Jacqueline Yurik watched as an elderly woman applied dark blue paint to her paper, slowly creating the shape of a tree. The woman added no leaves or additional colors. While others may have depicted trees with lush branches or flower buds, this exercise echoed the depression that she was struggling with.
It was during her summer internship at an elderly group home that Yurik placed paper and paint brushes before each man and woman and witnessed the individual responses. Yurik, a junior who hopes to become an art therapist, describes this form of therapy as “a way of asking deeper questions.”
Yurik is double majoring in art and psychology to prepare for graduate school. She takes classes for her psychology requirements at Eastern while studying art at Rosemont College.
“You have to understand basic elements of design,” she said of working as an art therapist and interpreting patients’ artwork. “Drawing a curvy line gives you a different feeling than a straight line.”
Yurik originally planned to work as an art therapist with the elderly, “but I found out that I just really love kids,” she said.
Art therapy is often used with children in places such as the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where Yurik hopes to have an internship.
“Kids can’t communicate,” Yurik said. “They need another outlet.”
In a therapy session, a child may be asked to draw a family of animals, and an animal positioned far away from the others may lead the therapist to ask questions. Yurik said that children are usually unaware of how their drawing will be analyzed, so they are more likely to draw whatever they feel.
“It makes them more comfortable,” Yurik said.
After graduating, Yurik plans to attend graduate school at a university with an art therapy program. Having a degree in art will be a solid basis for her graduate studies: “If you didn’t have that background, it would hurt you,” Yurik said.
“I like to challenge myself,” she said of majoring in two subjects. “So it was good for me.”