Art Making and the iPad – NorCATA Event Dec 7, 2014

It’s true! I’ve been asked back for a follow-up to the NorCATA presentation and iPad demo at the Union Square Apple store back in Jan 2012.

It’s also true that I haven’t been practicing art therapy for several years. So, my goal is not review the state of art therapy and technology, but rather to draw upon my experience teaching teachers how to integrate technology into the classroom. I’ll review how to research art making apps, how to assess their usefulness in a therapeutic context, learn some basic skills in Keynote, Book Creator, and Paper 53, and help attendees envision how to use art making apps within their therapeutic practices.

Hope to see you there!

Infographic: The Cost of Education

This is an advertisement for an online college…but I thought it was interesting. Again, the least likely people to find a job are those who studied Clinical Psychology.

I’d like to discuss a few points brought up in this info graphic. Firstly, I suspect that there are more bartenders and waitresses than engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians because we’re not graduating enough people in those fields – not because there’s a lack of jobs for technically skilled people.

And then the last line – “It’s a tough world out there.You might as well stay at home” – Yeah…it’s a tough world alright. So, choose your career path wisely, gain marketable skills either through school (and not necessarily an online school…) or work and stay out of debt. You’ll be way ahead of most and I even bet you’d be able move out of your parents home.

The Changing Nature of Work in the US – Death of the Blue Model

I mentioned the blue model in one of my previous posts, and how we should all be trying to steer clear from these types of jobs because the nature of work is changing. But, I didn’t explain what the blue model is and why I believe we’re not just in a recession – we’re witnessing massive changes to the American (and global) workforce – the type of upheaval that only our grandparents and great-grandparents witnessed.

First, I want to explain what the blue model is and second, I hope to demonstrate why I believe art therapy is caught within its framework. To be clear, I’m not saying that art therapy is a dead-end career that won’t be supported in a post-blue model economy. Rather, I believe art therapy could be a viable career option in 10 or 20 years from now if we recognize the changes in our economy now and if we analyze how the current model of licensing, civil service and academia is changing. Just as no one could have predicted the internet at the beginning of the industrial revolution, I believe we cannot predict exactly how we’ll come out the other side. But, burying our heads in the sand will cause more disruption and hardship on art therapists and aspiring art therapists than opening our eyes to the reality of what’s happening.

And, I’m not claiming to be an economist or a historian as I write about this issue. I’m merely a person in her early 30s who is reflecting on her current career situation and why the promises fed to her all her life (work hard, get educated and you’ll do fine) are just not panning out…at least not in the way that my family, teachers and mentors always described.

What is the blue model?
The blue model is the post-great depression work structure in the US that most North Americans picture in our minds eye when we conjure up what a stable economy consists of.

My main go-to post-blue model thinker, Walter Russell Mead, explains:

…most blue-collar and white-collar workers held stable, lifetime jobs with defined benefit pensions, and a career civil service administered a growing state as living standards for all social classes steadily rose. Gaps between the classes remained fairly consistent in an industrial economy characterized by strong unions in stable, [and] government-brokered arrangements with large corporations…High school graduates were pretty much guaranteed lifetime employment in a job that provided a comfortable lower middle-class lifestyle; college graduates could expect a better paid and equally secure future. An increasing “social dividend”, meanwhile, accrued in various forms: longer vacations, more and cheaper state-supported education, earlier retirement, shorter work weeks, more social and literal mobility, and more diverse forms of affordable entertainment. Call all this, taken together, the blue model.

Is the Blue Model really crumbling?

Many people, much smarter than me, say so. But judge for yourself – is it a guarantee that young people will achieve more financial stability than their parents? No. Not at all! Blue collar and government jobs just aren’t around like they used to be. Even if you snag one, many don’t have job security. And if you do because you’re unionized, that won’t be lasting for very much longer. The cost of paying the benefits of unionized workers is getting so burdensome that pretty much no matter where you live in the US, you’ve heard about layoffs and pension cut backs to these types of workers.

But, what if you’re educated? Then you’ll do better than your parents, right? Not necessarily. It depends on the sector you work in and what you’re educated in. Not surprisingly, according to this study of median incomes posted by the Chronicle (hat tip), science and technology related jobs fare the best, while psychology and education jobs fare the worst.

