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Art Therapist Shares Views on Healing

Bob SchoenholtzArt therapist Bob Schoenholtz visited Cedar Crest College on March 21 for a dinner and discussion about his dynamic field. First, he joined art therapy students for an informal dinner in which the students were able to ask him questions about his career.

During his public talk that followed titled, “Art Therapy and Imagery,” Schoenholtz—a board-certified art therapist and licensed practitioner—discussed his ideas about art therapy and provided a demonstration. He spoke about the interpretation of art, and the dangers that follow when trying to decipher another person’s art. He stated that the theory behind his practice is that “if there’s something missing, someone must come and bring that something that is missing.” This, he said, is the short summary of what defines an art therapist’s career.

He then spoke about how the making of art can feed the imagination, leading to discovery and creativity. He tied in his studies of psychology by explaining Carl Jung’s Four Functions of Consciousness—Sensation, Intuition, Thinking and Feeling—and that these parts need to be balanced. Jung’s ideas on self-discovery through art, as well as his work with mandalas is very popular within the realm of art therapy, and is a technique that is commonly used with clients.

Schoenholtz moved on to the demonstration part of his lecture, in which he focused on “safe place imagery.” In this type of imagery session, the client is to imagine a safe place that is peaceful and serene in atmosphere. Schoenholtz then had the audience draw the place they were imagining in whatever artistic medium they wanted.

“It was an interesting way of making art for me,” said junior art therapy major Nikki Sunday. “I feel like this particular approach on art making was more spiritual and personal. I think learning about this approach gave me a new perspective on art in general.”

Schoenholtz offered many more ideas on why art therapy is effective.

“The idea of therapy is to give them a skill they can use outside therapy without the therapist,” said Schoenholtz. “If the psyche is given the option to heal, it will move forward on its own. It’s also about the person establishing a relationship with art in their lives.”