Art therapist uses experiences with kids to pen smile therapy book for adults

Lisa Barrett, an art therapist who runs her practice, Touched By Art Therapy, LLC, in South Windsor, has made her dream come to fruition by publishing a book highlighting the real health benefits of smiling and laughter.

Using her experiences working with young people, Barrett’s book is aimed at adults who could use another way to cope with stress, depression, and other afflictions.

The book, Laughter, Wisdom and Innocence: Surprising Quotes from Childrentakes experiences and anecdotes from her years of working with children, and reiterates them in a way that is intended to raise the spirits of readers.

“In 2019, I just started being aware of the comments, and how the kids really can say some inspiring, endearing, and really funny things,” she said, adding that she started taking notes, and then sharing some of the anecdotes with others people in other environments.

“I always got the same response, which was just laughing,” she said. “I said, ‘You know, this really needs to be shared,’ because laughing in itself, and smiling in itself, has therapeutic modality within the body’s chemistry . It elicits serotonin, which is the feel-good chemical. It helps to calm your central nervous system, and there are several healing modalities just for smiling, and that even goes for when you force a smile, because the brain doesn’t know the difference.”

She also saw a big need in people during, and after, the pandemic.

“I really want to spread laughter to people, because we need it,” she said. “We need more of that all the time.”

She continued to add quotes to her arsenal, along with sketches that go along with the scenarios. In 2021, she found an editor and began putting everything together.

“We made it happen in a pretty quick amount of time,” she said, adding that the recently-published book got a best new release honor within its first two weeks.

“I’ve been looking at some of the reviews, and people are having the very response which is the purpose of the book,” she said. They’re at times laughing out loud. They really just enjoyed it.”

Her clients, as young as 4 years old, range up through young adults and adults, but are mostly kids and teenagers. She said that besides making people smile, she wanted the book to be an inspiration to anyone going through any sort of tough time.

“Amongst all of their inner turmoil, the kids were able to have these moments of clarity, wisdom, and joy – beyond what us adults find,” she said.

Readers of the book will see short quotes from children, broken down into chapters from different ages, along with illustrations by Barrett herself.

“They can expect themselves to smile at some of the quotes, and may even find themselves laughing out loud,” Barrett said. “Anyone who has children, works with children, or just is an adult, is going to appreciate this.”

A graduate of St. Joseph’s college with a major in psychology and a minor in art therapy, Barrett, a Manchester resident, got her master’s degree at Springfield College, as a licensed professional counselor and a registered art therapist.

For her 3,000 clinical hours needed before taking her state license test, she worked at a psychiatric hospital, then worked in a practice under supervision before opening her own practice in 2019.

Through her career as a social worker and therapist, including at care facilities, Barrett became Director of Adjunctive Therapies at Stoningtion Institute, where she directed all programming for healing through expressive modalities for the hospital’s unit for developmental disabilities and its residential units as well.

Laughter, Wisdom and Innocence: Surprising Quotes from Children is available through Amazon. For more information, visit

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