WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Oct. 28, 2020 — How do you feel about the pandemic and COVID-19? West Liberty University’s Creative Arts Therapy (CAT) Club offered the campus a chance to share their feelings about the pandemic this past Friday.
Students, staff and faculty were invited to enjoy an art activity or two on the quad, planned by the CAT Club. Activities included throwing paint balloons and writing out how you feel about the pandemic on a canvas.
“The CAT club wanted to help the WLU community find a way to express frustration with the pandemic in a healthy way. So, club members came up with the idea of fighting COVID-19 through art,” explained Dr. Susan Ridley, who is an assistant professor of Creative Arts Therapy and program director at WLU.
The weather cooperated and the quad was sunny and warm, perfect for enjoying creative fun in the sun. Participants could also buy a raffle ticket for various prize baskets. About 40 people participated.
“This was our first club activity and I suggested the idea as a way to express ourselves about COVID-19 and especially the resulting isolation that is a part of the pandemic. It’s a great way to get the frustration out,” said Manuela Hoffmann of Wheeling who is in her second year of the four-year degree program. She also is the vice president of the club.
“I’m very hands-on person, and the ability to do art through activity like this is therapeutic. It opens the doors for understanding and connects you to others.”
Other officers in the CAT Club include: Savannah Allen, president, Juliana (Juju) Haug, secretary and Lindsay Manor, treasurer. The students look forward to planning more art therapy activities in the near future.
“I love the Creative Arts Therapy program. It helps yourself and others,” Hoffmann said.
Art Therapy is a mental health profession that uses art media and the creative process to explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.
WLU’s creative arts therapy program is housed in the College of Arts and Communication and it first enrolled students in the fall of 2013.
WLU is the only public university in the state offering an undergraduate degree in art therapy and will soon add a master’s degree in art therapy and counseling to its offerings.
Its new master’s degree was recently approved by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) and is now being examined by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The HLC is expected to visit in February for an on-site look at the program.
Once approved by the HLC, the two- year master’s program is expected to enroll students in the fall of 2021. The Master of Arts in Creative Arts Therapy degree program will include 60-credit hours and provide the education needed for students to apply for credentials as an art therapist with the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), expressive arts therapy certification with the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA) and West Virginia licensed professional counselor (LPC) designation. Students will be required to complete post-graduate supervision hours and pass professional examinations.