As a pre-Art therapy major, many expected senior Sarah Bleeke’s passion would be based in art, but Bleeke’s heart lies with people.
Sarah Bleeke’s passion for people, along with her heart for God, has led her to pursue a major in pre-Art therapy and a minor in youth ministries, allowing her to integrate her artistic talents and her love for people into one job description.
“My main passion has always been people,” Bleeke said. “I think therapy is a great way to incorporate ministry because even without speaking the name of Jesus I can show people love.”
Bleeke describes pre -Art therapy as a compilation of both Psychology and Studio Art. According to Bleeke, art therapy, play therapy, aquatic therapy and music therapy all reach the same part of the brain as talk therapy, but through different techniques.
“Kids could crumple up pieces of white paper and glue them on to a big cardboard piece to make an iceberg, for example, and leave a hole at the bottom of it,” Bleeke said. “By having the visual aid there, they can put all of their thoughts, emotions, and feelings into the iceberg and then we can talk about slowly melting things down and taking a couple thoughts out of the bottom as we melt it down, rather than it being overwhelming to think ‘I have all these thoughts in my head and I can't process what's going on.’”
Art is mainly integrated into therapy by creating visual aids so that it's easier for people to process their emotions.
In ministering to clients through artistic visual aids, Bleeke explains that the aspect of art in her future practice will not be centered around creating a beautiful finished piece of art, but will rather represent the work of her clients in their attempt to overcome whatever it is that they are facing.
To become a licensed Art Therapist, Bleeke will graduate from Taylor University and continue on to get her masters to become a specialized counselor. Specifically, Bleeke wants to work with outpatient mental health.
Depending on the masters program that Bleeke attends, she could be a licensed counselor and integrate art just how she wishes without being a technical licensed art therapist, or she could be a licensed art therapist where her main focus would be the art aspect of therapy.
“The purpose of doing pre-art therapy is that I will have all of my art credentials taken care of, so then when I do my masters, I'll primarily be enrolled in classes that integrate art with different types of therapy,” Bleeke said.
Due to the common perception of artists not being able to create a financially secure future for themselves, Bleeke was given an assignment in her independent studies class for art in high school where she had to research different job opportunities that she could have within the realm of art.
“I found pre-art therapy, which perfectly integrates my passions for ministry, therapy and the mind,” Bleeke said. “I've always been very interested in the brain and how it works.”
More than anything else, Bleeke’s goal is not to showcase her artistic talent, but to be a reliable companion for those of any age through the application of art.
“I really just want to be somebody who you can come to, whether you're a child, a teenager, or an adult,” Bleeke said. “Even if I don't agree with someone's life choices or someone's perspective, I want to assure them that I will still love them because of the way that Jesus loves us.”