Art therapy is a field of psychology that relies on art and creativity to explore trauma and seek healing for a wide range of individuals. West Liberty University recognized the importance of this growing profession and has successfully created a program that is attracting attention, the Bachelor of Science in Creative Arts Therapy degree. It is now approved by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

From left creative art therapy students, Megan Adams, Azia Goolie and Megan Velan, meet with Professor Brian Fencl in the art department.

From left, creative arts therapy students, Azia Goolie, Megan Adams and Megan Velas, meet with Professor Brian Fencl in the art department.

“West Liberty University is the only institution of higher education in the state to offer the undergraduate degree in creative arts therapy. I thank the faculty and administrators who worked very hard to make this signature program a reality,” said President Robin C. Capehart.

The Dean of the College of Arts and Communication Dr. William Baronak guided the academic plan through the WVHEPC approval stage.

“We anticipate great interest in the program and have had many student inquiries into this major,” Baronak said.

The new program wouldn’t have come to fruition without the support of the Schenk Foundation, which provided the grant that fueled the new degree.

“The Schenk Foundation, along with an academic planning team worked together to make the degree a reality and we are grateful for their support of higher education and West Liberty University,” said Angela Zambito-Hill, who is director of development at WLU.

Art Professor Brian Fencl also was involved from the early stages of the new degree development. He provided curriculum guidance and recruited for the new major.

“We are excited to reach full degree status and look forward to enrolling more students interested in this field,” Fencl said. “Our first class is just beginning and the students are very happy.”

Besides providing another valuable educational program for students, the creative arts therapy major will benefit the community through student projects and internships, as well as the preparation of future employees in the mental health industry, according to Fencl.

Educational Objectives

For several years the College of Arts and Communication has recognized an increasing interest in the art therapy field from incoming freshmen. The Bachelor of Science in Creative Arts Therapy provides a course of study and a way to explore and practice a wide range of solution-focused therapies with opportunities to build professional portfolios. The educational objective of the new program is to provide a curriculum leading to a Bachelor of Science degree for students interested in careers in this or related fields, as well as further study at the graduate level.

This degree broadens the scope of the Division of Art at West Liberty University giving students the option to choose a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design, a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education, a Bachelor of Science in Digital Media Design or the brand-new Creative Art Therapy degree.

Art Therapists work with a variety of populations including at-risk children, adolescents, adults, and seniors; people with addictions, emotional, developmental, mental and physical health challenges. Children with autism and autism-spectrum disorder have unique learning and social needs that can find expression through art.

Graduates of the new degree program at WLU will be fully prepared to enter a master’s program of their choice and become fully licensed by the American Art Therapy Association.

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