Why We Love this Recent Graduate’s Master’s Project (And You Should Too!)

Taylor Vance — a recent Art Therapy, December 2017, graduate — is the first to complete the experiential part of her Master’s Project in a refreshing Adler style: creating an artwork donation. Her paper focused on the two modalities of applied behavior analysis & SCERTS. In her work, she created a painting demonstrating the past, present, and future of autism; then, donated it to her previous internship site, St. David’s Autism Day Treatment, for their inspiration in helping Taylor determine her passion.

As Taylor embarks on her journey after graduating, our Adler team reached out to hear about how her experiences at Adler Graduate School (AGS) and beyond have helped encourage her road to self-actualization as a mental health practitioner.

 

Adler: Congratulations on your graduation achievement. We are so happy to be able to talk about your time spent at AGS. Can you start with a brief background about why you choose Art Therapy?

Taylor: It started in high school, when I discovered my love for art. But, I did not know how to make that a career. I first heard of art therapy through my school counselor and began my search for colleges that could support art therapy.

Adler: You have traveled abroad twice before attending graduate school. Tell us about both of those experiences.

Taylor: Yes, the first study abroad was very short, only about two weeks. It was a London Art Tour; we visited theaters, museums, and galleries to gain a perspective of what is possible through art. The next study abroad experience I had was the summer before my senior year at college, I traveled to South Africa through GVI-Global Vision International. They offered a volunteer internship doing art with children. I spent two months that summer in a small town 40 minutes outside of Cape Town. The first four weeks were spent working in a first-grade classroom using art to teach lessons; the last four weeks were spent in an orphanage. I had the opportunity to discover how powerful art can be not only for teaching but healing. It allowed these children to learn creatively.

Adler: Since you love to travel, understand different cultures, and analyze how their art expresses their heritage, you attended ICASSI in Dublin, Ireland while attending AGS. How was that adventure?

Taylor: When the opportunity to go to ICASSI came around, I jumped on it. One, because it was in Ireland; two, because I had never been to an event like ICASSI. I did not know what to expect being around a bunch of Adlerians for two weeks. It was one of the most insightful experiences. Being surrounded by individuals who know so much about what it means to be human and be a part of a community was inspiring.

Adler: Your entire journey to graduation you have been forging a unique path, creating the career you envisioned since high school. How were those creations of your undergraduate degree, travel, and ultimately your Master’s Project transformative?

Taylor: The most valuable thing I have learned at AGS is that it is you must be your most authentic self. If you don’t bring your most authentic self into the room, your clients will know. My experiences lead me to this point, helping me discover my authentic self and accept it. When it came to deciding the type of master’s project, I struggled to find something that would express what I wanted to get across. It took some collaboration and brainstorming to find something that was authentic to me but also authentic to my topic, Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Adler: Your Master’s Project discusses autism. Why did you select that topic?

Taylor: One of my first internships was at St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development in the Autism Day Treatment program. This internship is where I had my first experiences working with these individuals. I was inspired to discover how art therapy can help this population. After St. David’s, I had the opportunity to work for another autism treatment center, The Lazarus Project. Both these locations are what inspired my master’s project. St. David’s used SCERTS as their treatment method and The Lazarus Project used Applied Behavior Analysis. I had the unique experience of learning both treatment methods. When I was brainstorming topics for my master’s project, it made sense to use my experiences with these treatment methods to generate a topic.

Adler: Can you give our readers a short explanation about your art piece?

Taylor: The idea behind the painting was to create a response to my research. When I was deciding on the type of project I wanted, the idea of creating art was a part of answering to my authentic self. I wanted to express the individuality of each person with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but also how far the research has come.

Adler: Coming into AGS as one of the youngest of your cohort, you had not heard of Adlerian psychotherapy before attending graduate school. How would you describe your experience with Adler theory and application?

Taylor: It sounds silly to call it fate that I found AGS. Now that I have graduated with this knowledge and insight about myself and the world, I can’t see how I could do my job without the education I received at AGS.

Adler: What 3 words would you use to describe your time at AGS?

Taylor: Insightful. Challenging. Transformative.

Adler: Anything else you would like our readers to know?

Taylor: It is hard work. You need to be willing to open yourself up and discover who you are. I think that is what makes us better therapist and counselors.

 

At Adler Graduate School, we love hearing about the success and journey our graduates have undertaken to further their profession. To learn more about how Adler can inspire you, click here.