the Refuge

The art of Self discovery...Creativity, Healing and Spirituality

"Let Yourself be silently drawn by the greater pull of what you really love"  Rumi


I envision " 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

"Awakening is not an arrival, and there is no finish line.  The continuum of realization ripples and swells in elevation and depth.  Our lifetimes...dedicated to being the truth that we are."  ShantiMayi


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.  Currently, 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 facilitates the Artful Grief:  Open Art Studio and presents various healing workshops at the TAPS: National Military Survivors Seminars (2009 - 2018) and the TAPS: National Suicide Survivors Conference. (2009 -2018) Professionally, Sharon presents at the Association for Death Education and Counseling, (ADEC)  offering Artful Grief: Open Art Studio experiences in 2018.  Additional ADEC presentations include, 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 / Specialty Workshop 2015. Additional all day Master Classes on Complicated Grief, Collage & Trauma Theory:  An Artful Integration were presented at The American Art Therapy Association National Conferences 2016-2018 and the Expressive Therapies Summit and Mid Atlantic Play Therapy Training Institute 2015 - 2018.

Published works can be found in: Techniques of Grief Therapy: Creative Practices for Counseling the Bereaved (Neimeyer, 2012) and Grief and the Expressive Arts:  Practices for Creating Meaning (Thompson & Neimeyer, 2014), as well as two upcoming Routledge publications, Exploring Ethical Dilemmas in Art Therapy:  50 Clinicians from 20 Countries Share their Stories (DiMaria, 2019) and Prescriptive Memory in Grief and Loss, The Art of Dreamscaping (Gershman & Thompson, 2019).  

Her private practice in Maryland includes weekly Art Therapy Circles: Artful the refuge and Continuing Bond Meditation Circles: Soul 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 45 years of marriage. 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. (


"The Way is always wherever you are. Wisdom is inherently within you. Better than knowing it...envision it, live it, and be it.  You are the manifestation of inspiration...This is Illumination."  ShantiMayi


Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved: Sharon Strouse