I envision "Awakening...at the Refuge" as a sacred space to gather, a place to "accept the present moment and find the perfection that is deeper than any form and untouched by time." Eckhart Tolle
To provide creative, healing and spiritual opportunities for Self discovery through direct experiences in circles, workshops, retreats and trainings.
"Don't turn away! Keep you gaze on the bandaged place. That is where the light enters you. Rumi
Sharon Strouse, MA, ATR-BC, LCPAT is a board certified Art Therapist and licensed clinical professional Art Therapist with thirty years of clinical experience with adults in both group and individual settings. During 10 of those years Sharon studied with Sheila Foster, M.A. at the Temenos Center. This community is a spiritual container for awakening and initiation. It offers experiences of quieting the mind and opening the heart. Sharon's willingness to meet life as it is, ultimately sustained her during the most heart-breaking event of her life. Sharon became a survivor of suicide on October 11, 2001, when her seventeen year old daughter Kristin Rita Strouse ended her own life. This loss became a portal into the depths of grief and self discovery. As a health care provider she was determined to find her way in the aftermath of her daughter's suicide. She embraced both traditional and alternative modalities of healing. She joined a Survivors of Suicide Bereavement Group. She also joined a Spiritual Development Circle and sat weekly with Janet Cyford, a Traditional British Medium, for seven years. A year after Kristin's death she immersed herself in a creative process, creating one collage after another. She amassed a large body of work that became the foundation for her book, Artful Grief: A Diary of Healing /Balboa Press 2013.
Her meditation and collage practices eventually evolved into a template for work with others. In 2003 Sharon was invited to share her collage images at a local chapter of The Compassionate Friends (TCF) a world wide organization for parents who have lost children. She moved quickly onto the national stage for TCF, presenting meditation and collage workshops in Boston 2005, Dearborn 2006, Oklahoma City 2007, Nashville, 2008, Portland 2009, Arlington 2010, Minneapolis 2011, Costa Mesa 2012, Boston 2013, Chicago 2014, and Dallas 2015. In addition, Sharon is a workshop presenter for The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) an organization that offers immediate and long term emotional help, hope and healing to anyone grieving the death of a loved one in military service to America. She has facilitated the Artful Grief: Open Art Studio and presented various healing workshops at the TAPS: National Military Survivors Seminar 2009 - 2018. and the TAPS: National Suicide Survivors Conference 2009 -2018. At the Association for Death Education and Counseling, Sharon presented Artful Grief: A Case Study of Image Making and Meaning: Poster Presentation 2012, Artful Grief: Collage...transforming identity: Poster Presentation 2013, A Hero's Journey: Images of Descent, Initiation and Return: Workshop Presentation 2014 and Collage and Beyond in Thompson and Niemeyer's: Grief and the Expressive Arts: An Experiential Workshop 2015.
Additional published works can be found in Neimeyer: Techniques of Grief Therapy: Creative Practices for Counseling the Bereaved (2012) and Thompson and Neimeyer: Grief and the Expressive Arts: Practices for Creating Meaning (2014), as well as two upcoming Routledge publications, DiMaria: Exploring Ethical Dilemmas in Art Therapy: 50 Clinicians from 20 Countries Share their Stories (2018) and Gershman and Thompson: The Art of Dreamscaping in Grief and Loss, Co-creating Healing Realities (2019).
Currently Sharon offers weekly art therapy circles: Artful Grief...at the refuge and spiritual and intuitive development circles: Soul gatherings...at the Refuge. Her workshops, shaped by her personal and professional experiences, are in demand and sought out by those working through issues of loss. Her workshops are a culmination of a life time of heart opening experiences and a devotion to the unfolding process of awakening.
Sharon and her husband Douglas share 44 years of marriage. They have three wonderful children Kimberly, Kevin and Kristin in spirit. They serve on the Board of Advisors for the Johns Hopkins Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. They support the Johns Hopkins: Adolescent Depression Awareness Program (ADAP), The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), Survivors of Suicide (SOS), The Compassionate Friends (TCF), The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), and The New Day Champagne. They are co-founders of the Kristin Rita Strouse Foundation for Mental Health Awareness, Education and Suicide Prevention. (www.krsf.com)