The Kent State Honors College held a Career Conversations event in the Honors College Library on Thursday. 

Kent State alumni came and shared information about their career field in a Q&A setting with students. The session focused on psychology and was the third of 13 Career Conversations events organized by Theresa Yogi, the Honors College Coordinator of Scholarships.

Jennifer Finnerty from Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, Skyla McGee from the Centers for Family and Children (CFC), and Rae Burke from the University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital spoke at the event. 

Finnerty, a vocational rehabilitation supervisor for Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities focuses on connecting disabled people with employers so people with disabilities can have the opportunities to work.

“It can sometimes be harder for people with disabilities to find opportunities with barriers in the way, so we work to level the playing field,” she said.

McGee's approach at CFC is to focus on how emotions and rationality can be put together to make the best possible decisions for an individual. She works with adults and children, but is considered to be a children's counselor and works with many of her patients through art therapy. 

McGee attended Kent State for fine arts with a focus in sculpture before going to grad school at Ursuline College to study art therapy. McGee uses art in her therapy for particular patients, but not all of them. For the patients she does help through art she uses different mediums of art for different patients, such as colored pencils or clay.

“Generally folks are coming in with mental health concerns in mind because I am professionally trained in dialectical behavior therapy which is very helpful for people with borderline personality disorder,” McGee said. 

Burke graduated from Kent State with a degree in art history and a minor in marketing, however she also went onto grad school to study art therapy. She works in a psych unit at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. She leads counseling-based and art therapy-based group sessions with the kids in the psych unit. Burke said, “In psych, no one wants to be there; they usually come after a suicide attempt or some kind of behavioral outburst. They usually come through the ER after being given a psych evaluation.”

According to a Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital handout, “Art Therapy is an approach to mental health that utilizes the process of creating art to improve mental, physical, and emotional wellness.”

The handout also gives advice on how to become an art therapist, “Art therapy is a masters level field that requires intensive time, training (including a total of 850 hours of clinical and internship experience(s)), and research. Upon graduating, one may begin practicing as an Art Therapist; however, they are not a Registered Art Therapist until they complete 1,000 patient contact hours of post graduate experience. In addition to this, the Art Therapy Credentials Board requires a total of 100 hours of supervision provided by a board-certified art therapist. Upon completion of these requirements the individual may now apply for their registration from the Art Therapy Credentials Board. If accepted, they are now a credentialed or Registered Art Therapist.”

A student asked if their undergraduate studies have helped them at all in this career field. McGee said, “I think that, in general, most of my art classes were helpful and my psychology classes were helpful as well so that I had at least a base level of psychology and an extensive knowledge of art.”

Finnerty responded to the question by citing an occasion when she had to spend time in a neighborhood of Chicago for one of her courses while attending school in Indiana. 

She said, “I had never been exposed to anything like that in my life, but it is something I still remember and it was years ago. The course was about social problems so that we could be exposed to things that we don't get to see every day and get the backstory of what we were seeing.”

“When you go into counseling it's important that you know how to empathize with other people,” said Finnerty. “You have to step back and not allow the negative parts of the job impact you or you won't be able to help anyone else.”

There are ten more Career Conversation sessions being held at the honors college throughout the rest of the semester. The next event is on Oct. 22 at 4:00 p.m. in the Honors College Library.

Contact Aidan Coyne at acoyne8@kent.edu.

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