Photo courtesy of Sparkle Greenhaw
With the stress of school, work, social life and extracurricular activities, many students find themselves searching for ways to relieve the stress of daily life.
Art therapy is a way to detect emotions through forms of creativity. “Art therapy involves the use of creative techniques such as drawing, painting, collage, coloring or sculpting to help people express themselves artistically and examine the psychological and emotional undertones in their art,” according to Psychology Today
Art therapy helps people explore their emotions as well as “improve self-esteem, manage addictions, relieve stress, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression and cope with a physical illness or disability.”
One of Pepperdine’s own counselors, Sparkle Greenhaw, created a space for students to partake in art therapy and use art as a form of healing and expression.
“The Expressive Arts Group is open to all Pepperdine students,” Greenhaw wrote in an email. “This group meets weekly and provides an opportunity for students to express their thoughts and feelings through art.”
Each week, the group explores different topics together such as “family, love, grief, or peace; and [provides] a different medium (canvas, paint, watercolors, pencils, clay, collage, etc.) to express the weekly topic,” Greenhaw wrote. No prior art experience is needed.
Many students find traditional therapy daunting and anxiety-inducing. Art therapy is a great alternative for those who might be intimidated by traditional counseling.
“The repetitive motions of expressive arts can be therapeutic and relaxing,” Greenhaw wrote. “Students may feel more connected with others if they choose to share what they have created.”
This will be the third semester that the group has been offered, and an average of five students attend the group each week.
“The Expressive Arts Group is the only arts group currently offered in the Counseling Center, although other forms of art expression may be used in individual counseling,” Sparkles wrote. A successful group process includes “students engaging with the art medium in a meaningful way, using group time to relax and reflect, taking risks to share openly, and connecting with others in the group.”
Art therapy has become a more widespread source of therapy in recent years.
“This type of group is offered at some other Universities, and I thought Pepperdine students could benefit from this type of creative, therapeutic outlet,” Greenhaw wrote. “Some students attend once, and others attend ongoing. It has been a vibrant and insightful experience for many students.”
The group meets at 5 p.m., on Thursdays in the Counseling Center. Students can call to sign up or just show up any Thursday. It is open to any and all students; feel free to bring a friend.
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