Ellen Smithey, MA, ATR, EMDR



Art Therapist, Trauma Informed, Sand Tray Therapy

Ellen is a trauma informed art therapist located in Metro Detroit. She earned her masters degree in counseling and art therapy from George Washington University, and her passion for healing has led her to work in medical and psychiatric hospital settings, with adults and children experiencing homelessness, those struggling with substance use and mental health issues, and those diagnosed with cancer or the family members of the patient. I specialize in women experiencing PTSD, family conflict, trauma, and/or anxiety in their daily lives.

I am here to meet you where you are. Sometimes traditional talk therapy comes to a “stuck” point and not all experiences can be processed verbally. I utilize arts-based medium, sand tray, embodiment techniques, and nature to enhance the healing and processing experience. Additionally I combine intersectional, feminist based psychotherapy, neuropsychology, and trauma informed approaches to curate a unique, collaborative approach to your treatment. I aim to provide each client with a positive, consistent therapeutic experience.

I utilize an expressive approach to psychotherapy and counseling techniques. I am highly trained and experienced in Art Therapy, which incorporates a variety of art materials to aid in the nonverbal healing process. Additionally, I am Sand Tray therapy certified, which involves the use of sand and figurines to allow the client to attach symbols to life events and to engage in sensory exploration. I utilize a Play Therapy techniques for her younger clients, which involves active and metaphorical role playing in session to increase positive behaviors. My counseling techniques incorporate mindfulness based approaches as well as mind, body, spiritual, and social justice approaches to healing trauma.

My Ideal Client:

I work with both adults and children who have experienced extensive trauma in early childhood. Often, adults who have experienced childhood trauma (sexual, physical, or emotional abuse), experience feelings of shame, guilt, and low self confidence, making it difficult to talk about one’s experience. Children who have traumatic experiences are often unable to put their experience into words, and require creative communication tools. I bring emotional and bodily awareness to clients, which allows them to fully work through their trauma in a safe, non verbal context.

Tel: 248-759-8463
Hours: After 12pm on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays
Rate: Initial session: $160 – includes a range of assessments, diagnosis, and treatment plan. Subsequent sessions $130
Insurance: Ellen is out of network (OON) for all insurance plans; you may be able to seek reimbursement from your insurance company on your own. You can also speak to Ellen about possible openings for sliding scale.

In Person


What Inspires Me:

“Stop trying to control how you feel and instead control what you do about it.”

Ellen is a huge social justice advocate, especially when it comes to the women’s rights movement, Black Lives Matter, and LGBTQIA+ community. Ellen holds regular virtual social justice events to promote businesses such as Affirmations, The Ruth Ellis Center, Planned Parenthood, and Michigan Black Therapy Fund. She additionally works with the Max and Marjorie Fisher Foundation to bring art therapy services to underserved youth in Detroit. Ellen is an advocate and currently researching women and girls’ empowerment when working with textiles in a therapeutic setting, her research is set to publish in 2021. Lastly, Ellen is a strong believer in the Health at Every Size movement and has taken the pledge to bring awareness to body positivity and body liberation.