Adler Graduate School Art Therapy Interns Work in Jamaica

Art Therapy Students in Jamaica
Kelsey Dagen and fellow classmates in Jamaica

Adler Graduate School (AGS) Art Therapy students recently completed an internship abroad in Jamaica with the Institute for Caribbean Children and Family’s International Service Learning Internship Programme (ISLIP). During the 10-day educational excursion, students were educated about Jamaican family, culture, social, and economic issues from the esteemed Dr. Claudette Clifford Brown. They stayed at The University of The West Indies (UWI) campus in Kingston. Kelsey Dagen, an Adler Graduate School Art Therapy student, shares her experiences and a recap of the busy schedule while interning abroad.

Kelsey heard about the internship program abroad while in class with Program Director, Craig Balfany. At the deadline date, she decided to take the opportunity with the handful of other students. Day one arrived; Kelsey, Craig, and fellow classmates caught a flight and the adventure began. Upon arriving at the campus, they received a tour and met Dr. Brown. Dr. Brown showed them her work area, the psychology and social work departments, her play therapy area, and her school office.

Donated items to Jamaican communityOn day two and three, the group received a lesson on the history of campus, which used to be a plantation, via museums. They visited Life Yard, a community-based organization that creates change through empowering children utilizing art, agriculture, and entertainment. Dr. Brown who works closely with the organization hopes to expand the work with troubled kids on a one-on-one basis. The low-income community brings art together using murals to focus on growing community pride and reducing violence. “It was amazing to see the use of art murals to decentralize trauma and violence.”

The following days consisted of working closely with Dr. Brown. Kelsey and her colleagues led an art therapy directive to help decompress trauma with clients and educating the Division of Social Services in Jamaica on how art therapy can build rapport and self-care. They developed the idea of an art cart to keep supplies from dollar stores and items found in nature for when the opportunity arises. Kelsey and the group were able to partake in the monthly meeting Dr. Brown hosts with girls to talk about barriers and of overcoming disabilities.

Jamaican students mural projectFor hands-on experience, Kelsey and her classmates engaged with the students at the Practicing Primary School. There they worked with three classrooms and an after school “Peace Wariors” program to have discussions and artmaking around the themes of violence in the community and drawing images about safety and safe spaces.

Blue Hole JamaicaDuring the scheduled free time, students experienced a trip to Ocho Rios, The Blue Hole on the White River, visited local beaches, peaked at the Bob Marley Museum and enjoyed awesome ice cream at the Devon House. Kelsey remarks, “I loved being able to see art therapy first hand while being immersed in a different culture. The ‘Jamaica time’ and go-with-the-flow culture was a welcomed adjustment from our American, regimen-minded focus. Also, I loved culturally immersing myself in the food. I tried ackee, boiled bananas, and curried goat patties. I am currently, halfway through the art therapy program, and this experience reaffirmed that I want to work with kids in a family setting using art.”

To learn more about how you can join our art therapy program, click here. Our art therapy program continues to give back to our communities and communities abroad through intern work.