Long Beach’s Guidance Center Showcases the Value of Art As Therapy

By Sara Ergen | The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by art therapists, 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. A goal in art therapy is to improve or restore a client’s functioning and his or her sense of personal well-being. Here at The Guidance Center, we understand these values and benefits of art therapy as they aid in the healing process for many of our own clients and their families.

Both drawn to art, Emily Brozyna and Madoka Urhausen, two art therapists from our Long Beach Clinic, have shed some light on this important form of therapy and how they are able to combine two passions of theirs—art and therapy.

Emily Brozyna, Marriage and Family Therapist Registered Intern

Emily has been creating art her whole life. She began creating art at a young age and soon began to realize this was her own form of therapy which played an important role in her personal healing process. From this, Emily knew she wanted to pursue a career as an artist. She attended Massachusetts College of Art & Design and obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Emily then accepted an internship in the psychiatric unit at Boston Children’s Hospital and upon completion moved to Los Angeles. She worked as a counselor in Dual Diagnosis Inpatient for teenagers until she began graduate school at Loyola Marymount University. During her time at LMU, her personal art began to shift from familial-based concepts to issues pertaining to the field of psychology. Eager to pursue a career as an art therapist, she accepted a position with The Guidance Center in August 2013, after completing her practicum with the Center in May 2013.

Her passion to help children continues to fuel her creativity personally and as that of an art therapist. Emily encourages her clients to think outside of the box by using diverse art materials such as charcoal and palm tree fronds and to really become engaged in the art making process. Her take on being an art therapist is dynamic in that it serves as a personal healing tool in the visual work while also healing the family during a session.

Emily participates in themed art shows outside of The Guidance Center and focuses on feministic work pertaining to the field of psychology, specifically the history of women’s struggles, and shows the change in the field from the past until now.

MadokaUrhausen222

Madoka Urhausen, LMFT, ATR-BC, Clinical Supervisor/School Based Coordinator

Madoka’s passion for art began at an early age where she used art as a means to express her own feelings, even keeping a personal art journal. She went on to attend California State University, Long Beach where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and has been part of the art world ever since. During this time, she was also interested in therapy and the social aspect that came along with it. Through this, Madoka decided to combine the healing properties of art with her passion for therapy and attended Loyola Marymount University to obtain her masters in art therapy. She chose to combine these passions because it was such a rewarding experience for both her and her clients, specifically children with trauma and those facing substance abuse. Madoka began working at The Guidance Center in 2011.

Her work as an artist inspires her work as a therapist in that she is able to reflect on client sessions which give her more insight into fulfilling her own work, and she continues to be inspired by her clients and their resiliency. Madoka describes art therapy best as a means for clients and families to express their message, while validating their expressions.

Madoka has been traveling to Fukushima since 2011 for disaster-support related assignments for a personal mission. This year she will lecture Japanese counseling students at Mejiro University about the applications of art therapy.

Just how Emily and Madoka are inspired by their clients, The Guidance Center continues to be inspired by both of these art therapists’ creativity and dedication to helping the many children and families at the Center heal with this unique form of therapy.

Sara Ergen is the Development Associate at the Guidance Center.

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