College adds minor in creative arts therapy

solo rehearsal imageSUNY Oswego’s new minor in creative arts therapy is designed to allow graduates to tune into a greater range of career opportunities.

Those who earn the minor will be better positioned to enter this increasingly popular field or to apply for a graduate program in counseling or arts therapy, said Dr. Tom Darvill, the professor and chair of psychology who coordinates the new minor.

“A lot of our students have been taking these courses anyway,” he said. “Many psychology students already pursue minors in creative arts or have a double major. There’s a natural connection between psychology and art.”

The core requirements of the minor are two School of Education courses—CPS 393, “Introduction to Creative Arts Therapy,” and CPS 394, “Creative Arts Therapy: Theory in Process”—and six credits each of specific introductory classes in art, music and theatre. The last six credits of the 30-credit program come from electives in human development and psychology.

Art, music, psychology or theatre majors can apply approved courses they are taking for their major toward their minor work.

The creative arts therapy core courses, taught by Mardie Howe Rossi, have already been “wildly popular” with both psychology majors and students in arts programs, Darvill said.

The interaction of arts and therapy received additional recognition through last year’s Oswego Reading Initiative selection of “The Speed of Dark” for campuswide reading and related events. Some speakers and performances in the complementary Arts and Psychology series explored connections between cognition and creativity.

With the minor established, the chairs of the art, counseling and psychological services, music, psychology and theatre departments will comprise an advisory board for the program. In addition, Darvill credited Richard Zakin of the art department, for “getting everyone fired up” and bringing participants together, and Associate Provost Rhonda Mandel’s stewardship in the minor’s approval process.

Two students have already signed up for the newly approved minor and, because it hadn’t yet been publicized in the college catalogue or elsewhere, Darvill expects many more.

He said that New York state has begun to offer certification in creative arts therapy, acknowledging the increasing importance of the field, and that Oswego graduates with this minor have a start in that direction.

On the professional side, many industries actively seek people with a creative background, Darvill noted.

“What I tell students is: ‘With so many young people getting bachelor’s degrees, do anything you can to set yourself off from the herd,’” Darvill said. “I think having a creative background like this will get a company’s attention.”

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PHOTO CAPTION: Arts as therapy—The college’s recent interdisciplinary production of “No Such Thing as Solo”—an original performance piece about, and partially created by, survivors of domestic violence—is an example of the therapeutic nature of art. SUNY Oswego recently added a minor in creative arts therapy that brings together courses in art, music, psychology and theatre to help students enter this expanding field.

(Posted: Jun 13, 2006)