Whether weaving together friendship bracelets into intricate patterns or delicately brushing paint onto a canvas, USC's Art Therapy Club provides students a safe space to de-stress and unwind by creating art and channeling their emotions into a positive outlet.
Lauren Puttock, a second-year psychology student and president of Art Therapy Club, said the club allows students to release their anxieties through a creative medium.
“This club started with the idea in mind of providing a calm and tranquil space to allow people to just create and not feel the pressures of constantly being productive," Puttock said. "Art is an incredibly helpful tool in facilitating that kind of environment because it's something that can very easily take your mind off of things. It's almost a meditative practice at times."
Art Therapy Club meets once every two weeks, typically to work on a simple craft or activity. Past projects have included making bracelets and mini canvas paintings. Kinsey Kuhl, a third-year biology student and vice president of Art Therapy Club, said the medium has been very helpful for her in the past several years.
“I would always use art as a way to vent — an outlet to pour my emotions," Kuhl said.
Knowing that art has helped others release their pent-up emotions, Puttock said she believes that the club's opportunity for relaxation is something worth trying.
“I think a great philosophy to live by is 'it can't hurt.' People might not respond to this, or maybe it's not their favorite way to calm down or have a meditative moment, but it can't hurt, and giving people the opportunity to have a break and a calm place to just relax — it can't hurt," Puttock said.
Jessie Guest, a clinical assistant professor of counselor education and an expert in play therapy, currently coordinates the graduate certificate in play therapy at USC.
“You have some art therapy, creative arts, you have dance, using nature and things like that. Whatever suits and fits your client can be really helpful and helping them express themselves more authentically," Guest said.
According to Guest, the ability for individuals to de-stress and connect with their younger selves allows them to explore different interests and focus on their mental health, all while embracing creativity.
“I think as we get older, we don't lose that desire to play. We may lose time, and we feel like we are maybe too busy to connect with the childlike parts of ourselves. We all have different ways to be creative, and we have different interests,” Guest said. "So when we're thinking about mental health and therapy, we want to connect regardless of age with the best way for them to express themselves."
To help inspire others to channel their creative mind, Puttock said she hopes to make the club and the resources it has to offer more accessible to all USC students.
"I'd like to make it free for everyone. Right now, I'm going through the process of applying for funding through the university. I would like to make it as wide and accessible as possible,” Puttock said.
If you feel drawn to art therapy or are looking for a unique way to de-stress, the Art Therapy Club accepts new members year-round. The club meets every other Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Russell House. If you decide to become a member, there is a $6 due that will go toward art supplies.