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Author: Abbey Cyester


 

Expressive Arts: Cyester ’24 at Antioch’s Counseling Services Center

Feb 25, 2022
 

I have been on co-op as the counseling department assistant in the Counseling Services Center at Antioch College for the Winter term of 2022. This is my first co-op experience at Antioch, and it has been a challenging yet rewarding journey. My Self-Designed Major is “Trauma Recovery Through Psychology and the Visual Arts.” My goal is to become an expressive arts therapist specializing in trauma and abuse. My particular educational purposes combine psychology, mental wellness, self-care, recovery, and visual arts. I chose this co-op based on my passion for helping others and the opportunity to introduce the power of emotion-based art to the students at Antioch. 

The Counseling Services Center plays an essential role in health and wellness at Antioch. All students currently enrolled at the college are eligible for free counseling services. Kelsey Hofer, the campus counselor, offers psychological counseling, psychoeducation, social support, crisis intervention, and provides students referrals to off-campus mental health resources. In addition, individual therapy, student support groups, and teacher/staff training relating to student mental health are offered at the Counseling Services Center. Counseling Services help students discover, create, recognize, and hone wellness coping skills and resources. Here, we value each individual’s process and work with students to reach their full potential. 

As the counseling department assistant, my role is to be present and engaged with students. I wear many hats in this position. My day-to-day responsibilities include research for the Antioch College Health and Wellness Resource Guide, research and updating mental health awareness days for the Counseling Services outgoing emails, preparing for and hosting my weekly Emotion Art Workshop meetings for students, planning and hosting events for the Counseling Services, planning and creating the upcoming “Book Nook” in the Counseling Services Center, and contributing in collaborations involving Antioch students, staff, and faculty. 

During this term, I have contributed to the wildly successful Self-Care Gift Bag Giveaway event in the Counseling Services Center, involving over 60 students receiving free bags of self-care items during the dreary winter days. I am also involved with the Counseling Services Valentine’s Day Candy Gram, the Counseling Services Positive Affirmation event during Community day, future Faculty Mental Health Training Videos, and the upcoming Period Product Drive on campus. 

My weekly Emotion Art Workshops incorporate art therapy theories into group work based on individual expression. Creativity can be essential for mental wellbeing, and I genuinely believe that the power of art has the potential to transform our lives. Expressive art can help individuals communicate more effectively and lessen feelings of isolation. Self-esteem, confidence, coping skills, grounding, and self-awareness have all been demonstrated to improve with expressive art. Art also has the potential to identify and understand our traumas by releasing our emotions onto a blank canvas. Our thoughts and emotions transformed into a visual image can help tell the stories of our traumas and bring us deeper towards our healing journey. My Emotion Art Workshops are provided to students for nine consecutive weeks. Each week, we focus on a specific medium and theme. During the Winter 2022 term, my weekly workshops highlight macrame, stress paintings, rock paintings, DIY shower melts, collage art, zentangles, and more. Students are welcome to share the meaning and emotions behind their creations in a safe, judgment-free, intimate group setting. However, verbalizing emotions are not required or expected of students participating. My workshops do not involve “therapy” of any kind, as I am not yet a licensed professional. Instead, I lead the groups by introducing them to expressive creation, offering my peer support, and holding open listening sessions if necessary for the group.

My co-op keeps me busy, and I enjoy the assigned tasks. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next five weeks bring to my role in the Counseling Services Center. My co-op experience impacts the Antioch community with warmth, understanding, support for mental wellness, and creative expression outlets. I’m proud to be part of Antioch’s progressive and positive transitions, and I wish to continue my emotion art workshops into the remainder of my future here.

For more information about the Counseling Services Center and to get connected, please visit www.antiochcollege.edu/campus-life/counseling-services/

The Upcoming Book Nook (currently under construction) in the Counseling Services Center 

This area will soon be created into a peaceful, inviting reading nook for students to enjoy at their leisure. Counseling Services is currently preparing the transformation of the Book Nook. We are awaiting our Reading List Materials order, as well as purchasing and providing comfortable lounge furniture and bookshelves for this space. The Book Nook will incorporate a wide variety of books focused on mental health.

“Women & Power” Collage by Abbey Cyester                    I made this collage during our Emotion/Inspiration Collage Art Workshop meeting. It represents my past with trauma and my feelings and inspirations toward my future educational/career goals.

“Overwhelmed,” by Abbey Cyester   

I recently created this painting during our last “Paint/Draw What You Feel” Workshop. The image represents my exhaustion and anxieties while trying to navigate through school, work, the pandemic, and family health emergencies. The colors represent everything I am currently facing emotionally. The negative space represents my soul, or my “being,” gradually being taken over by each fear and anxiety.

 

Counseling Services Valentine’s Day Candy Gram 

I made over 100 Candy Grams and delivered them to students’ dorm rooms (and mailboxes) on Valentine’s Day. The Grams include sweet treats, writing supplies, and a supportive Valentine’s Day note from Counseling services, including contact information and the MY SSP APP access.

 

Emotion Art Workshop Flyer, by Abbey Cyester