Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Blue Room at the Cork Institute of Technology

While in Cork for the day today, our class was able to visit the Blue Room at the Cork Institute of Technology. Our group had three Art Therapy students including myself so we were really excited to visit the Institute’s Art Therapy department. In the United States, Art Therapy is still an up-and-coming field not too many people know about. This seemed to be the same situation in Ireland and with the country being much smaller than the U.S., we were surprised to find an Art Therapy degree being offered at the Institute.
            Jessica, a staff member in the department, spent a lot of time talking to us about the Art Therapy program while other staff members gave us insight about the international programs and other degrees the college has to offer. It was really exciting to hear about everything the Institute is doing to better the community and even the world. They are teaching their students about becoming “Global Citizens.” This term was described to us as someone who opens their mind to more than just what is going on in front of them. A Global Citizen cares about the issues going on around the world and wants to be a part of the world in a positive way.
            Talking about being a Global Citizen seemed to spark inspiration in all of us on the team. We had good discussions about ways we can bring our own skill sets and education backgrounds into something that will better not only our community, but the world. Also, it sparked a desire for us to learn more about what other people are doing in our field in other countries. I know for me specifically, I was really encouraged to hear how a student in the program is currently running an art studio for the homeless men and women in the city of Cork.
            Hearing Jessica talk about the Art Therapy program also had us thinking about the differences in education and Art Therapy in general between Ireland and the U.S. There were some differences we discovered between the structure of their Art Therapy sessions and the ones in the U.S.  In Cork, we also saw that they stress the importance of the therapist participating in his or her own art work in able to become more aware of the creative process. It was interesting to hear about their foundational perspectives and I am looking forward to incorporating some of what they teach in their program into my own way of doing Art Therapy.
            At the Cork Institute, the art department partners with a group of adult artists with mental health issues. These artists come and partner with the art students and create art together. It is a partnership and both groups experience a therapeutic element while making masterpieces together. The visiting artists were in the studio the day we visited and came to show us some of their work. After, we spent time with them creating group artwork. We covered a huge chalkboard canvas with designs we scribbled with chalk. The experience allowed us to become creative with one another, built relationships, and was a very therapeutic exercise.

            Personally, I loved visiting the Blue Room and walked away inspired from everything we heard about them doing in their community and with a national mindset. I know that I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed our visit there because the discussions we had after were deep and nothing but positive and encouraging. I am excited to see what all of us will be doing to become better Global Citizens. We came up with a lot of ideas of what that could look like in our own fields and I am looking forward to how they all come about!     

-Karli Raftery

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