Art therapy: UTSA offers a new kind of healing

(arts) therapy (courtesy of utsa counseling services)

Close your eyes. Imagine you’re on a beach. Feel the breeze and listen to the sound of the waves and seagulls. Open your eyes. Now draw. Colorful flyers promoting the Art Therapy Group have caught the attention of students. The group is designed for UTSA students seeking a way to express their emotions and feel better about themselves.

Rachel Lutz, staff clinician, initiated the group to help students share emotions that are difficult to release. The Art Therapy Group consists of twelve members, but students do not need art experience to register. Lutz will “phone screen” students by calling and asking questions about their experiences with substance abuse or anger, which may be inappropriate topics to bring up in the group.

Lutz will also ask applicants why they are interested in the group. She will then look through their responses to determine eligibility. A written application is not necessary to be part of the Art Therapy Group.

Students accepted into the group have one and a half hours each Tuesday evening for ten weeks to express themselves. A typical group session consists of Lutz providing a number of therapeutic themes to relieve depression, self-esteem or anger. Lutz also provides other options, since not every student has the same issue.

After allowing an hour for the students to complete their assignments, Lutz leaves 30 minutes for interpersonal processing to discuss how students felt during their time working on their artwork. If they do not feel comfortable showing their piece they can simply speak about the process of their work. Lutz has noticed positive changes in their interpersonal skills, behavior management, stress levels and self-esteem in those who have joined the art therapy sessions.

Lutz’s previous job required her to have a group session similar to UTSA’s, but it fo-cused more on trauma. She noticed the difference in her group members, which led to her decision in opening an Art Therapy for UTSA students.

Lutz was a studio art major as an undergraduate student when she realized how art can heal people.

Lutz mentions that most people do not have the right words to communicate their feelings. Students who have difficulty expressing themselves can find a challenge in the Art Therapy sessions. However, the Art Therapy Group can help with repressed emotions.

Art Therapy sessions are currently closed for new students. They usually open one month after school starts and run until it’s time to prepare for finals. Sessions are held on Tuesdays from 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. in RWC 1.806 Wellness Classroom. For more information, contact Rachel Lutz, LCSW, in Counseling Services at (210) 458-4140.