A lot of current events are causing people to feel their feelings more deeply in recent years. The CDC’s concerning February report shows that teen girls are experiencing record levels of violence and sadness, with one in three reportedly experiencing suicidal thoughts. But teens aren’t the only ones experiencing an influx of mental health struggles–with layoffs impacting nearly every industry and economists predicting an upcoming recession, it’s a tough time for all of us. While the stigma surrounding mental health is lessening, there is an urgent lack of suitable resources for supporting mental health in an accessible way. Enter The Big Feelings Survival Guide: A Creative Workbook for Mental Health (Workman Publishing), an approachable, illustrated workbook for all ages that combines Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and art therapy, grounded in a strong clinical underpinning.

The Big Feelings Survival Guide

Registered art therapist and licensed counselor Alyse Ruriani (she/they) is no stranger to mental health struggles.As a teenager, Ruriani was treated with DBT and art therapy and found the combination of therapies extremely effective. But they longed for a workbook that left room for creativity and skipped the heavy, clinical feel while including science-based exercises. Combining the skills she later built as an art therapist, counselor, and illustrator with her lived experience as a queer person with disabilities, she designed the workbook of her dreams: an accessible approach combining DBT skills with creative prompts, providing readers with a unique tool for self-care and to develop coping mechanisms.

The ultimate goal of DBT is to help people build "a life worth living," in whatever form feels right to them.The Big Feelings Survival Guide is committed to this goal by meeting the reader where they are, regardless of age or experience. This resource encourages readers to dedicate time to well-being, connect with creativity, and learn practical skills that they can use in everyday life to take care of themselves.

Ruriani is a powerful advocate for therapy who has built an Instagram community with over 53.4K followers by being unapologetically herself and practicing the DBT skill of radical acceptance. With The Big Feelings Survival Guide, Ruriani passes on the lessons they’ve learned from their wide-ranging personal experience with therapy–from utilizing it to becoming a credentialed expert–in order to empower a new generation of readers.

Alyse Ruriani

More about the author:

Alyse Ruriani, MA, ATR, LPC (she/they) is a queer femme registered art therapist, licensed professional counselor, illustrator, and person with lived experience. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in GraphicDesign and a Masters in Art Therapy and Counseling. Alyse’s work aims to communicate information, provide tangible tools, and validate the human experience through engaging illustrations and designs.They live in a colorful apartment in Chicago with their black cat/co-therapist Boo. When Alyse is not working, you can likely find her swimming in some body of water, making art with friends, or hyperfixating on some new idea. Find Alyse on Instagram, Tiktok, and Twitter at @alyseruriani.


Alicia Puig has been a contributing writer for Create! Magazine since 2017.