Receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in another country fulfilled a lifelong professional goal. In spring 2017, I spent five weeks in Taiwan, Republic of China, where I provided lectures and workshops at three universities in Taipei City as well as public outreach to professionals in several communities that included travel to areas outside Taipei such as Tainan and Kaohsiung. Chinese Culture University provided a faculty office where I had the opportunity to interact regularly with the faculty and students in both the undergraduate and graduate counseling psychology programs. In addition, I taught in the departments of Educational Psychology and Counseling at Tsin-Hua University and the National Taiwan Normal University. I provided lectures to school counselors and teachers at National Nanke International Experimental High School and worked with the staff of a domestic violence shelter.
My lectures and workshops were on topics related to both art therapy and counseling, and included areas like assessment and treatment of drug and alcohol addiction, sexual addiction, sexual abuse and sexual disorders. Based on audience response and feedback, I believe that Taiwan is a number of years behind the U.S. in recognition of and treatment of addictive illness. Sexual addiction was a topic completely new to a majority of the students and professionals that I met.
While there is considerable interest in art therapy in Taiwan, currently there are no graduate training programs in the country. There is a Taiwan Art Therapy Association (TATA) formed by art therapists who graduated from programs in the U.S. or England. I provided several lectures and a supervision session to TATA and found how much we all have in common in our appreciation for art therapy. I was happy to raise awareness about the benefits of art therapy as a treatment modality for addiction and sexual abuse.
On a personal note, I interacted with a range of students, faculty and professionals from varying backgrounds and found all to be kind, generous and hardworking people, with a reverence for education and knowledge. I was impressed when over 60 graduate counseling students voluntarily attended my 6-hour lecture on a Sunday! At the end, they each stood in line to get their pictures taken with me; this became a common occurrence, as did the many gifts and food items they brought me or left in my office.
Taiwan is a beautiful country. I made many new friends for which I am most appreciative. I visited many interesting temples and other cultural sites and ate the most wonderful food. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity for such an enriching and special personal and professional experience.
By Marie Wilson, PhD, ATR-BC, ATCS, ACS, LPC
Professor, Department of Psychology & Counseling
Coordinator of Art Therapy Programs