Art therapy supports mental wellness

The Seton Hill University (SHU) art therapy program held an interactive presentation on April 3 as a part of Wellness Week, sponsored by the SHU Wellness Center. Participants were encouraged to make sand drawings in a sand garden and color pictures.

 “It speaks to resiliency,” said junior art therapy major Jessica Higo. “With the sand drawings, no matter what you draw it’s going to go away. With the colorings, no matter what you draw it’s going to stay, you can’t worry about making a wrong line.”

 “Art therapy is about allowing yourself to express thoughts, feelings, and what’s going on in your life without using words,” said senior art therapy major Brittan Devall. “If you have a traumatic event that you don’t know how to express, you can get it out and down on paper, and that’s always helpful.”

 Faculty and students were welcomed to take a break from the stress of school and engage in these therapeutic exercises.

 “It gives you a chance to bring out your inner child, to take some time off from school and draw with crayons. You don’t have to worry about your drawings looking a certain way,” said Harlee Pellegrino, art therapy major.

 “It’s more about the process, not about the final product,” said Higo. “It doesn’t matter what you’re making, as long as it matters to you.”

 The presentation stressed how wellness is more than just the state of one’s physical body. Mental health is just as important.

 The art therapy program also had an information and activity table where students and faculty could draw mandalas, as part of the April 2 Wellness Week activities where different health groups held presentations. The word “mandala” comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “circle,” and it represents wholeness.

 “Mandalas allow you to get into a flow and focus on what you’re doing,” said Devall.

 Other Wellness Week events included therapy dogs being present on campus throughout the week, a super salad bar on April 1, health presentations on April 2 and the Heart Walk on April 5.


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