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Student shares the impact, power of art therapy

Stories | 05.08.23

Editor’s Note: Adler is hosting its first-ever Giving Day on May 10-11, an opportunity for the community to support the changemakers and visionaries of tomorrow by donating to the Adler Fund or one of its scholarship funds.

Image of art therapy sticker

Donors during Adler’s first-ever Giving Day will receive a sticker designed by art therapy students.

Growing up with a parent with mental health issues, Rebecca Kramer saw the power of art.

Their relationship was affected by a lull in communication and a lack of time together — but at 15, Kramer noticed something.

“Whenever I was making art, they were able to sit and talk with me,” she said. “It was therapeutic for both of us, and I learned very quickly that there are different ways people can communicate.”

That knowledge led Kramer to pursue a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling: Art Therapy at Adler University in 2021. She has since become a liaison for the Illinois Art Therapy Association and currently serves as treasurer with the Adler Art Therapy Student Association (AATSA).

“The art therapy program at Adler has not only helped me become a better clinician, but also a better person,” Kramer said. “My cohort feels like a family, and the faculty have become mentors, friends, and confidants.”

So when the AATSA was asked to contribute to Adler’s first-ever Giving Day on May 10-11 by designing “Thank You” stickers for donors, Kramer — along with AATSA President Megan Unsicker and Communications Officer Kaitlyn Delaney — didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“To be part of Giving Day is so cool for the department and the Adler Art Therapy Student Association,” Kramer said. “We’re over the moon to be recognized and to have this opportunity to share the impact of art therapy.”

Photo of Rebecca Kramer

“The art therapy program at Adler has not only helped me become a better clinician, but also a better person,” Kramer said. “My cohort feels like a family, and the faculty have become mentors, friends, and confidants.”

But it’s not the only way the AATSA is giving back to greater Adler community. The student group is also currently selling stickers online to raise money for a scholarship fund that would benefit an incoming student from a historically disadvantaged community to attend the art therapy program. As of April 27, the group has nearly reached its goal of $500.

“Unfortunately, the cost to pursue art therapy — and higher education, in general — can often hinder access for interested students, especially for BIPOC populations,” Kramer said. “This is a small way for us to help in any way to make pursuing a master’s degree in art therapy more accessible.”

After completing her undergraduate program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2020, Kramer found Adler by researching accredited schools with clinical art therapy programs.

“I went to the website and loved what I saw, including its mission for social justice,” she said. “When I began reaching out, the Admissions team at the University’s was very responsive. It checked all the boxes for me.”

Two years later in the fall, Kramer will graduate with her master’s degree and immediately plans to take her licensure test.

“I’m ready for my next chapter in my life, which hopefully involves helping others through art therapy,” she said. “Life after Adler is going to be exciting, and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had as a student. I know the skills I’ve gained will prepare me for what’s next.”

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