pigments that reflect our mood at the time. It’s the perfect combination of relaxation, choice, success, and the appearance of creativity. In this age of fast results, coloring books satisfy an instant need.

Plus, let’s face it, coloring is fun. To call it Art Therapy is a stretch, but that’s not the reason people are choosing to color. A coloring book is more likely used by adults when they need a moment to unwind. It’s a guilt-free, whimsical way to recharge before you return to the daily grind.

Everywhere you go there are variety of coloring books available. Six years ago, I thought I had invented the idea, but now mine are just one of many to choose from. The fact that they continue to be one of my best sellers tells me it’s not a fad that will disappear anytime soon.

Color me relaxed, color me beautiful, and color me happy!

Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)

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Achieving Balance In An Age of Efficiency!

BalanceBALANCE in an age of efficiency

We pride ourselves on maximizing our time and resources, and being organized multitaskers, but why are we in direct competition with everyone around us and competing for likes and retweets? How long do we plan on living like this, and is it really healthy for us and those we love?

During the moments when we aren’t running the rat race, we chastise ourselves and feel deep pangs of worthlessness while comparing ourselves to everyone else. The only way to remedy this is to do more, be more, accomplish more, and do it all more efficiently, right? Wrong!

What we need to realize is that we may be in danger of passing our bad habits onto our children. To prevent that, we need to slow down and reevaluate our priorities. Do we want our kids to be over-achievers and compete in their own age-appropriate rat race? Is that why we feel better when our children are away at science camp, rather than squabbling with a sibling, or playing video games at home?

The fact is, children need all three types of interactions.

  • They need to squabble and argue with their siblings to learn how to problem solve.
  • Video games and computers are here to stay and they do provide some benefits like quick reflexes and hand-eye coordination.
  • Science camp also has its benefits, because it gives them a desire for knowledge and expands their horizons and interests in other life forms.

To want children to excel in only one area stunts their growth. Just as you and I would prefer to enjoy a balanced meal, you and your children will thrive if you live a more spiritual, social, educational and physically balanced life.

It may be worth sitting down with your kids and creating a chart to see if you are balanced in all fours of these areas. See the sample picture above of a simple chart I use with my clients to help them achieve balance. Before you try this highly efficient chart system, remember one very important rule – to factor in the FUN!!! (And also, remember to forgive yourself for not realizing this sooner!)

Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)

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Faux Cakes and Cupcakes with Naughty & Nice Messages!

IMG_4132 IMG_4165 IMG_4162 IMG_4121 IMG_4174

Visit my Etsy Shop to order up a slice of “Sweet Revenge” – You can also create your own message!

Be as naughty or as nice as you like -just make sure he/she has a great sense of humor, too!

Messages include:

  • Life is a party not that you’re gone!
  • Eat THIS!
  • It’s not you’re fault, but I’m blaming you!
  • I’m pretty sure the whole thing was your fault!
  • Life is sweeter without you!
  • Get well soon!

These can be used as centerpieces or party favors!

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All of my products are handcrafted and made in the USA.

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Who Ya Gonna Call? Part Two

Who Ya Gonna Call? Part Two

Image Found Online
Online Image

In Part One, I discussed the various facilities that operate within the mental health system. In Part Two, I have outlined the professionals found within these settings, listing their minimum degree requirements and including a brief description of their roles.

I hope you find this blog post helpful. If you need further clarification, please click on my contact info below.

Psychiatrists: Trained and educated as a Medical Doctor (MD).
A psychiatrist can diagnose mental illnesses and prescribe medications. These experts are found in a variety of settings, but very few exist in private practices. They provide ongoing therapy.

Psychologists: PhD, PsyD. Doctoral. Psychologists can provide diagnostic and educational testing, as well as ongoing therapy. They can be found in a variety of settings including schools and private practices.

Social Workers:

  • LCSW Licensed Clinical Social Worker: Masters degree plus further graduate clinical training. Social workers provide therapy to individuals and families. They are employed in both large hospital settings as well as outpatient clinics and private practices.
  • LSW: Licensed Social Worker: Masters. Assists families and individuals navigate the mental health and medical system.
    Found in larger hospitals and mental health clinics. Licensed Social Workers are also employed in educational settings.
  • LPC: Licensed Professional Counselor. Masters. Can be employed in a variety of mental health settings. This is an umbrella license in the state of PA operating as Social Workers, Art Therapists and Marriage and Family Therapists.

Art, Play, Music, Dance Therapy. Masters. These are called the expressive therapies. They function within a larger setting or in a private practice. (My specialty is ATR: Art Therapy Registered)

Behavioral Specialists: Bachelor’s in Human Services. Work within the home of the client. Is hired by a large agency.

Mental Health Caseworkers: Bachelor’s degree. They usually function within a larger setting. Mental Health Caseworkers work with connecting the client to social services and basic needs.

Psychiatric Aide/Mental Health Tech: Bachelor’s degree. Seen within inpatient psychiatric settings. They have the most contact with their clients since they help with day-to-day issues.

