Second Lady Karen Pence brought 100 pounds of clay with her to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. Packed onto Air Force Two, the clay was meant for an art therapist that Pence had heard needed the artistic medium for children on the devastated island.
On Wednesday, Pence unveiled details of her Second Lady platform to promote art therapy treatment and education. She spoke about her initiative at Tallahassee's Florida State University, which has one of the oldest art- therapy programs in the country, and she also blogs about the initiative.
Her goal is to educate the public about art therapy as a “mental health profession, and not arts and crafts,” with benefits for many people. "It is three pronged, involving the art, the therapist, and the client," says Pence.
American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as "a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem."
Art therapy as a viable career will also be promoted, although only 11 states currently license for the profession.
A trained watercolorist, Pence explained that “from children with cancer, to struggling teens, to grieving families, to people with autism, to military service members experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, to those with eating disorders, art therapy is changing lives.”
“Unfortunately, art therapy is not well known, but I hope to change that,” she said.