Specializations & Background

As a creative arts therapist, it is my goal to provide outstanding flexibility, creativity, empathy, and insight to my clients. In ten years of clinical practice, I have developed a more directive, mind-body approach, taking into account all aspects of the human experience, including the biological, mental, spiritual, and emotional components.   To learn more about my qualifications and experience, please see below. Click here to learn more about my stylistic approach.


I see adults who struggle with issues related to a history of trauma, depression, anxiety, romantic problems, body image, existential/spiritual crises, attachment disturbances, and complicated grief.

My therapeutic philosophy focuses on psycho-emotional issues, through a mindfulness-based approach to creative arts therapy. My training as a Reiki practitioner (a form of spiritual and energetic healing) also influences how we may work with the chakras in treatment.

As a creative arts therapist, I approach therapy and treatment from an multidimensional perspective, including five basic rules:

  1. Every individual must be approached from a bio-psycho-social-spiritual perspective.
  2. Every individual experiences some form of trauma, loss, or grief in their life, as early as young adulthood, if not (tragically) sooner.
  3. Relationships and intimacy are essential to healthy functioning, regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, or cultural background.
  4. “Love,” “vulnerability,” and “spirituality” are not dirty words.
  5. The client must be a full participant in the treatment process, and the therapist must be fully transparent with the client with regards to his or her progress (even if it is hard to hear!).

Mindfulness and Creative Arts Therapy

In my practice, I like to play with metaphor, mindfulness, and energetic activation in the body, which includes surrendering to the moment and embracing what is without feeling pressured to change it.

Self-compassion is at the root of my therapeutic philosophy.

It is not about being solution-focused and producing for the sake of “getting results,” or “failing to launch” and waiting for the world to come to you; its about finding ways to act with informed intention towards a harmonious and loving acceptance of self.

Paradoxically, once you figure out how to slow down and pay attention to what’s going on inside you, you’ll be surprised at how fast everything else falls in to place outside of you!

Potential treatment activities may include but would not be limited to:

  • Art making with a focus on process
  • Movement or bodily activation such as focusing on breath or “embodying” your artwork
  • Guided visualization exercises
  • Personalized spiritual practices
  • Writing exercises and keeping a journal
  • Energy Healing (Reiki)
  • Singing bowls and chakra balancing

I also conduct occasional psycho-educational workshops in schools, institutions, health centers, and other venues. Please follow my blog to receive more information on upcoming workshops.


After receiving my master’s degree in Creative Arts Therapy from Pratt Institute in 2006, and subsequently my license and board certification, I worked with a variety of populations that struggle with such issues as acute mental illness, HIV, addiction, homelessness, trauma, and relationship issues. I have worked in inpatient, outpatient, school-based, and community-based settings, and have been the director of the Creative Arts Therapies programs at Hartley House and the Women’s Health Center for Housing Works, Inc.

Most recently, I spent four years as a research coordinator at the Amen Clinics Inc., an agency focused on using brain scans and SPECT technology to provide accurate diagnosis and integrative treatment for mental health problems, poor nutrition, and other obscure conditions.

Dr. Amen has been a guest on CNN, PBS, Dr. Oz, Entertainment Television, Dr. Phil, The View, TedX, Rachel Ray, Larry King, and more. To learn more about The Amen Method, which focuses on the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of life and treatment, click here. To take an online brain health assessment, click here.

Currently, in addition to private practice, I am an adjunct instructor and the Director of Continuing Education for Pratt Institute’s Graduate Creative Arts Therapies Department. I teach personality development, thesis research, and clinical supervision.

Regarding publication, I have  co-authored and edited Complicated Grief, Attachment, and Art Therapy: Theory, Treatment, and 14 Ready-to-Use Protocols, currently available on amazon.com, and am under contract to publish a book on Creative Arts Therapies and the LGBTQ Community: Theory and Practice, in 2018, with Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Writing, drawing, and painting have always been my passion, and I strongly believe in the curative powers of the creative process.


Ms. MacWilliam exhibits an intuitive understanding of the dynamics of group therapy, as well as the characteristics of the individual patient. Her understanding of metaphor  and verbal processing speaks to her flexibility and creativity as an art therapist and as a clinician. Her experiences working with persons who have severe mental illness have also fine tuned her clinical understanding. It is with great confidence and esteem that I offer this recommendation on her behalf.

-Jose L. Matias Del toro, MD., Addiction Psychiatrist

I have had the benefit of watching Briana grow in her professional identity and skill, which has reached an exceptional degree. Briana demonstrates the utmost creativity, flexibility, responsibility, pragmatism, and empathy both in her practice as an art therapist, and as a mentor to our students.

-Dina Schapiro MPS, ATR-BC, Director of Creative Arts Therapy at Pratt Institute




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