Two members from the University of Indianapolis faculty are a part of the Indiana Art Therapy board. Michelle Itczak is an assistant professor in the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences, and the practicum and internship coordinator for the counseling and art therapy programs. Rachel Feldwisch is an assistant professor and the director of Counseling College of the Behavior and Applied Sciences.
“[Indiana Art Therapy Association] is a chapter of art therapists here in Indiana,” Itczak said. “The whole goal behind developing it was to raise awareness about art therapy in the state, have a networking opportunity for art therapists in the state and build up the profession in the state of Indiana.”
According to Itczak, the Indiana Art Therapy Association has been around since 2010. Feldwisch said the association began as a collaboration between people with a passion for art therapy.
“The organization started when a group of art therapy students from Saint Mary of the Woods College… organized a meeting at someone’s house,” Feldwisch said. “It was very informal. There were snacks and art-making and really just people coming together to talk about art therapy. Over time, it evolved into a true professional organization.”
Itczak was one of the founders of the board and is now the Treasurer for the Indiana Art Therapy Association. She began this position this year. As treasurer, Itczak manages the finances and helps provide funding for activities.
Itczak said her passion for art therapy is helping to grow the field. When she was an undergrad, she did not have very many people to reach out to about art therapy, she said. Itczak said she hopes to help more people be aware of the field.
“I would have loved as a student to have been able to interview an art therapist,” Itczak said. “I was not able to do that because I didn’t have a way to get a hold of them.”
Along with Itczak, Feldwisch was also a part of helping create the Indiana Art Therapy Association. Having held the position of treasurer for the past two years, Feldwisch became the president of the association in January 2020, she said. As president, she takes a leadership position on the organization’s board for the next two years, Feldwisch said. According to Feldwisch, the board makes decisions in terms of initiatives, meeting structure and budget planning. She said she plans to bring a lot to the Indiana Art Therapy Association.
“Some of the things [the board is] hoping to do is to modernize our professional organization,” Feldwisch said. “So, having more meetings that are virtual, having meetings via Zoom, having Facebook live posts… trying to be a little bit more creative and flexible about what a professional organization and our meetings look like.”
Feldwisch said she is passionate about the training of UIndy art therapy students. She said it is important for people to understand art therapy’s historical development and the future of the profession. According to Feldwisch, art therapists are beginning to see solid research emerging in the field. She said there is a publication for the profession entitled The Journal of the American Art Therapy Association. Articles in the publication contain theories, research and general knowledge associated with the field, Feldwisch said.
“For me [the academic journal] is seeing what is happening right now in the present,” Feldwisch said. “I have a lot of excitement about where we are headed in the future.”