Attention, Students!

by

Attention, Students!

I’ve given many presentations around town in recent years, and I’m always amazed by the number of counseling/marriage & family therapy/social work students who show up for these events.  I’d say the world of mental health is falling into good hands if up-and-coming practitioners are motivated enough to spend their precious time (and sometimes their precious money) attending trainings that are above and beyond their demanding courseloads and practica.  But it’s always somewhat of a bittersweet experience to present in front of Texas students who are clearly hungry for a broader, deeper understanding of the therapeutic application of artmaking.  Their graduate programs are of no assistance in this area, as they are dominated by national educational requirements that leave little room for anything additional.  Besides, none of these programs employ art therapists, so it’s unlikely that Professor Non-Art Therapist would be able to provide sound education in art therapy theory and technique.

 

Texas graduate counseling programs would be the most likely source of opportunities to incorporate art therapy coursework and practica, as the Licensed Professional Counselor Act (Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 503) provides title protection to art therapists through the establishment of an art therapy specialty license: the LPC-AT.  How unfortunate that no Texas graduate counseling program has made a move to offer a track that would lead to licensure as an LPC-AT.  Texans basically have two choices when they’re interested in a career as a mental health practitioner who utilizes art materials and methods with clients: [1] to pursue a graduate education in art therapy elsewhere (which means Texas insitutions of higher education are letting tuition money and local talent slip out of their hands), or [2] to attend an in-state graduate mental health program and then take shots in the dark as they try to make creativity work for their clients in the absence of formal training in this area.  The latter poses obvious ethical concerns.  So what’s a Texas mental health graduate student with therapeutic artmaking inclinations to do?

 

If you are—or if any student you know is—interested in learning more about the therapeutic application of artmaking, I would suggest becoming a student member of the American Art Therapy Association.  Membership at this level requires proof of full-time status as a student, but it is otherwise open to any student regardless of the program you’re in (I even became a student member back in my undergrad days).  What’s in it for you?  You can click here to see a full list of the benefits, but some of the highlights include a discount at the annual AATA conference (mark your calendar for Savannah in July!), electronic access to current and archived issues of Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, and electronic quarterly newsletters/ monthly updates.  Any of these would serve as a nice supplement to the quality but “therapeutic artmaking-less” program you’re in right now.  In addition, such perks will help prevent you from becoming one of those shot-in-the-dark therapists later on by expanding your awareness of what it really means to introduce art materials and methods into your sessions.  I’m offering as many workshops as I can through ABCs for Therapists and other venues, but I’m only one person!  If you need more, AATA is your best bet.

 

And for the benefit of future students like yourself, please write to your program chair as well as to the dean and the president of the school you’re attending and express your concern about the lack of graduate art therapy training available to you.  Money talks, so if you can give the higher-ups an understanding of the revenue that could be generated by becoming the first school in the state to add a track leading to licensure as an LPC-AT, people will begin to listen.  Credibility talks too, so if you can translate safe and effective practice in terms of providing the training necessary for this, you’ll eventually gain an audience.  Most graduate programs and institutions of higher education want to be associated with money and credibility, just like the rest of us!  One fine day there will be a graduate art therapy program in Texas…wouldn’t you like to be able to say you had a hand in getting it here?  Think of the students who will thank you profusely, and think of the continuing education opportunities their program will provide for your future professional self!

 

With appreciation for the important work you do,

Megan October 2011

About the Image on This Page

This is a thumbnail of Abstract Art, posted to The Public Domain website by Mitch Featherston in 2012.  Click here for more information.