I assume that many new MA in Psychology & Counseling students at Goddard can relate to the discomfort I experienced at first residency at being initiated into the process of, well, learning how to trust the process. To be perfectly authentic, I showed up on day one looking for much more explicit direction, and much less freedom to choose. Hey, what can I say, I was a friggin’ G1 newbie! Don’t judge.
Anyway, this discomfort became slightly more skyrocketed during my very first meeting with my advisor, Dr. Wendy Phillips, when she suggested that perhaps I could integrate a creative art product into one of my course contracts. My surface response was (people-pleaser that I am) to brightly agree that this was a terrific idea. But my inner tweet was somewhat more doubtful; it was more along the lines of, How am I ever going to learn the fundamentals of counseling by spending my academic time doing something artistic?
In some ways I can see my hesitation as a sign of a much broader, long-term debate within the field of psychology. Although we have seen a significant shift over the last 20 years, traditionally, the discipline has struggled to validate qualitative, descriptive work to the same level of prestige and legitimacy as more quantitative forms of data.
When I first arrived at Goddard, I was fearful that demonstrating my knowledge through creative expression would, in some way, not be enough (see trust the process reference above). Creating photographic collages turned out to be a very valuable contribution to my learning for a course on human spiritual development. By visually piecing together how I understood some of the complex theories of C.G. Jung, my familiarity with his work was deepened and solidified.
The art show reception at residency was a great experience connecting with others who were interested in Jung, and exchanging thoughts and ideas in relation to his work. I highly advise any new and/or returning students who are unsure about using creative expression in a course product to try it…Getting outside our comfort zones is great practice for working with people who are seeking change in their life.
One of the top-secret benefits of getting an education is that you learn things you never even signed up for! If you’re really lucky, you learn things you specifically signed up NOT to learn! Who knew that using creative expression to demonstrate and express the theory and practice of psychology would be an essential portion to my education in the fundamentals of counseling?
About the author:
Lynne Esther Vanderpot (MA PSY '11) is alive and well and still enjoying the surprises of higher education at The University of Aberdeen in Scotland. She is pursuing her PhD in Practical Theology with a focus on spirituality and healthcare. Her dissertation will explore the long-term effects of antipsychotic medication on a person’s spiritual life.