So, are you telling me that I could be paying 40-80K for a BA and then another 40-80K for an MA, only to discover that I could be earning as little as $29K-$55K a year? Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. In many areas of the country that’s barely enough to rent an apartment and have a car, never mind affording to buy a home. Is that doing better than your parents? In most cases, no.

Now, let’s talk a little more about job security. Do you know anyone under the age of 50 who’s only held one job their whole lives? How about someone who’s been at the same company for over 10 years? I know I don’t. In fact, in many areas it’s looked down upon to stay with the same company for too long. It means you’re not growing and risk being “typecast” in your career.

Don’t even get me started on the cost of education, early retirement and other promises of the Blue Model.

But as Walter Russel Mead points out, we’re actually past the collapse of blue industry, as evidenced by the changes that have already taken place and described above. It’s the government (and quasi-government) jobs that are currently being shaken up. At this point, I believe art therapy is a quasi-government job that is at 5-alarm risk of going down with the ship.

Why do I consider art therapy at risk?

  • Many art therapy jobs rely on government funding. If government jobs are going down, so are the jobs that rely on government money.
  • Art therapy usually adjunct. If government funding is drastically reduced, anything seen as non-essential will be removed from the services offered by (mental health) institutions.
  • Art therapists are resistant to integrating new technology into their practice.
  • Art therapy schools are not listening to students or clients to define their curriculum. For example, students are not taught how to integrate digital art making into their practices or how to ethically navigate online therapy and social media as therapists. We all know that public school education for our kids is inefficient and has difficulty keeping up with the times. But, there is no excuse for programs that charge upward of 60K to learn what I consider the old way of practicing art therapy. To stay modern, art therapists must know how to meet their clients where they’re at – meaning that if clients are better able to connect and reach their therapeutic goals while using a tablet or a computer, then art therapists should feel comfortable in that space. Just as they should feel comfortable introducing clay into a session when it’s warranted, even if the art therapist isn’t an expert on sculpture making.
  • Tuition to become an art therapist is outrageous in comparison to median earning potential. We will lose great minds and talent in the field simply due to this fact.
  • Licensing is complicated and oftentimes does not serve the purpose of protecting the client. Instead, it’s used to shut out otherwise qualified professionals and prevent (art) therapists from being mobile. I believe this has a lot to do with the crumbling blue model system – people are trying to stake claim to space on board the Titanic. Again, frustration with these issues will cause people to switch careers to professions that care if you’re competent and qualified, not whether or not you can jump through hoops.

Is there reason to be hopeful?

I believe there are many reasons to be hopeful, and I plan to outline them in my next post. But, allow me to leave you with this inspiring video – there is much to look forward to!

Announcement from Find Art Directives Users Group

Via LinkedIn’s Find Art Directives Users Group:

Greetings members. I have run a new set of statistics on the web database:

746 ————-> Number of users.
714 (96%) –> Number of users with AT training.
75 ————-> Number of Public Directives (directives that you
have created and shared with others)
15 (2%) ——> Number of users contributing Public Directives.

Sadly,a mere 2% — 15 out of 746 people have contributed directives to the database. I am truly disappointed in this! The database has been up for almost 2 years, and so many people are obviously interested in it, considering how many have signed up. But it appears that everyone is just looking and not contributing.

The database CANNOT grow by itself! I maintain this database for free on my own time. I approve users and review directives and add directives. I maintain this group as well. I have personally added 32 directives. That is nearly half the total directives!

Bottom line: IF there is not a significant increase in contributions to the directives in the database, I will shut down the site and this discussion group.

IF USERS (that means you!) DO NOT ADD AT LEAST 100 NEW DIRECTIVES TO BY AUGUST 2012, I will close the site.

I consider it impractical to supply a resource that is not being used!

Posted By Carol McCullough-Dieter

Have you been on the Find Art Directives website? It’s pretty much unusable. Is that why only 2% of 746 people have added to the list? My guess is yes. If the goal of your website is to encourage people to add information or look up information, but it’s hard to do so, then you can’t expect people to interact with your website in the way you want them to. This is not the pre-CSS, UI/UX internet. Even if you’re an excellent programmer, you cannot code your website without paying attention to it’s design and the way people interact with your product.

To the tech-savvy art therapy community – please! Let’s up our game, even if it’s a volunteer project…think of it as building out your portfolio/resume. If you’re willing to put in X amount of time into building something useful for our community, spend the extra hours working on the user experience. It’s a shame to have to close down a webpage simply because this feature was overlooked.

