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Speak Out, Listen Up: Art Therapy Student Wins State Award for Research

The Pennsylvania Art Therapy Association named Seton Hill student Nicole Linsmeier the recipient of its 2019 Graduate Research Award. Nicole, who graduated with her M.A. in Art Therapy with a Specialization in Counseling in May 2019, received the award for “Speak Out, Listen Up: An Exploration of Art Therapy in Public Schools.” 

“Ms. Linsmeier curated a literature review that wove together current issues in American public schools about inclusivity, disabilities, mental health and stigma, bullying and school violence,” says Assistant Professor of Art Therapy Danielle Moss, DAT, ATR-BC, LPC, ATCS, NCC, who nominated Nicole for the award. “She addressed the complex nature of the school setting and how mental health and social services intersect to support children and adolescents’ development and personal and social wellbeing.”

"I can guarantee anybody considering this program will find their place in the field of art therapy and help spread awareness of what art therapy can do for the entire world.”

Nicole, who earned her B.A. in Seton Hill in psychology, is now pursuing her licensure as an art therapist. She’s fulfilling her postgraduate art therapy experience requirements at Adelphoi Village, where she works with teenage girls at a residential unit. Nicole hopes to continue conducting research and using art therapy as a form of advocacy for her clients after she becomes a licensed art therapist. 

“My research project began as a cluster of jumbled ideas and paralyzing self-doubt,” she says. “It turned into this work of art that allowed my clients to have a voice for themselves about something they need in public schools.” 

One experience Nicole had during her project confirmed the relevance of her research, and the importance of her work. 

“I started ‘Lunch Bunch’ groups, where I offered time to make art and process through any struggles the students may be facing,” she says. “I remember putting a signup sheet on the wall in front of the counselor’s office with organized lines and spaces to place names. I remember the entire page being filled, names on top of names, flying off the organized lines where they were supposed to be. Names filled every single corner of the large poster board. That was enough evidence in itself, these children need something more.”

Nicole traveled to Philadelphia in December with her former professor and Art Therapy Program Director Dana Elmendorf, MA, ATR-BC, LPC, to accept her award. Assistant Professor of Art Therapy Danielle Moss, who was Nicole’s thesis advisor and internship supervisor, joined them at the event, as did some of Nicole’s classmates. (See photo above. Nicole is third from left.)

“Seton Hill’s art therapy graduate program taught me so many things, not only about the field of art therapy but my identity as an art therapist,” Nicole says. “I was taught by some of the most incredible people I will ever meet, all with unique styles and ideas. I can guarantee anybody considering this program will find their place in the field of art therapy and help spread awareness of what art therapy can do for the entire world.”