Frances Fawandu, MA, ATR-BC, LCAT, is a practicing art therapist as well as a new addition to our faculty. Frances currently teaches Multicultural Issues in Art Therapy with Val Sereno, MA, ATR-BC, LCAT. The course explores the impact of ethnicity and culture on the therapeutic process to increase students’ awareness of their biases, cultural background and how that effects their world view and clinical work. Frances has expressed an interest and knowledge in religion & spirituality, which will be one of her contributions to the course.
1. Would you share a bit about your interest in religion and spirituality?
A number of studies suggest that religion and spirituality are beneficial resources in the recovery process of clients struggling with mental health and substance abuse problems. My interest in religion and spirituality has allowed me to be especially sensitive in assessing the religious and spiritual concerns of clients as it relates to the provision of multicultural art therapy services.
2. Could you share about past experiences with multiculturalism in your art therapy practice that have informed your approach to this class?
My experiences with multiculturalism in art therapy practice includes providing art therapy treatment services for clients from culturally diverse populations in multiple clinical settings. Throughout the years, I have also provided art therapy workshops for both students and professionals of diverse cultural backgrounds.
These diversified experiences have challenged me to examine my own biases and assumptions in order to consider alternative possibilities. It has caused me to be especially sensitive to the individualized treatment needs of the clients that I serve. As an instructor, I encourage art therapy students to increase their sensitivity and awareness of various cultural perspectives. In therapy we cannot adapt a “one size fit all” approach to treatment. Each client is an individual and as clinicians it’s crucial to gain knowledge and understanding of our clients’ worldview in order to effectively serve them. Sue and Sue (2016) said it nicely when they wrote, “Because groups and individuals differ from one another, the blind application of techniques to all situations and all populations seems ludicrous” (p. 58). The art making process and engaging clients in therapeutic discussions about their artistic productions provided greater insights concerning their worldview and problematic issues. Thus, this allowed me to offer interventions that promoted resilience, empowerment, and motivation, thereby further enhancing their individualized recovery process.
3. Could you describe your work at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center? Does this inform your approach to teaching?
As Director of Creative Arts Therapy, I consistently ensure that our therapeutic programming is client centered and culturally responsive to meet the special needs of the diversified client population we serve. This experience has most certainly informed my approach to teaching. I want to ensure students understand that becoming a culturally responsive therapist is an ongoing process that involves each individual’s self-awareness examination to increase understanding of how their own cultural background and experiences may influence their attitudes, biases, and assumptions concerning interactions with culturally diverse populations.
Written and compiled by Jenny Asaro (Class of 2019)