By Alec Codman – Collegiate Staff
Andrea Baier-Petiet has had clients come in with anxiety, depression, mental illness, physical illnesses, cancer, and fertility problems. They all were able to get their feelings out on paper and show positive results using art therapy and expressive arts techniques.
Frank Conner, head of the Psychology department is in charge of the speaker series. This was the third installment of the series this semester which was titled: “Art Therapy and the Expressive Arts: Knowing Yourself Through Your Creative Side.” The lecture took place Feb. 17, in the auditorium of the Applied Technology Center.
Petiet began by diving into the differences between art therapy and the expressive arts. Art therapy uses art media, “anything that you could use to create visual arts,” said Petiet. This means things like sculpting, drawing, painting, pastels, and collages. She followed by explaining the expressive arts use music, writing, poetry, drama and a brief history of art therapy and expressive arts.
Petiet gave everyone some paper and crayons for the two exercises the audience was able to participate in. The first exercise was meant to make everyone comfortable with the speaker and the subject matter. Petiet had everyone hum to the tune of happy birthday while drawing scribbles with their eyes closed.
Before starting the second exercise she showed of some of her client’s artwork, and explained their situations. Varying in gender, age, economic status, and they all showed positive results in their art therapy sessions.
Most of the students were confused when they were asked to draw something they were thinking about while listening to Beethoven for a few minutes for the second exercise. During the discussion afterwards, a couple students said they weren’t used to being told to perform a task with such little guidelines, when in college there seems to be a right and particular way to do everything.
During the Q&A at the end of the presentation the audience found out that art therapy is used in other places in the world. Petiet explained how art therapists “went into war torn countries and worked with the children, these kids can’t speak English but they put their experience’s on paper and draw them, and it was very relieving for them.”