In Focus: Kyla McGinnis
Tell us about your background and what led you to be interested in the field of Creative Arts Therapy.
I didn’t follow a straight path to Creative Arts Therapy, but I’m glad I followed the path that I did. I’ve always loved helping people, and I’ve been pouring my heart into art since I was a young child. When I first started school at my Alma Matter (SUNY Potsdam), I had declared a major in biology, with a plan to become a physical therapist. I quickly realized that it wasn’t the correct route for me to take and promptly switched my major to studio art. I remembered my senior year of high school spending time shadowing health care professionals at the Northeast Center for Rehabilitation and Brain Injury in Lake Katrine, NY. At the center, as soon as you walk into the front doors, there are beautiful paintings and works of art on every wall, all done by the neighbors who live at the center. When I thought back and found out that it was an art therapist who made that art a possibility for those neighbors, I knew that being a creative art therapist was the career for me.
What attracted you to Hofstra University’s CAT program?
There were three things that attracted me to Hofstra’s Creative Arts Therapy program. The location of the school made a simple commute back and forth to school and home whenever I needed a little family time. Also, being on Long Island, I knew there would be many different internship opportunities within the area. When I took the time to visit, I had a gut feeling that Hofstra University was the right school for me. I always say trust your gut. I was moved by the attentiveness of the faculty and the warmness I felt during the interview process. I was actually able to speak to faculty when looking into Hofstra, and I enjoyed and appreciated that. It felt very real and genuine to me. Finally, I knew Hofstra was an accredited and amazing school and would help prepare me to get my ATR-BC and my LCAT upon graduation. I knew Hofstra would set me up for a success.
Tell us about your relevant experiences outside of the classroom.
During my time here at Hofstra, I’ve had the opportunity to have two practicum placements and I’m beginning my first internship in the Fall. I’ve also had the opportunity to take a class in which I received hours towards my internship by working with inner city children at a sleep away camp. My first practicum experience, I was lucky to have worked with inpatient adult psychiatric patients as well as detox and rehabilitation patients at a hospital ten minutes from Hofstra. My second practicum, I worked with older adults in a physical rehabilitation that incorporates not only art therapy, but reiki, aromatherapy, guided visualization, and music therapy. I am fortunate to also being doing my first full internship there as well. In these opportunities, I have shaped and re-shaped my future. I realize now that my ultimate goal is to work with older adults. Additionally, aside from my field experience, I have the privilege of working as a graduate assistant for the director of the program.
Describe your experience and the benefits of being a Graduate Assistant for the CAT program.
My experience working as Dr. Bloomgarden’s graduate assistant has been amazing. I’ve been able to work at open houses, meeting new prospective students who are interested in the program. I find my job to be very humbling and rewarding. I see how much love and hard work goes into making and keeping the Creative Arts Therapy program up to its high standards. I know that my future is secure because I see the ‘behind-the-scenes’ view of the amazing faculty at Hofstra University who deeply care about each and every student in the program.
Describe your experience working and studying with faculty in the Department of Counseling and Mental Health Professions.
When I say that the faculty is amazing, I truly mean it. Art Therapists in general have a way about them that’s very unique. Hofstra’s professors are no exception. My professors are kind, intelligent, warm, charismatic, and full of life. I look up to them as mentors. I know that if I have a problem they will be there to help me. Each one of my professors is so different and yet so good at what they do. They incorporate lectures, experientials, real life experiences and stories, and encourage conversation in the classroom. This is a faculty that truly cares about each and every student in the program and it shows.
What is your advice for prospective students looking for a degree in CAT?
If a prospective student thinks that art therapy is their calling, I encourage them to reach out to any art therapists they can find. Send local art therapists emails, ask them about how they got to be where they are, get to know a bit about what school was like for them, and ask them if they have any advice. Art Therapists in general like to help people, so take advantage of that character trait! It will help to learn about the field before even getting into it. I also advise people to keep an open mind when thinking about the clientele they are interested in. I went into this program absolutely convinced I wanted to work with a particular population of people, and now that has changed! It’s okay to have an idea of what you might be interested in, but keep your options open and you might find you have many passions within the field.