Substance Abuse Counselors: Certified Addictions Counselor or
CAC: Masters. Specialized training in substance abuse issues. Employed within inpatient settings to deal with substance abuse.

Marriage and Family Counselors, MFT: Masters. Trained to work with couples and families. Seen in private practices and inpatient settings.

Guidance Counselors: Masters. School Counselors employed within the school system to help children and adolescents navigate the educational and emotional landscape of school.

Therapeutic Staff Support, TSS: Bachelor’s. Work within the classroom and are usually assigned to an individual student to monitor and support behavior. Hired by a larger mental health agency. Free for parents and available in many public schools.

This is a brief outline of the professional therapists available in most areas. I hope to have offered some insight into the often intimidating and confusing world of mental health. It may seem daunting at first, but there is help available. Often the scariest moment is the first step – Reaching out.

Please feel free to call my office or send me an email if you have any questions or concerns. I’m always here to help.

Thank you,

Karen Stabley, Art Therapy (ATR)

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Who You Gonna Call?

Who You Gonna Call? Part 1


When I receive phone calls from strangers or potential clients asking if I can fill a medical prescription, it only confirms my suspicions –  the general public is quite confused by the world of mental health practitioners. The capital letters following a professional’s name can also add to this state of confusion and frustration. Navigating the system isn’t always easy due to the different branches and subdivisions of services available, but here’s the good news: It’s not as confusing at it all sounds.

In Part 1 of “Who You Gonna Call?” I will list a few of the most popular services in the industry, and in Part 2, I will address the variety of professionals and explain where they can be found within the mental health system.

There are several types of treatments available, a few include:

  • Behavioral Health Treatment
  • Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Inpatient Treatment
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP)

People are sometimes overwhelmed by all the options and usually aren’t sure where to turn for help. To make it easier, I’ve created a simple list explaining the variety of local and national services available. This is just a general overview, and you should always consult your regular doctor before seeking additional services and before taking any medications.

Let’s examine the variety of treatment settings.

Crisis Intervention: Normally exists within an emergency room setting. In some communities it is free standing, or mobile.

Inpatient Treatment: Provides a safe therapeutic setting for those that could be a harm to themselves or to others. Usually within a hospital, initially for 72 hours during a period of crisis. If a patient needs long-term treatment, there are also a variety of 28 day facilities available. They include treatment for substance abuse, eating disorders and trauma.

Long-Term Residential Treatment: For individuals who have severe difficulty functioning at home or in the community. Individuals with severe mental health issues or cognitive disabilities are served in these settings. Usually owned by a larger organization. In the substance abuse realm these are privately owned as well.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP): Usually seen as a follow-up to inpatient treatment. This setting provides daily (usually about 10 to 12 hours per week) of group and individual therapy while the patient lives at home and functions within the community. These settings vary in terms of what disorder is treated. Some specialize is substance abuse, eating disorders and trauma, while others treat more general issues. These settings help provide coping skills, and help patients function within the community.

Outpatient Clinics: These offices are usually within a larger clinical setting. The clinicians  see a large number of clients per day. Often a psychiatrist oversees the medications of the clients. Owned by larger hospitals or businesses. Usually accept all insurances.

Private Practices: These are smaller clinical settings, usually privately owned. Operate with a smaller caseload per clinician, and often accept only a limited number of insurances. Smaller practices usually specialize in specific treatment options or diagnoses.

In Part 2 of my next blog, I will discuss the differences between the various professionals who are employed within these settings.

Here are some local numbers to call if you need immediate help or assistance:

To contact crisis intervention, please call (800) 673-2496 or (717)-851-5320.

Crisis centers are located in WellSpan York Hospital’s Emergency Department and 

WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Both facilities are open 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

Crisis Walk-in Services:

Edgar Square Walk in Crisis Unit                                                                                                                1101 S. Edgar St., Suite C, York, Pa.

Hours of Operation: Monday thru Thursday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.     No appointments are necessary.

Mobile Crisis Unit:

True North Wellness                                                                                                                                              Call: 1-800-315-0951                                                                                                                                          Seven offices located across South Central PA (click link below for address and directions) Open: 24 hours, 365 days per year

The following list include a sample of Inpatient treatment, long-term residential and Intensive outpatient – all require a referral from a Mental Health Professional, a therapist or a psychiatrist.

Outpatient Treatment Options:

Wellspan Behavioral Health: (717)-851-6340

PA Counseling Services: 855-272-1653

Rost and Associates, Family Counselors                                                                                                       807 S George St #1, York, PA 17403  Phone: (717)-843-6561

Please remember, I am always a call or click away!

Karen Stabley, ATR BC Registered Art Therapist

262 E. Market St                                                                                                                                                       York, PA 17403                                                                                                                                                                               (717)- 852-9037

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Back To Life, Back To Reality!

