North Texas Daily

Counseling and Testing Services resumes in-person art therapy

Counseling and Testing Services resumes in-person art therapy

Counseling and Testing Services resumes in-person art therapy
June 24
12:00 2022

The university’s Counseling and Testing Services (CTS) is hosting in-person art therapy workshops for students every Tuesday through Aug. 23 after being online for almost four consecutive semesters.

The sessions are designed for individuals who have trouble putting their feelings into words. Students are provided with a quiet, safe environment and given materials to express their emotions through art. Art therapy workshops are free for all enrolled students and are located in Chestnut Hall’s art studio.

Myriam Reynolds, a licensed professional counselor and art therapist, runs the weekly sessions. She says drawing is a “bit less threatening than [talking].”

“It is easier for the person,” Reynolds said. “We need ways to talk about things. If we think about the songs that we listen to when we’re going through stuff [a majority of them are] very metaphorical. It’s easier for us to talk about it that way a lot of times.”

Reynolds received her bachelor’s degree from the university and started working in a residential treatment center in Denton 30 years ago. At the residential center, Reynolds worked with children who experienced severe trauma and abuse. Reynolds said she struggled to engage with the children until she introduced them to art therapy.

“I pulled out art supplies for them and we did this beautiful […] underwater scene,” Reynolds said. “They were focused and in a good mood. I knew […] art was healing [for me] because I could process my own trauma […] but when I saw the effect it had on other traumatized people, I was like ‘Oh okay, so it’s not just me. This actually works for people.’”

A stack of art therapy books sits on a shelf on June 19, 2022. Photo by Daniel Pope

CTS hosted its first in-person art therapy session since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic on May 31. Students were given an inspirational quote and asked to illustrate its background.

“The background of my quote had little balloons and so I […]  made the balloons bigger and had strings come down,” art education junior Sheridan Lemon said. “I created little different animals that were holding the balloons and stuff.”

Lemon said art helped her work through her emotions and resonated with her in an “artistic way rather than just words.”

Participating in art exercises can trigger chemicals that bring happiness to the brain such as serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin, according to Houston Methodist Leading Medicine.

“We did self-care, and we did a task, so that’s dopamine,” Reynolds said. “We also activated oxytocin because we complimented each other’s work, and I think we laughed a little bit [which activates endorphins].”

Enedelia Sauceda, a licensed psychologist and LGBTQ+ liaison, attended the June 21 session and expressed how helpful the workshop was.

“I’m [someone] who deals with anxiety – your mind and anxiety is going a hundred miles an hour all over the place,” Sauceda said. “When you slow down and listen to music and focus on the art – the cutting or drawing, whatever it is – you’re doing something with your hands [and it’s] very grounding. It forces you to slow down.”

If you or someone is facing a mental health crisis, the university provides various mental health resources through the Student Health and Wellness Center, CTS, the UNT Care Team and psychiatric services. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7), 800-273-8255. Crisis Text Line (24/7), text “HELLO” to 74174. If it is an emergency, please call 911.

Featured Image: A cup of art supplies sits inside the art therapy room on June 17, 2022. Photo by Daniel Pope

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Alexia Lopez

Alexia Lopez

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