“In doing this (APSU) graduate program, I have really seen how effective it can be incorporating art, or really any type of creative therapy, to help change people’s perceptions about where they are in their lives.”
Major: Graduate, Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Hometown: Mt. Juliet, Tennessee
Involvement: CSA ceramics instructor, APSU Counseling Program Advisory Board, APSU Keys to the
World Student Poster presenter, TLPCA and TNAMFT Counseling and Therapy Summit Student
Melody Shipley, a ceramics artist, planned to focus on her pottery full-time, but then in 2015, she went horseback riding. It was something she did often on her family farm, but that afternoon Shipley ended up on ground, twisting her back and dislocated a rib.
“It really affected my ability to make pottery because my back was so injured,” she said. “For a year, I couldn’t do things the way I used to, and I realized my plan of doing pottery full-time wasn’t going to happen.”
For the last few years, Shipley has taught pottery classes for Austin Peay State University’s Community School for the Arts, and she remembered her students saying her class felt like a form of therapy. With her ceramics career on hold, she decided to delve deeper into this idea of combining art with therapy by enrolling in Austin Peay’s clinical mental health counselling graduate program.
Last September, Shipley and her husband, retired APSU art professor Ken Shipley, combined her two interests with a special community art project, “Honoring 9/11 through Art and Art Therapy.”
Through that program, veterans and families affected by the Sept. 11 2001, terrorist attacks and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, created works of art honoring and remembering their family members. These works were later displayed at Austin Peay’s Woodward Library.
A year after that project, Shipley presented her work at the Association for Creativity in Counseling’s (ACC) Annual Conference in Clearwater, Florida. During the event’s award ceremony, she received the association’s national graduate student award.
That award, according to the ACC website, “recognizes an outstanding ACC graduate student member at the master's or doctoral level who has participated in promoting creative, diverse, and relational approaches to counseling or whose scholarship promotes creative, diverse, and relational expression in counseling.”
The Austin Peay grad student has fully recovered from her horseback riding injury, allowing her to pursue pottery once again, but she plans to continue incorporating her passion for art with her new love of counseling.
“In doing this graduate program, I have really seen how effective it can be incorporating art, or really any type of creative therapy, to help change people’s perceptions about where they are in their lives,” she said.