Erica at work 2 small.jpg

Our vision: to provide people with the opportunity to discover their creative potential through art therapy and to enhance their mental health and well-being

Our mission: to provide a unique model of high quality Art Therapy services to the community 

melbourne art therapy studio

The idea for the Melbourne Art Therapy Studio began one March day in 2003 when Robyn deVries (left), Celia Adams and Effie Chaniotis  embarked on their Masters in Art Therapy together at La Trobe University. Their shared dream of opening a uniquely accessible art therapy studio emerged even before they were let loose in the Art Therapy room for the first time.

And so, the idea was born, germinated, grew, and was nurtured and re-visited with regular peer supervision throughout their training together. (The wonderful Denise Lynch deserves a special mention here. She was part of the core group, but embarked on her own special adventure with her brand new triplets). So just around the time the Abbotsford Convent opened its doors to tenants, a long time “friend of the Convent” Hilary Archer approached Celia to let her know about this fantastic opportunity.


The Melbourne Art Therapy Studio originated in a small studio on the first floor of the Convent, when there were only a handful of tenants. There was no Lentil as Anything, no Convent Bakery, and (hard to imagine) no Handsome Steve’s House of Refreshment. The place was mostly eerily deserted. Since then, it has grown exponentially to become a bustling, vibrant artist community and hub for people from all over Victoria.


The Melbourne Art Therapy has grown from strength to strength since 2005, with invaluable contributions from Celia, Effie and Robyn, each offering their own set of talents & skills to the venture. Their shared vision and goals for the studio have been achieved and even surpassed. They moved into a larger, brighter studio in 2008. They have created wonderful and rewarding relationships with services and clients over the past few years, and are very fortunate to have such a diverse array of experiences on offer to an equally diverse array of client groups.




image above left "Here Lies Should" Installation by Robyn deVries 2013
Abbotsford Convent main building courtyard.
a quiet place for people to come & bury their "shoulds"
image below: Ollie the art therapy dog

Robyn deVries (AThR)


Robyn is continuing the Melbourne Art Therapy Studio dream. She regularly facilitates groups, both at the Studio and elsewhere. She has over 14 year's experience working with addictions, in schools, in palliative care, in general mental heath, aged care, with autism and many other sectors. She facilitates workshops, is on The School of Life faculty, teaches at Ikon Institute of Australia and sees many amazing people in individual sessions in the Studio.  Robyn's interests include assisting people to tap into self compassion and judgements, to play, to explore, to be curious, to push boundaries and to break the rules, but not the law.  

She now employs Arts Therapists on a sessional basis. Robyn is professional member of ANZACATA (Australia & New Zealand Art Therapy Association), and completed a diploma in Gestalt Therapy in 2006, and also runs Inspired Teams (see www.inspiredteams.com.au). She also holds a Masters in Art in Public Space. More about Robyn's art practice here


Jackie Burden (AThR)

Jackie is a professional member of The Australian, New Zealand and Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association (ANZACATA), a Master of Art Therapy (LaTrobe University), is completing a Master of Counselling (Swinburne University) and is a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Australian National University).  Her goal is to discover each individual’s material and subject interests and to develop creatively therapeutic interactions with reference to clients’ own goals, diagnosis, personal history, developmental stage and specific challenges such as grief, loss and trauma, and emotional states. Jackie works with older adults including those with dementia and other neurological conditions, carers experiencing significant grief, loss and anger, children and young people with autism, people with intellectual disabilities, people with mental health conditions and cancer. Dementia is a special interest – finding ways to discover and honour the person who is still within.  

Erica Mainprize (AThR)

Erica has been a practising art therapist since she graduated from La Trobe University ten years ago. Much of her work has been in the overlapping area of brain injury and mental health, mostly in the role of honorary therapist at the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre in Kew.  She has also worked with a range of community-based participants, dealing with a great variety of knotty life challenges. In her own art making Erica enjoys experimenting with unfamiliar media. This wandering-tinkering helps her to support participants to find their own sweet spot where discoveries can be made. 

who we are...