Art Therapy adds variety to UIndy curriculum

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Art therapy discussion presented by senior pre-art therapy major Alexandria Bishop. Students experiencing art in a new way that will allow personal and professional growth and development. Feb.23. Photo by Badar Alageel

Art, refreshments and socializing provided a break from the daily grind for University of Indianapolis students during the “Art Therapy Discussion” event held in the Health Pavilion on Thursday, Feb. 23. The event was open to all students. The evening began with a brief presentation by senior art therapy major Allie Bishop about the importance of appreciating art therapy as a legitimate medical profession rather than only a creative outlet. Bishop shared her plans to attend graduate school at Southwestern College in New Mexico and commended UIndy for preparing her for the experience.

“The psych[ology] club invited me [to give a presentation], and I accepted because I am very passionate [about this] and can’t wait to grow my career in art therapy,” Bishop said. “I definitely think the fact that UIndy has a pre-art therapy program [has helped me prepare for graduate school]. Not a lot of schools have that. I stood out as a candidate because of my experiences working with the community.”

Bishop provided examples of her involvement within the community and other opportunities, which included visits to Bethany Village Assisted Living, Indiana Center for Children and Families and a service learning trip to Belize. Freshman psychology major Skylar Haywood said that she enjoyed Bishop’s presentation about art therapy principles and the activity that followed.

“I was very interested in the project that we did,” Haywood said. “It was nice to know what true art therapy is, not just through coloring books.”

Following the presentation, sheets of black paper were distributed to attendees so they could make designs of their choosing using liquid glue. While still wet, the designs were covered with a layer of salt. Then the salt was brushed off, and the designs were carefully decorated using an array of different watercolor paints, which the salt immediately absorbed. Food and refreshments were provided as participants completed their pieces, an activity Bishop said she uses often during volunteer projects.

Junior elementary education major Diana Eutsey said that she enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere, and the simple project proved to be a welcome break from her studies.

“The main reason I came today was because of the amount of stress I’ve been having with my coursework,” Eutsey said. “It’s [the project is] bringing out my inner child.”

According to Bishop’s presentation, art therapy is used to treat all ages and help with substance abuse, addiction, personal problems, mental illness, domestic violence, disability, trauma and other health-related issues.

UIndy’s pre-art therapy program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and combines psychology and basic artistic knowledge in the curriculum. This fall, the university’s graduate program in art therapy will debut, applications for which were due March 1. Bishop said the subject provides an opportunity for medical students to express themselves creatively, or as the Feb. 23 event demonstrated, provides respite for students in need of a break from everyday life.

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