UWS celebrates 20 years of Art Therapy
The University of Western Sydney has celebrated 20 years of helping people overcome adversity and trauma through Art Therapy with a cocktail dinner at the historic UWS Parramatta campus.
Staff, past students, service providers and service users gathered at the Boilerhouse restaurant with practicing arts therapists and arts therapy researchers from around the world.
Together they created a dynamic reflection on the art therapy program by sharing stories on how the process of making art has helped overcome patients' distress by allowing them to better communicate their feelings to achieve new insights.
The Cocktail Reception was held during the Australian and New Zealand Art Therapy Association Conference, and featured a variety of stories and images of art therapy work during the evening.
The Master of Art Therapy Course Director, Dr Sheridan Linnell from the School of Social Sciences and Psychology, says art therapy is a valuable form of psychotherapy with individuals, families, groups and communities.
Dr Linnell says art therapy is practiced in diverse ways, in contexts that vary from drop-in community studios to formal clinical settings.
"Many of us are taught within our families and wider cultures to cover up what we are feeling and to just 'get on with it'", she says.
"This is where art therapy is a valuable form of psychotherapy as it can help people make some form of art as a way of expressing, understanding and communicating their difficulties and connecting with others. Art therapy is an inclusive process that taps into the creativity in everyone."
"Our graduates are now using this proven approach to effect meaningful change through their work in hospitals, mental health services, education and community-based facilities."
The Dean of the UWS School of Social Sciences, Professor Kevin Dunn, has paid tribute to the Art Therapy program.
"The longevity, resilience and innovation of the Art Therapy Masters program at UWS is well worth celebrating," Professor Dunn says.
"In Australia, the vigorous UWS program is unique and highly significant. Our alumni - over two hundred of them now - have made amazing therapeutic contributions and have touched many lives over this time."
"On behalf of the University I'd like to thank everyone involved with the program for their work."
22 October 2013
Photos: Olga Nebot