Casey is studying to become a therapist, but not any old therapist – her methods will be based on the use of art.
That’s right. She’s like the Patch Adams of finger painting and drawing.
Casey’s skills allow her to help individuals express their feelings through creation. Her mentoring has helped to change the lives of her patients, and their families. Casey took time out of her busy day of promoting mental health through self-expression and creativity to talk with BOJ about this very unique profession.
BOJ: What is art therapy?
CC: I don’t think I’ve ever met someone that knows what art therapy is, which is pretty curious to me! However, art therapy is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a just another form of therapy using art. The creative process is combined with various psychotherapeutic techniques to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well being of an individual. Unlike talk therapy, art therapy allows a person to disclose inner thoughts and conflicts at their own pace. It’s a lot less intimidating to draw rather than talk about personal things with a stranger, right?
BOJ: What kinds of art does art therapy use?
CC: Anything at all. Anything ranging from pencil and paper, to paint, to sculpture, to embroidery. The media is pretty limitless when it comes to art because art is such a broad term. It doesn’t matter if the client is coloring on the sidewalk with chalk. If they are using some kind creative expression by making something, I would say it’s art therapy.
BOJ: What kind of people use art therapy?
CC: Anyone! The elderly, adults and children. Art therapy can benefit populations ranging from drug addicts, to psychotics, to cancer patients, to people who just feel down once in a while.
It’s especially helpful to children since art is kind of like second nature to them. Like I said, it’s much easier for a child to draw rather than talk about their feelings.
BOJ: What is a day in the life of an art therapist like?
CC: Um… awesome?! My days are filled with art, creativity and extremely FUN clients. I currently work as a facilitator to two different art therapy groups for autistic children and teens. One is an art/theatre group for children at EMU, and the other is an art therapy workshop with teens at WSU. I also help run an art class at a school in Detroit with cognitively impaired individuals ages 18-26. As you could imagine, there’s really never a dull moment.
BOJ: What skills does one need to become an art therapist?
CC: PATIENCE. You need to be a people-person. Clearly, it also helps to have an art background.
BOJ: Are you like the patch adams of finger painting and drawing?!
CC: Well I certainly hope so… I idolize that mustache of his. But honestly, that’s the beauty of this profession. I get to meet many kinds of people and we have a good time making art. For the short amount of time that I’m with a client, I aim to make their day better and increase their self-confidence. I believe that doing this consistently can eventually improve one’s wellbeing.
BOJ: How have you seen art therapy help someone?
CC: Last year one of my students in the inner city was involved in a gang and didn’t make the best choices. At the end of our program, he explained that the artistic process inspired him to change his ways and he wanted to end the “gang activity.” That was pretty amazing to be a part of.
BOJ: What would you tell someone looking to pursue a career in art therapy administration?
CC: If you’re looking for a job that will make you millions, art therapy isn’t for you. However, it is an extremely fulfilling and humbling career! I would highly recommend pursuing it if you love art and want to help others. I feel extremely lucky to have discovered this career path.