Art Therapy Clinic Helps Local Students Thrive

The Helen B. Landgarten Art Therapy Clinic marked a milestone anniversary this spring when it celebrated ten years of providing art therapy services in the community, most notably through its Resilience and Readiness Program at Westchester’s very own Orville Wright Middle School

Based in LMU’s Department of Marital and Family Therapy (MFT), the Landgarten Art Therapy Clinic touches the lives of children, parents, veterans, and entire families through the pro-bono clinical art therapy services it provides to underserved and underprivileged populations in Los Angeles. MFT graduate students and alumni in collaboration with LAUSD, the American Red Cross, and several other organizations provide the bulk of the services to clients, having contributed over 1,500 hours of direct service since the clinic began.

The clinic’s Resilience and Readiness Program has had a particularly strong impact on students at Orville Wright Middle School. Due to the fact incoming students are often transitioning from an all-day elementary school classroom setting to a middle school with a different scheduling structure, there is a tendency for students to isolate themselves from their classmates at the start of the school year. Through the Resilience and Readiness Program, these students are tasked with identifying their individual strengths and illustrate them through a variety of art projects with an end-goal of developing more self-confidence and a strengthened ability to connect with others. Orville Wright Principal Christina Wantz has observed the impact of the program firsthand. “We have seen a huge growth in student self-esteem. By the end of the program, we see that students are more social and are able to take risks. We have seen the most success in how it has helped students with disabilities. You see them branch out from their peers in elementary school and make new friends.”

Overall, the program has received a positive response from everyone involved. Principal Wantz can hear the student conversations regarding the days and times of the program and how they look forward to meeting up with their friends and creating projects. Parents are aware of the positive impact it has left on their children and are happy to see them grow, make new friends, and build their self-confidence. Ultimately, this program has and will continue to create a safe space for Orville Wright students to develop self-esteem and connect with their peers.