About Janis


I have a Post-Master’s Certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy from the Vancouver School of Expressive Arts Therapy, the module provider program of the European Graduate School. I’ve also taken introductory workshops in Crisis De-escalation (Vega Training) and Somatic Experiencing (Catherine Fallis). And I have a Master of Arts degree in English from Simon Fraser University.

My Arts Background

I came to Expressive Arts Therapy in mid-life, after a lifetime of rich and varied professional and personal experiences, including a long career as a communications and writing instructor at post-secondary level (at Simon Fraser University and Douglas College). I’ve travelled a lot and lived in other countries; lately I’ve been going to India. My own creative pursuits have been very important in my life: I’m a writer, a singer-songwriter, and actor.

I’ve acted on stages throughout the Lower Mainland and BC, and I’m a performing singer-songwriter, with a current CD, “Better This Way.”

I am a well-published writer; my work appears in various literary publications and anthologies. I have also conceived and edited (and contributed to) two anthologies. “Body Breakdowns: Tales of Illness and Recovery” (Anvil Press, 2007) is a collection of true stories from my and other writers’ experiences of being patients in medical settings, confronting our mortality, and dealing with the breakdown of our bodies, mainly at middle age. “Emails From India: Women Write Home” (Seraphim Editions, 2013) is a collection of my and other women’s experiences travelling in India.

The reason for my work on both of these books is that I saw a need for them in the world: I wished I’d had a book like “Body Breakdowns” when I was in the hospital, experiencing my own major breakdown of my body. And I wished I’d had a book like “Emails From India” when I was first travelling in India on my own. Both of these books bring together people’s experiences, so that we can learn from each other, create community, and feel less alone on our journeys.

If you’re interested in my music, books, or performances, please visit my personal-creative website, http://janisharper.ca.

Examples of Expressive Arts Experience

I’ve enjoyed working with a variety of clients, such as people with

mental health issues (with Coast Mental Health, in group and private sessions);

developmental disabilities (with L’Arche Greater Vancouver, in group and private sessions);

physical health issues (with the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s support group and Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture, in group sessions); and

life transition challenges, physical health issues, and other challenges (in private sessions).

Please note: I have identified the kinds of challenges these clients have just to give you an idea of the variety of my experience. I would like to add, however, that—like art—people can’t be “explained” nor their prominent features identified by labels like the ones above. The challenges we all face are opportunities for growth and change, and I have been greatly humbled by what I’ve received from accompanying people on their personal journeys. I am always very honoured to be invited along.

Influential Therapies and Practices

Focussing-oriented therapy
Somatic Experiencing
Body-centered therapies

Illness narrative practices
Mindfulness practices
Meditation practices
Sound practices

Energy healing

Chakra work

Accepting New Clients