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Heartside Ministry introduces new art therapy program

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A 12 week art therapy program is being offered by two professional art therapists in Grand Rapids.
Jess Kimmel and Leara Glinzak

Jess Kimmel and Leara Glinzak /Courtesy of Heartside Ministries

Underwriting support from:

Bios of Art Therapists

Leara’s Bio

Leara Glinzak, MSAT has a Master's Degree in Science in Art Therapy with a Concentration in Counseling and has finished her supervision for her ATR. She is in private practice at I LIGHT LLC in Grand Rapids, MI. She is also a Therapist, conducting group sessions for several companies and organizations including in the greater Grand Rapids area. Her research has been published in the peer review Journal of the American Art Therapy Association and she has presented nationally and locally. You can reach her at 616-648-7481 or

Jess’s Bio

Jess Kimmel, MSAT LLPC has always had a passion for art and when she discovered art therapy it just made sense. She serves as Art Therapist for Sanford House. Jess has a B.S in Psychology and an M.S. in Art Therapy. Art therapy allows her creativity to shine through her work and she thrives on seeing the confidence grow in the individuals she works with at Sanford House. Jess is from Hartland, Michigan and currently lives in Grand Rapids. She loves abstract painting, figure drawing and all facets of the art therapy process...

/Courtesy of Heartside Ministries

Art therapy program at Heartside Ministry

Art therapy program at Heartside Ministry /Courtesy of Heartside Ministry

Imagine a place where you can bring your authentic stories, the pain, hurt, joys and distress without any judgment.

A place where you are safe to share your struggles, past and present and you are able to process your stories to grow and live a healthier version of yourself.  

A place where you may not even be able to talk about what is going on and can still receive the help you need.

A place where you are validated and when you are feeling lost can receive professional help through creativity.

Heartside Ministry’s Art Therapy program offers such a place.

Art Therapist, Leara Glinzak, led a 12-week Art Therapy Group at Hearthside Ministry. One participant offers her story through her art and artist statement to share her experience. She describes the Art Therapy program as a place to have expression that focuses on emotional health rather than the final art product. She shared it helped her to be at a better place in her life. Visually, you can see her growth throughout the 12 weeks of the program:

The bottom left is where this participant reflected on her own self-image which was done at the beginning of the program. As the program continued she created a self-image with words categorizing different pieces of her as an image from other’s points of view. The top image is this participant’s goal, where she would like to see herself. This image she explained is an image of a strong woman and one she admired. The image on the bottom right is her self-image towards the end of the program. Visually she grew in her self-identify, confidence and is closer to the person she wants to become and most importantly seeing herself in a more positive way as compared to the first image. She now sees herself as a stronger person where she can live a life where there can be joy and sadness along with resiliency.

By the time the program was completed, this participant self-reported improvements in several aspects of her life. Some of these include an overall sense of well-being, satisfaction with life, more positive social relationships, physically felt healthier and felt she was in a more frequent better mood.

Who are the Art Therapists?

A 12-week Art Therapy program is being offered by two professional Art Therapists in Grand Rapids, Leara Glinzak and Jess Kimmel. Both ladies have a Master of Science in Art Therapy with a concentration in Counseling and meet the accreditation standards to practice as Art Therapists according to the American Art Therapy Association. To practice as Art Therapists these ladies have a background in human development, psychological theories, art and creative processing in order to guide someone through a visual process to meet specific goals in group therapy. Leara has done the 12 week program at Heartside Ministries and together these two Art Therapists are combining their backgrounds to best meet the group’s needs.

What is Art Therapy?

According to the American Art Therapy Association, (2017) the definition is as stated:

“Art Therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.

Art Therapy, facilitated by a professional art therapist, effectively supports personal and relational treatment goals as well as community concerns. Art Therapy is used to improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress, and advance societal and ecological change.”

Outline of the Art Therapy program

If you are wondering if you are someone that could benefit from the program some questions that you can consider asking yourself are…

Have I experienced grief or trauma and it is still affecting my life in a negative way?

Do I need to work on positive healthy responses rather than acting out of frustration and anger?

Could I benefit from developing healthier coping skills?

Do I need more resiliencies in my life?

Am I lacking a positive, supportive community in my life?

Do I need to access more creativity in my life when faced with barriers to my own growth and distress?

The program outline goals are as follows:

Weeks 1-4: Community, support and safety

Weeks 5-8: Coping skills and problem solving

Weeks 9-12: Creating resiliency when faced with barriers, working through grief and trauma

Group Format:

This is a closed group for 1.5 hours of time which include an Art Therapy directive and all materials will be provided. A common misconception is that you need to be in Artist to participate. The truth is Art Therapy requires no artistic skill. Rather than focusing on the art product Art Therapy is emphasized through the process. This group will take place in the Chapel of Heartside Ministries on Wednesdays October 17, 2018-December 19, 2018 from 1pm-3pm.

If you’re interested you can contact Johannah Jelks at: [email protected]

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