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Fulbright Scholar Hopes to Expand Art Therapy

September 22, 2015

After spending 10 years abroad in Russia, Israel and Denmark, Minh-Anh Nguyen, PhD, has finally landed in the Creative Arts Therapy Department to work on his research as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar. His pursuit of scholarship and desire to bring creative arts therapies to his native Vietnam are the driving forces behind his tenure at Drexel.

“I want to design a program that contains practical activities for teachers in Vietnam and America,” said Nguyen when asked about the main objective of his fellowship. With a background in clinical psychology, Nguyen knows there’s value in creative arts therapies and a need for them to be used proactively.

“We can use art therapy theory to create activities like coloring, drawing, collage-making, clay manipulation, and storytelling to help children better express themselves,” said Nguyen. “These activities have nurturing factors that can transfer humanity and tolerance to children.”

Nguyen believes that the proactive and targeted use of creative art therapies, primarily to children 5 to 6 years old, has the capacity to act as a preventative measure. “We want to give children the tools they need to express themselves now so we can prevent issues further down the road.” The Creative Arts Therapy (CAT) Department will be instrumental in assisting Nguyen with his research project. His mentor and faculty member of the CAT Department, Nancy Gerber, PhD,hopes to connect Nguyen with the Philadelphia Public School system and Drexel’s Master’s and Doctoral students to provide him the resources he needs.

“I want to learn what has and hasn’t worked for our Master’s and PhD students to assist with the development of my research project,” said Nguyen.

When compared to Vietnam, the United States has implemented creative arts therapies much more universally. Nguyen hopes to learn strategies to successfully implementing programs so he can bring his work to Vietnam, but he’s certainly not a newcomer in this space.

During his time abroad, Nguyen successfully implemented emotional intelligence programs for kindergarten-aged children in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, so he has a bit of confidence his program will work back home.

At the end of the day, Nguyen believes in the power of creative art therapies and hopes to raise awareness of the field. “Art has the power to transfer your imagination and emotions into positive perspectives.” So it’s only a matter of time before teachers in Vietnam are using his techniques.