Upcoming Seminar

Join me at NorCATA’s annual business meeting at Fort Mason on January 29th! It’s going to be a great talk about new technology and the online presence. Don’t miss it! Register here.

Staying on the Forefront: Art Therapy, the Online Presence and New Technology

    The online presence: an exploration of social media, privacy and professionalism.

  • What is an online presence and why you already have one.
  • LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Yelp—are they for art therapists too?
  • Guidelines on the safest ways to present your professional self online, including a discussion of online privacy.
  • New technology and what it means for the art therapy field:

  • What’s old and new in the digital art therapy world?
  • Why new technology isn’t a perfect substitute for traditional media…yet.
  • Why even your grandmother could learn how to use the newest technology.
  • How digital art therapy is important for our field.

Thinking of Getting a Master’s Degree? Think Again.

An article by Walter Russell Mead talking about what those us working art therapists already know. Here are some highlights, but this article is definitely worth an in-depth read.

“Young people graduating from master’s programs with low-paying jobs and crippling debt…

‘About one-third of people with master’s degrees make less money on average than a typical bachelor’s degree holder’.

Masters programs hit the sour spot of higher education — they tend to be more expensive with fewer financial aid opportunities than other programs, with a smaller payoff.

The jobs of the future will be more based on innovation and less on bureaucracy, and expensive degree programs will do little to help people navigate them.

In light of the recent classification of Art Therapy under “Recreation Therapy” by the Dept. of Labor, and the fact that one needs to hold a BA in order to become a recreation therapist, and my own personal experiences, Russell Mead’s words resonate with me more than ever. This plus the guild mentality that is so present in the mental health profession leads me to recommend that all those seeking a degree in Art Therapy to think twice. There are many ways to help others, and unless you are prepared to diversify your skill set beyond your MA and innovate, you may end up like so many art therapy graduates—working as baristas, secretaries, artists and sales people with a few hours a week here or there for actual art therapy.

Upcoming Seminar

Staying on the forefront: Art Therapy, the Online Presence and New Technology

Save the date! I’ll be giving a 2 1/2 hour workshop for NorCATA on Sunday January 29th at Fort Mason! Once the sign up information is available, I’ll be posting it here.

Hope to see you there!

Expressive Therapies Summit

From Judy Rubin via LinkedIn:

Dear Friends. Family & Colleagues,

I’m writing to you to let you know about an event in NY that I think is worth your while if you are in or want to visit the area. It’s a 4-day Expressive Therapies Summit with over a hundred presentations, workshops, and courses, on all of the creative arts therapies and related areas.

In addition, this year there is a special all day Symposium on Liberating Creativity through Analysis & the Arts which will end with a special Film Premiere – a $10 ticket buys you a film,. a panel of the artists in it, and a lovely reception.

If you can’t make it or even if you can, please let friends and colleagues know about it. The proceeds from this event will allow our very nonprofit nonprofit, Expressive Media, to continue to make teaching films about the arts in healing.

I hope to see you there!



Art Therapy Internship

This question was emailed to me, and posted with the permission of the author, Miles. I hope this helps any student art therapists who want to gain experience practicing in venues that may not have an art therapist on staff.

Hi Liz,
I am looking for info on art therapists who work in the juvenile detention centers. I need to do practicum hours for MAAT. Can you help?

Hi Miles,

Off the top of my head, you have a few options. First, you can post a request for an art therapy supervisor who works in a juvenile detention center on the Art Therapy Alliance’s message board on LinkedIn. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s a very active board with many people from around the globe. Hopefully someone can help you out.

Secondly, I’m wondering why you need to work with an art therapist directly in that setting? In my program we were encouraged to go to facilities that didn’t offer art therapy and offer to design a program from scratch (for free, since your labor is free…the only thing they would need to pay for is art supplies). In this case, students would recieve supervision from an off site art therapist, as well as a licensed therapist on site. Which means that you’d have to find a facility that has a therapist willing to supervise you, as well as find an off site art therapist, which = lots of supervision. But in that setting, it’s probably very useful to have lots of supervision. Have you talked to your program director about this possibility?

The other thing that’s great about starting your own art therapy program in grad school is that if you prove yourself to be an asset to the team, you may be offered a permanent position after you finish your internship.

I hope this helps!

Warm Regards,
– Liz