LOUISVILLE, Ky. — This school year, former art teacher Carrie Neumayer isn’t at the front of the classroom.
“I really fell in love with the idea of using art as a therapeutic tool,” says Neumayer.
So she enrolled in the University of Louisville’s art therapy master’s program.
UofL’s program is the state’s only program that leads to national certifications and state licensure in art therapy
“I’ve always known that art was powerful, but it’s really amazing to come here and learn the science behind it,” says Neumayer.
The 60-credit-hour program mixes psychology and art classes with clinical practicum.
“The science allows us ways to understand why the art works and ways that we can connect our right brain and our left brain and come up with solutions and coping strategies and tools,” says Neumayer.
Neumayer is learning that with a blank canvas and few tools, a person can express things words can’t.
“I think at a time right now where there’s so much trauma and there’s so much grief, art therapy is a way to really learn how to rewire our brains and to heal in a way that doesn’t necessarily involve language and talking about trauma,” says Neumayer.
The art therapy program director tells me that the program is gaining more and earlier interest. In fact, high schoolers are inquiring about the program.
As Shawna Dellecave, a registered art therapist, explains, clients are growing too.
“More and more people are starting to understand the value of mental health and taking care of their mental health. They are seeking alternative ways than just talking about what is happening in their lives. They are looking for creativity and expression in multiple ways,” says Dellecave.
Dellecave says art therapy is effective for people of all ages and can help with things from relieving stress to building communication skills.
For Neumayer, it’s also a tool for empowerment.
“In the art world there’s a lot of emphasis on making products and while that can be really wonderful for a lot of people I think that taking the emphasis off making products and using art as a way to connect with ourselves and others is where the real magic is,” says Neumayer.
The department’s annual art therapy forum will be held on Oct. 15 from 9-10:30 a.m. via Zoom.
The forum will include presentations and question-and-answer sessions about the program.