Karen Pence on Wednesday formally announced Wednesday she will use her platform as second lady to tout the benefits of art therapy through her "Healing with the heART" initiative.
"I chose one initiative to champion, and it is art therapy, which is near and dear to my heart," Pence said Wednesday while speaking at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla. "From children with cancer to struggling teens, to grieving families, to people with autism, to military service members experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, to those with eating disorders, art therapy is changing lives. Unfortunately, art therapy is not well-known, but I hope to change that."
Her office chose to make the announcement on FSU's campus because of the national recognition it has received as one of five programs in the country to offer a doctoral program in art therapy. In addition, its master of science in art therapy has been around for 30 years.
Pence hopes to counteract the misunderstandings people have of the profession and who can benefit from the therapy. Art therapy is used to resolve conflict, promote self-awareness, and advance personal development through internal reflection and outward action.
"We have three goals. One is to elevate the profession and explain it. This is not arts and crafts. The second is to encourage young people to go into this profession, and the third is to make people aware that this is an option. If you want some type of therapy, if you've had a trauma, this is something you can look into," Pence said on Fox News' "Fox and Friends" Wednesday.
In addition, Pence is no newcomer to the art scene and her background makes her a sensible fit for the initiative. She has a master's degree in art education and been a teacher for 25 years.
Pence spent a few months meeting with professionals in the art therapy field to make sure it was the right fit for her over the next three years while President Trump and her husband, Vice President Mike Pence, are in office.
In her newly announced official capacity, she will speak publicly about her initiative, visit programs around the country, meet art therapists and students, and advocate for more scientific and medical research on the benefits of art therapy.
Pence was joined by Florida's first lady Ann Scott, FSU President John Thrasher, American Art Therapy Association President Dr. Donna Betts, and other officials Wednesday.
"We are honored to help Mrs. Pence launch her efforts raising awareness of the power and value of art therapy," said Sally McRorie, FSU provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. "Florida State is proud to be a national leader in art therapy research and in the educational and clinical preparation of highly qualified art therapists."
She toured the school's program facilities after the speech then visited Canopy Cove Eating Disorder Treatment Center in Tallahassee. The organization uses art therapy with its patients.