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Art Therapy Grad Creates New Programs to Address Community Needs

When Leara Glinzak visits a new community, she looks for the residents’ needs.

“I ask where the problems are and is there something I can do to make the community better,” she says.

Those problems encompass a range of mental health issues: addiction, depression, dementia, homelessness, and grief.

Glinzak has used art to heal in many communities in the Grand Rapids area since arriving there with a degree in art therapy from Seton Hill and a master’s from Mount Mary University.

“I ask where the problems are and is there something I can do to make the community better.”

She recently co-presented at a national conference, detailing her research on art therapy decreasing distress in 72 adults with cancer. The study was published by the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association.

Glinzak set up the first art therapy program for a 500-resident dementia care center, then started an independent practice.

She now operates her own art therapy studio, I Light, in a building owned by a church. “I’m serving a community and helping others, which helps their mission,” she says.

In a partnership with the Dominican Sisters, she holds monthly workshops on spiritual growth through art, leads retreats and works with dementia patients.

This fall, she is teaching art therapy majors at Grand Valley State University. “I need to educate the community and start engaging others,” she says.

Seton Hill’s young alumni are making their mark on the world through their work in science and healthcare, finance and business, industry, entertainment and service to those in need. The Fall/Winter 2019 edition of Seton Hill’s Forward magazine featured 30 of these alumni, all under the age of 30. You can find all of their stories here on Seton Hill’s site (just look for the “30 Under 30” icon)