DSCF2441 I was having a difficult time deciding what I should post following my summer vacation. I contemplated writing about the challenges faced while moving beyond my comfort zone to talk to strangers on the beach. I also considered writing about how to let go of life’s daily worries while you’re  hundreds of miles away from home.

Several concerns were brought to my attention as I tried to sum up the experience.

We were in Negril, Jamaica and it was wonderful. I was struck by the quiet and calm beauty of the island of Jamaica, but at the same time, I couldn’t help but notice the heartbreaking poverty of its people vs. the abundance at the resorts. Unable to pick a topic, I decided to hold onto my vacation memories until I was ready to share them.

What I am struggling with now, is how to return to reality.

I guess we all have difficulty with this, we joke that we need a vacation after our vacation!My problem is that I don’t feel as though I have reengaged with my surroundings. I haven’t felt fully present since our return, and it’s been over 2 weeks now! The crushing weight of all I have to do is overwhelming. Rewriting my syllabus for the college, introducing and writing curriculum for a brand new course, preparing to expand my art therapy practice, my daughter moving to NYC to begin graduate school, and the list goes on and on. DSCF2502So how do we re-engage after a break? I’m not just referring to vacations, because many people struggle with re-entry into the real world following maternity leave or following a medical leave. How can we re-enter following a layoff, or even a long weekend? I don’t have all the answers, but I can share some of the things that have helped me get back into the swing of things.

  1. Lists! I love making lists and I have notebooks full of them. I carry around a thin notebook and write notes and lists daily. I keep a list in my car as well.
  2. Set Small Attainable Goals. I wrote a list a few years ago and on it I had written “Write a Book!” That’s a great idea and something I hope to accomplish one day, but I realized that it was an unrealistic goal for my life right now? Put your ideas in order of importance/priority. It may seem silly, but it really helps. Scratch out any lofty goals if you know you don’t have time for them right now.
  3.  Unpack Bags. Clutter can be exhausting, even if you’re just looking at it! Don’t leave a suitcase full of dirty clothes laying around. I know it sounds daunting, but take care of it now, or you’ll wake up and discover you’re out of clean underwear!
  4. Sleep Well. I know, it’s easier said than done! But this is HUGE and we forget how important it is for the body and mind to POWER DOWN. More on the importance of sleep in a later blog post.
  5. Be Aware Of What’s Depleting Your Energy. Re-entry can be an extremely anxiety-prone time. Worrying depletes energy and you need all the energy you can muster to get back to work and life. If you loaded up on carbs and unhealthy foods during your time away, stock your fridge with fruits and veggies. Throw some fruit and yogurt in a blender and make yourself a calcium rich fruit smoothie!
  6. Gratitude! Give thanks for all that you have in your life. Realize what a gift it was to have the opportunity to take a vacation!
  7. Talk To A Friend Or Therapist. Therapy isn’t just for serious problems. Sometimes a few sessions can help to reorganize and reenergize your thoughts, and bring clarity when needed.


It is often the little things that help us the most. I think I am finally close to achieving re-entry following my vacation. It is a difficult process, but to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed, start small and simple. Unpack, throw a couple of loads in the washer, make a list of small attainable chores – even something as small as returning a phone call – these small steps have made a big difference for me and I hope they do for you, too.

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Doodle For Your Noodle!

Ten Reasons Doodling is Good for You

 Doodling 3

1.   Exploration.  The same region of our brain that lights up while we innovate and improvise, also activates while we doodle. Doodling is another way to express our creativity.

2.   Concentration.  Doodling improves our ability to focus and concentrate. Students who doodle in their notebooks often retain more information, because they are utilizing both hemispheres of their brains.

3.   MemoryDoodlers retain more information. This should be encouraged from childhood to adulthood, because it creates a higher memory capacity.

4.   Problem Solving.  Doodling is associative and not linear. It allows you to visualize a problem and create solutions based on a wider perspective, rather than on a narrow train of thought.

5.   Mental Time Out.  Putting pen to paper in a random way limits the focus and allows more space in the brain. This aspect of doodling relaxes the mind and creates a mental time-out – which is refreshing in a world of hyper stimulation.


6.   Seeing the Big PictureDoodlers tend to be more skilled at seeing the big picture. This seems to be true for a corporate strategist as well as a parent planning dinner.

7.   Multi-taskingThe ability to multi-task is enhanced by stimulating multiple regions of the brain at the same time. It rewires the brain and creates new pathways that are trained to operate simultaneously.

8.   Thinking Outside the BoxDoodling naturally helps us break out of our habitual thought patterns. It enables our ability to recognize and react to subtle nuances in life.

9.   ImaginationA person who doodles is not limited by what they have seen before. The doodle may start out recognizable, but will become unbounded, as it evolves on the page.

10.   Doodling is Fun!  Doodlers doodle because it is fun and satisfying. Random lines and patterns that emerge from a central source have a natural beauty. Doodling can produce a moment of happiness and pleasure.

What are you waiting for? Start doodling, today!

Doodling 2

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