Anna Maria College is the only college in Central Massachusetts that offers Art Therapy. Our Art Therapy program empowers students to take their creative talent and go out into the world and help others.
Now more than ever, populations of individuals are suffering from daily stress or more serious mental health issues and Anna Maria is here to make sure that therapeutic arts are one way that these individuals can express themselves, form connections, and build their self-esteem. This is best exemplified by Anna Maria College’s partnership with South High in Worcester.
As part of their Foundations course, Anna Maria Art Therapy students are given the opportunity to work hands-on with Transition Students from South High. Students from the Transition Department have intellectual disabilities or complex needs. The goal of the Transition Department is to support them as they age out of high school and move into adult resources and programs.
Created in 2018 with help from AMC faculty member Kim King Cormier who also works at South High in the Special Education program, the partnership offers learning opportunities for both Anna Maria and South High. For six weeks, South High Transition students are transported to Miriam Hall on campus and meet with Anna Maria art therapy students in the Foundations course. Each week the art therapy students lead groups and demonstrate art techniques. Not only do the South High students get the opportunity to express themselves and communicate through art, but they also learn vocational art skills which enable them to make items that they can sell such as coasters, postcards, and other creative yet functional items.
Each school benefits from the partnership. The South High Transition students are able to experience a college learning atmosphere, which is often the first time they have been on a college campus. They are also empowered to express themselves and even learn skills through vocational art which could help them financially. Meanwhile, Anna Maria art therapy students are able to see the impact that art therapy has first-hand. Rather than just learning from a book, the 6-week partnership gives Anna Maria students the ability to make a difference and connect with a population that needs more compassion and is often overlooked.
Hands-on experience is one of the hallmark features of Anna Maria’s Art Therapy program, according to Special Lecturer in Art Therapy, Julie Hurley. During their time at Anna Maria College, students will work with a wide variety of populations from schools and hospital settings to nursing homes, and community nonprofits. This experiential learning allows Anna Maria students to find the career path which calls to them the most.
“Our art therapy students are competitive in the job market because they have a strong clinical background combined with actual hands-on experience in different environments,” Hurley explained, “Partnerships like our South High program show our students the positive impact that creativity and compassion can have in the community.”
Learn more about Anna Maria’s Art Therapy degree at: https://annamaria.edu/academics/undergraduate-studies/art-therapy/