The FSU Department of Art Education’s Art Therapy Program, in coordination with FSU’s Art Therapy Association (FSU-ATA), hosted its annual spring workshop on February 25, 2017. This year’s guest lecturer was Juliet L. King, Assistant Professor and Director of the graduate Art Therapy Program at Herron School of Art and Design and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at the IU School of Medicine. Professor King presented on two topics: Neuroscience and Neuroanatomy: What Art Therapists Need to Know and The Magic Synthesis: Integrating Art Therapy and Neuroscience – Theoretical, Practical, and Proven. The workshop aimed to increase attendees’ understanding of art therapy and neuroscience as well as introduce and provide resources to support their understanding of the art therapy field.
The workshop ran from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The morning included registration, a free continental breakfast, and a three-hour lecture by Professor King. After a complementary lunch was provided, the workshop concluded with a three hour hands-on art activity. The event was free, and people from all disciplines and from the community were welcomed to attend.
During the lecture portion of the workshop, which included visual aids and examples, Professor King discussed about multiple interconnected topics that resulted in an extensive discussion about art therapy and neuroscience. Beginning a description of the language of the unconscious, with an emphasis on artwork, the lecture included a thorough examination of the Corpus Callosum and the historical shift from observation and deduction to experimentation and measurement through the development of the scientific era. The presentation then focused on creativity, imagination, symbolism, and the interconnection between these concepts/phenomena, followed by a description the differing approaches to the mind and their explanatory structures.
After mentioning and explaining the basic tenets of art therapy, Professor King then thoroughly discussed about art therapy and neuroscience, including its description as an integrative approach as well as an explanation of the mind-body dualism, sublimation and “flow,” imagery, the Expressive Therapies Continuum (ETC), “Relationships-empathy-MNS,” trauma, neuroaesthetics , new technology and tools, and related research. Furthermore, the lecture included a detailed description of neuroscience, including neuron anatomy and processes, neurotransmitters, neuroplasticity, the components of the Nervous System, brain development, areas of focus within the field, structural and functional neuroanatomy, among others. In addition to discussing about memory, Professor King also described the ETC and its connections with brain structures and functions as well as creativity as processing information and conductive to the state of “flow.” The lecture came to a conclusion with a review of the information presented as well as a brief discussion of its connection to traumatic memory.
Intended to assist in learning brain structure and function, the interactive art experience began by Professor King asking participants to engage in a warm-up exercise to reflect on all the information they had acquired and learned from the lecture. During this initial portion of the art activity, everyone was welcomed to use any or all the materials that were provided. The group was subsequently instructed to mention some words or phrases about neuroscience, Professor King writing all of these on the classroom whiteboard.
After being asked to point out words that focused on and/or were related to the anatomy of the brain, attendees worked either individually or in groups to create a representation of such words identified. For instance, a small group of participants attempted to produce a replica of the brain, including the different components of the brain in their final collaborative art piece. Subsequently, Professor King asked everyone to place their piece in the center of the classroom and contemplate on the artwork created and displayed. After one participant discussed about a specific client and provided an artwork example, the group analyzed the art piece utilizing the ETC model. The workshop concluded by the attendees reflecting on the warm-up art pieces from the beginning portion of the art experience and Professor King thanking all those who attended.
Through the 2017 Spring Art Therapy Workshop, Professor Juliet L. King performed an outstanding performance in sharing her expertise, attendees receiving a fascinating, informative, and worthwhile experience. The enthusiasm and positive spirit of the participants and the art therapy program students, faculty, and alumni also resulted in a both productive and enjoyable workshop.
Franchesca Lastra Vicente, president of the FSU-ATA and main coordinator of the workshop, expressed the following:
I would like to thank Juliet King for taking her time to present on Art Therapy & Neuroscience. It has been a subject that has been rarely discussed in my program and in the field, and I definitely see the benefits of learning these concepts to better understand the clients that I work with. Her explanation and understanding of neuroscience made the lecture interactive and enjoyable!
The FSU Department of Art Education wishes to cordially thank Professor King for leading the 2017 Spring Art Therapy Workshop and providing insight into the integration of creativity, art therapy, and neuroscience. Furthermore, the Department thanks all those who attended the event and encourages them, as well as the rest of the community, to attend next year’s annual art therapy workshop.