Behind Art for Mental Wellness

Blending art, museums, decorative arts, and psychotherapy

Name, Title

Meet Susan Ward, MA, MS, LCMHC

Blending art and mental wellness

Susan has a unique background in museums and mental health. Her MA is in Museum Studies/Decorative Arts and her MS is in Mental Health Counseling.

In her first career, she was curator of Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina, then founded Heritage Communications, a museum consulting business emphasizing the visitor experience. Later, she became an LCMHC (Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor) working with individuals and families facing challenges due to grief, difficult life transitions, or early childhood trauma that results in anxiety, depression, low self esteem, anger, and difficulties connecting with others. 

While she's a practicing psychotherapist, she also teaches online art and mental wellness classes. These mini art history and decorative arts classes nourish the soul and foster mental wellness. 

As a mental wellness advocate, Susan says, "We've all become overly focused on what's wrong with someone's mental health. We need to shift and focus on teaching ways to build the positive aspects of mental wellness and emotional resilience. Art in all forms is an ideal vehicle for doing that!"

 

Susan also consults with small and mid-size museums and cultural organizations to help them integrate mental wellness strategies into their visitor experience. When working with cultural organizations, she guides them to build opportunities for visitors to feel connected, inspired, and resilient, all critical to individual and community mental wellness. 

Presented
Stepping into Mental Wellness: New Social Awareness for Museums
at the
Small Museums Association Annual Conference
February 2020

In Susan's wandering years, she was...

-A ski bum in Colorado

-A nanny in London

-Housekeeper to a priest in Sydney, Australia