“We’re facing a mental health crisis on all campuses in North America,” says Megan Pinfield, M.A. ’04, an adjunct faculty member in Adler University’s new Master of Counselling Psychology: Art Therapy program in Vancouver. “The demand is exceeding our resources.”
At Simon Fraser University, where Pinfield is a clinical counsellor, she experienced the problem firsthand, with an overload of students seeking help with anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty making social connections, and other issues.
Her answer was to alter the equation by creating a new program, Self-Compassion Oriented Resilience Building (SCORB), which won this year’s Innovation Award by the Canadian Association of University and College Student Services Professionals, and has attracted interest from dozens of universities.
Informed by Pinfield’s Adler experience, SCORB uses expressive arts, including drawing, painting, and improvisation, to evoke anxiety in participants. They then discuss their reactions and the inevitability of imperfection. The group sessions and program flexibility are cost-effective, and research shows it improves student resilience, self-compassion, and intellectual risk-taking.
During the year, four students in Adler’s Art Therapy program completed a Social Justice Practicum working with Pinfield to implement and lead SCORB sessions at Simon Fraser. It was an opportunity to take part in work initiating systemic change from the ground up.
“Next year they’ll be doing art therapy with clients,” Pinfield says. “This expands their understanding of what is possible.”
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This story appears in “Evolution : Revolution,” Adler University’s 2015 Annual Report, published November 2015.