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Students manage their emotional health through art

Student in black hoodie and wearing a silver ring is seated, surrounded by paint tubes, newspaper, paintbrushes and a cell phone on the desk in front of him. He is holding a red paintbrush and painting a shape on a pale pink and yellow paper.
Yondonjamts Bayartsengel, a sophomore from Mongolia majoring in business marketing, who helped advertise the event, paints an expression of his future goals.

Nomungerel Enkhtuvshin, an intern from Mongolia working in Counseling Services, uses creative arts to mentor students, like she did for a therapy session on Sept. 23.

She talked about using art therapy to help students improve their emotional and mental well-being. “I took an art therapy class from Dr. Eric Orr, [assistant professor in the Faculty of Sciences], and I learned how I can use art therapy to help people express their complicated feelings or find a solution to their trauma.”

She said her boss, Rachel Kekaula, director of Counseling Services, encouraged her to facilitate weekly therapy sessions for the students.

Enkhtuvshin graduated from BYUH in Fall 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is working as an academic trainee as part of her post-graduate internship.

In Enkhtuvshin’s therapy session, students participated in muscle relaxation and art exercises. The physical method involved students loosening their muscles to help relieve feelings of anxiety. Afterwards participants illustrated pictures of their future selves and ambitions they hope to accomplish.

Katie Kirk, freshman from Indiana majoring in communications, and Yondonjamts Bayartsengel, a sophomore from Mongolia majoring in business marketing, were among the group of participants. Kirk said painting portraits allowed her to focus on her own goals without stressing over it.

Female student wearing plain white shirt and wearing a blue patterned mask is seated, painting a portrait of a woman with brown hair
Accalia Stancliffe, a junior graphic design major from Fort Worth, Texas, paints a portrait during the art therapy event.

“When you think about the future it can be stressful, but painting it [allows] you to take your time and really think it out. It can be anything you want it to be because it yours, [and] it can help you feel more optimistic.”

Kirk expressed she values her mental health and believes students must care for themselves mentally as much as they would physically. “I think it’s important to stay on top of it because a lot of people forget that they need to keep up with their mind and take care of themselves.”

Bayartsengel said he helped Enkhtuvshin advertise the event and was invited to attend. He said the exercise allowed him to ponder and visualize his life goals more clearly.

“I [enjoyed] the activity because it gave me the opportunity to imagine and place my goals on paper. ... I have never [drawn] out my goals [before], but today, I had the opportunity to express those ideas.” He said he plans to participate in future activities.

Enkhtuvshin said anyone is allowed to attend these sessions without registration or long-term commitment. She expressed it is a “very casual way to learn some stress relief techniques and [to simply enjoy] some fun activities.” She holds sessions on Mondays from 3 to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to noon. The sessions are held in the Counseling Services Conference Room, McKay 181A.