Denise Malis

Assistant Professor of Expressive Therapies

Denise Malis

Dr. Denise Malis, is a board certified art therapist and an artist. She has taught and mentored graduate and undergraduate students since 1999 at Lesley University, Endicott College and recently LASALLE College of the Arts in Singapore.  Dr. Malis has over 25 years of clinical, supervisory, and creative practice experience. She has worked with a range of populations and in a variety of settings in the Boston area, such as treatment facilities for adults, expressive arts studio programs with adults with autism, and older adults in nursing home settings. She established art-for-all studio in Somerville, MA as a private practice in 2003 and developed and ran the Art Mentoring Program for 10 years.  This program allowed adults with significant mental illness to invest in their visual voice, flourish and thrive as artists within the context and acceptance of the Somerville artist community.  

Alongside her ongoing interest in art therapy Dr. Malis remains deeply committed to her art practice.  As an artist she has exhibited her artwork in group and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally.  She is committed to artists in the community and was a contributing member to the formation of Somerville Open Studios, in Somerville, MA.  She also cofounded a cooperative gallery in the South End in Boston, MA.  Dr. Malis has a long-standing interest in the image and believes that the art experience holds the capacity for deep meaning making.  Art as inquiry is threaded through her clinical work, pedagogy, and scholarship. She remains committed to the inclusive creative development of individuals in their communities and believes that art is an ongoing personal process of inquiry, expression and well-being. 


Malis, D. (2017).  Crafting the visual voice: Art as agency in studio art therapy.  ATOL.

Malis, D. & Alter-Muri, S. (2007).  Imagistic imagery exchange in mother-daughter art making. In K. Frostig,  & K. Halamka,  (Eds.), Blaze: Discourse on art, women and feminism (pp. 259-267). Newcastle, United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

In 2017 Dr. Malis will be a contributing presenter at The Psychology & the Other conference in Boston.  She will be discussing arts-based reflexivity in data analysis used in her doctoral research.  She will be presenting Aesthetic Response and the Empathetic Encounter in a Graduate Art Therapy Course at the International Visual Literacy Association Conference.

Dr. Malis will have a solo exhibition of recent artwork at Marran Gallery in September 2017. 


PhD, Lesley University
MA, Expressive Therapies, Lesley University
MFA, University of Cincinnati
BFA (Honours), University of Manitoba, Canada

Board Certified Registered Art Therapist (ATR-BC)
Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)