Where Should You Go To Grad School for Counseling or Art Therapy?
By Allegra Borghese, written during her first year as an Art Therapy/Counseling student
1. CLASSROOM SIZE.
The number of students in an average class at Southwestern College is less than 15, with the range being from about 8-20 students per class, and fewer for Practicum Labs. This number creates an intimate and close-knit group where individuals feel safe to share and create authentically. Students are able to receive the personal attention they need in order to build self-confidence, which allows them to lead themselves and each other through the curriculum.
With a stunning backdrop of the Rocky Mountains set aglow by the desert sun, you can’t beat the unique geography of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The beauty of this land will inspire your creativity and healing work, and it offers a wide range of activities to pursue during free time. Also, the cultural geography is rich as well; Latino, Spanish, Native American and anglo-American groups call Santa Fe home. The social fabric of this city is complexly woven, providing ample training in multicultural sensitivity and awareness.
3. EMPHASIS ON YOU.
Southwestern College is built on the premise that YOU have a unique and individual way of bringing light and healing into the world. It will give you a personalized academic experience so that you will become the therapist that YOU are meant to be. The education at Southwestern is designed so that your individual skills, insights and talents are molded, stretched, discovered and strengthened to create the vessel for healing that you and no one else can embody.
4. CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS.
The certificate programs are a great way to dig deeper into a specific area of interest during your Master’s education, without having to go somewhere else. The past few years have brought exciting new programs to campus, including Infant Mental Health, Photo Therapy, Licensed Alcohol, Drug and Addiction Counselor (LADAC) and Children’s Mental Health. They joined the previous popular certificate programs of Ecotherapy, Grief, Loss and Trauma, and Interpersonal Neurobiology. As a Southwestern student, you are able to attend three classes in any certificate program before deciding whether to commit to the program. Plus, many classes required for your degree can also count towards the hours one needs to accrue for the certificate program, thus saving you some cash.
Each quarter 6-10 scholarships become available for students ranging from $900 to $6,000. There are also graduate assistantship positions available for the year starting in the fall. The school tries very hard to keep your costs down and make your education as affordable as possible. The choice to attend Southwestern College is an investment and promise to yourself to be the person you are meant to become; it is not writing a check to ‘Big Business’.
6. THE PRESIDENT.
You will actually get to meet him, if not take a class with him. The point is, he actually cares about getting to know you and wants to be part of your academic experience. I’m not sure how many other college presidents can pull that off, AND with as much cowboy swagger and humor as this one. He is passionate about Southwestern College and committed to its mission: Transforming Consciousness through Education. [student is referring to former SWC President, Jim Nolan.]
7. THE FACULTY.
Have you ever stared blankly at your professor and thought to yourself, ‘I would rather be doing anything other than this’, or ‘Okay, all I have to do is memorize to do well’, or ‘How does this help me in the real world at all?’? I promise you that the classes at Southwestern College will captivate your full attention – mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually – and demand the highest critical thinking skills that you wish other teachers had cared to cultivate in you. The faculty members come from a vast array of backgrounds and most have served decades in the field you have come here to study.
If anything on the following list sounds fun, you’re coming to the right place: hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, MMA, meditation, painting, drawing, photography, ceramics, singing, dancing, nature walks, playing instruments, riding horses, eating ethnic foods, camping, road tripping, learning/speaking Spanish, Native American culture and art, acting, sustainable living, magic, rodeos, swimming…I could go on.
The other students in your classes share your conviction to connect to a deeper and more whole way of living, working, and loving. Friendships will be made that support your truest self and are life-long.
How many times in your life are you going to be able to do this? Whether it means moving across the country, taking out a loan, changing careers, living in a foreign place, breaking up with or dragging along a partner, or anything else that feels slightly scary (okay, maybe really scary) but exhilarating too, if you’ve gotten this far on my list chances are THIS IS REALLY WHERE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE! So take a leap of faith and step into the wobbly dance of a life transition. The door is open; all you have to do is walk through it.