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Art Therapy To Be Offered Next Semester

Art therapy is a useful practice designed to help people cope with stress, anxiety and other traumatic events. Starting next semester students can explore this career field with the “Art Therapy: Applications and Techniques” class.

art therapy

Pictured is an example of one of the types of art therapy piece students will make during the class.
Photo courtesy of Lorena Snodgrass

The intro-level class requires no previous art background from students and explores symbolism and dreams while having students work hands-on with materials like clay, paint, markers and natural materials. The class will be meeting  next semester on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. at the Bailey Art Studio.

Also offered as a major, the practice of art therapy is a form of psychotherapy most commonly used inside of prisons, hospitals and therapy sessions. Art therapists will urge patients to partake in a structured activity during a session and later analyze the project and the creative process for any signs of emotional distress.

Professor of the class, Merrilee Jorn, is a board certified Art Therapist with over seven years of experience. Jorn has provided mental health counseling to both families and individual patients after receiving her Master’s Degree in Art Therapy from Florida State University.

“In my own experiences with art therapy, I really focus on helping clients come to terms with stress, trauma, and behavioral issues,” Jorn said.

Cancer patients who participated in creative arts therapy derived significant clinical, psychological, and quality-of-life benefits, a meta-analysis of more than two dozen studies showed, according to

Jorn teaches a wide variety of students from all majors and teaches students based on her personal experience as an art therapist.

“I’ve worked in many hospital programs. I’ve even designed projects for patients with Sickle Cell and groups of patients with Autism. I like to bring those real-life examples into the classroom,” Jorn said.

Recent projects done by the class required students to make masks that represent their spirit animals, create boxes and write their fears on the inside of it, and keep track of dream journals that analyze the symbolism found in their dreams.

“This class is my first experience with art therapy. I find it interesting,” said previous student of the class, Ashli Hoser. “I’m not a very open person, I don’t do well with emotions. It’s neat to explore feelings through art rather than talking.”

Erika Gram, an art therapy major, has always been interested in art therapy.

“My high school teacher was an art therapist,” Gram said. “She told me about it and really made me want to go into the field. I want to get my Ph.D. and start my own practice working with children.”

Students like Gram in the art therapy program study a wide variety of topics on their way to becoming registered art therapists, such as adolescent art, general psychology, child psychology, statistics and experimental methods, theories of personality and much more. To learn more about the class for non-art majors as well as the art therapy major, check out their webpage on the UT website.

Nicole Pieklo can be reached at


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