Louise Lumen was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. For as long as she can remember art has always been a central means of expression for her. She is youngest of three girls born to deaf parents whose profound hearing impairments were due to early childhood illnesses (scarlet fever and spinal meningitis), and so their hearing loss was not congenital. Because of this, she and her sisters grew up bridging two worlds—the one hearing and the other deaf—the latter of which represented a unique culture in which communication was the primary difficulty. She found that speech through sign language was either painful and embarrassing, or at other times, a source of humor for the family. Seeing first-hand the difficulties of that disability fostered in her an acute sensitivity to other people with various physical or mental challenges. This experience also helped her to choose a career path that eventually led to her becoming an art therapist, working mainly with those who suffered from early sexual abuse or life-threatening illnesses. She received her B.A. in Liberal Arts with an Art major from Webster College in St. Louis, MO; an M.F.A. in painting from Mills College in Oakland, CA; and later an M.A. in Art Therapy from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. As a Registered Art Therapist (ATR), she has worked for thirty years in counseling centers, private practice, and psychiatric hospitals mostly with women who were sexually abused as children, and also with persons with life-threatening illnesses or those who are bereaved. As a Hospice volunteer, she has utilized Art Therapy with cancer patients and has also run support groups for medical staff and other volunteers to help them to process their ongoing work-related losses. Her previous publication was a case study entitled “Michael: An Illustrated Story of a Young Man with Cancer,” published in the American Journal of Art Therapy, precursor to The Journal of the American Art Therapy Association. Three pieces of her artwork were published as cover designs for Tiferet: A Journal of Spiritual Literature. Descent and Return: An Incest Survivor’s Healing Journey through Art Therapy represents for her the fruition of a life’s work, and for which she is grateful to have received the wise, patient, and skillful help of many friends.
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