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SUNY Plattsburgh Art Therapy Program Merges Visual Art and Psychology With Helping People

Art Therapy Minors Offer Opportunities for Undergraduates

"The Art Therapy minors allow students to begin the journey through the field and to really get their hands into it and feel it." Art therapist & Plattsburgh alumna, Dove Phillips ('99) Art Therapist Dove Phillips in front of one of her paintings. Plattsburgh alumna, Dove Phillips ('99) is an art therapist and works in a child and family clinic."I am very pleased with SUNY Plattsburgh's new Art Therapy program. These minors show Plattsburgh's commitment to helping students pursue their passions. I especially like the practicum component that allows students to see art in action as a healing source from within the person doing the art."Dove was one of several art and psychology students who did research into art therapy programs with Professor of Psychology Jeanne Ryan and Professor of Art Rick Mikkelson. That research led to development of Plattsburgh State's Art Therapy Minors.The Art Therapy minors have huge benefits for undergraduates. They allow students to 'try it out,' and to study art therapy in practice and in theory. The practicum is a real plus for graduate school and for future careers."

Discovering a Career in Art Therapy

"I first thought about art therapy when I was at another college and saw a poster about art therapy - but I could not study psychology there. I transferred to Plattsburgh State because it offered me opportunities such as the psychology minor.Psychology Professor Lary Shaffer directed me to an alumnus of the psychology program who had become an art therapist. I later researched art therapy under the guidance of Psychology Professor Jeanne Ryan, and received assistance from art teachers like Professor Russom."A recent ceramics sculpture by Dove Phillips The Plattsburgh State art program gave Dove experience in a variety of media and she applies them in therapy and in her own work.Dove says: "Any medium could be used in therapy - I recently used photography with a client. At Plattsburgh I had taken an excellent photography course with Professor Sue Lezon. Ceramics was my first love, and I studied with Professor Berry Matthews. I also studied areas such as sculpture, drawing and painting.""Plattsburgh also gave me the ability to work independently, and prepared me for all the writing in graduate school. The art major Senior Art Exhibition was really helpful. It prepared me for presenting my work in a professional way. When I had to present my work at the end of my graduate study I was already prepared."

Art and the Power to Heal

"I continue to make my own painting and ceramic sculpture. My immediate goal is to develop a kiln for firing my sculpture.  I was Berry's tutorial assistant, which gave me much experience with preparing clay and firing the kiln." Dove notes that she is glad she had the opportunity to develop as an artist before becoming fully immersed in an art therapy program."Showing a person that they have the power to heal themselves just by doing what they already know how to do [doing art] is extremely empowering to clients. Teaching a client new techniques allows them to express themselves at a new level. The most satisfying part of being an art therapist is when you get to see the 'ah ha!' moment as the client further understands themselves through a medium that they never thought possible."

Staying in Contact

"I've stayed in touch with students and faculty from my days at Plattsburgh State. My friends were from many different majors - we used to hang out in the College Center Blueroom. I also am in contact with Professors Ryan and Mikkelson. I recently spoke with Professor of Art Diane Fine." Dove also noted that she is in regular contact with Britt McDowell who teaches the art therapy courses at Plattsburgh State."

Contact Information

If you would like to learn more about the Art Therapy program at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact:Rick Mikkelson, Professor of Art
Office: Myers Fine Arts 209
Phone: 518-564-2464
E-mail: [email protected]Jeanne Ryan, Professor of Psychology
Office: Beaumont Hall 0213b
Phone: 518-564-3387
E-mail: [email protected]

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