The Department of Art Education would like to congratulate and recognize doctoral graduate Amanda Sanders! Amanda will be graduating on December 11, 2015. On October 29, 2015, Amanda successfully defended her dissertation titled Exploring the Art Therapist’s Perspective of Working With Victims of Disaster in front of committee members Dr. David Gussak, Dr. Steven Pfeiffer, Dr. Marcia Rosal, and Dr. Jeffery Broome. Her research involved a qualitative, clinical ethnographic and grounded theory study of four art therapists who gained experience working with victims of disasters. The research focused on the art therapists’ experience promoting healing for the disaster victims. Amanda used a series of semi-structured in-depth interviews and reviewed participant journals, notes, self-care and client artwork. These were in support of her claim that successful art therapists take on roles outside of their title in disaster response environments and use varying approaches to art therapy based upon the timing of their response.
In reflection, Amanda answered the following interview questions.
1. Who is your major professor and why did you choose that person?
“My major professor is Dr. David Gussak. To be honest, I didn’t choose Dave because of his impressive vita, expert knowledge, or great reputation, all of which he had. Frankly, all of the professors in the art education and art therapy department would have fit that criteria. I chose Dave because I felt like he was a good fit for me personally, and someone that I could trust to have my best interests at heart and keep me focused and motivated on this long and winding journey.”
2. Can you talk a little about your time here at FSU?
“I could talk A LOT about my time at FSU, but I’ll try and keep it brief. I started working on my undergraduate degree at Florida State January 2006. Since then I received my bachelor’s degree in psychology (2008), my master’s degree in mental health counseling (2010), educational specialist degree in mental health counseling (2010), and master’s degree in art therapy (2010). This should be it, as far as degree-collecting goes.
Some of my work experiences (while I was here) include internships at the Human Services Center, Capital City Youth Services, and the Forensic Unit at the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee. I was fortunate to be able to volunteer at an orphanage in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake for my art therapy master’s project and this was the inspiration for my dissertation. I also had the pleasure of being a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the master’s level art therapy spring 2011 Practicum I, fall 2011 Practicum II, and spring 2012 Practicum III classes.”
3. What are your plans for after graduation?
“Sleep? I set out on this journey intending to teach in higher education, but since we don’t live near a university with an art therapy program (my husband, two kids, and I live outside the perimeter of Atlanta, GA) that may have to wait a little while. I guess it would just depend on when and where. So… I’m open.
In the meantime, I hope to publish a few articles and maybe even a book. I also plan to start seeing clients again and work towards becoming a board certified registered art therapist (ATR-BC) and a licensed professional counselor (LPC).”