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Student Spotlight

Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology & Expressive Arts Therapy Program (MA) Program

Student Spotlight

MSPP first year Counseling Psychology & Expressive Arts Therapy student Leana Pilet is finishing her practicum experience at Cohannet Academy on a high note. On May 22, 2014, residents of Cohannet Academy will be performing at Citi Performing Arts Center's Wang Theatre in Boston through Express Yourself, a program focused on helping young people learn to express themselves in healthy, positive ways using a variety of creative means. Excitingly, Leana will be performing alongside the residents, staff and clinicians with whom she has been working throughout the school year.

Cohannet Academy, which is located in the Taunton State Hospital, is an Intensive Residential Treatment Program for adolescent girls, ages 13-18, specializing in trauma informed care. Their residents are referred through the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. The academy specializes in providing hope and opportunity to children and adults whose physical, emotional, or learning-related disabilities require innovative and specialized support and treatment. Leana has been working with the academy since September, and loves working with the residents and staff of the program. "Everyone there is extremely supportive of each other, and you can easily talk to any staff and they will help you."

The upcoming program utilizes performance as a way to teach healthy means of expression. Using the arts as a form of therapy is nothing new to Leana. In her expressive arts classes, she is able to integrate the theory and practice of the program through experience working with fellow students. "There are people in my program who paint and draw like I do, but our processes are different. It helps demonstrate that every client is an individual. The thing about expressive arts is you're not looking at their art from what you think it is, you're understanding how they view it, what attracts them to do it."

Further, Leana finds that her classes in her field are not only interesting, but reviving. "When I'm stressed out throughout the school year, my expressive arts classes are always the ones that bring me back down and give me what I need." Leana is currently starting Summer school, after completing her first year at MSPP, and is on track to graduate next spring.

One of the aspects that Leana is most excited about is the ability for the residents to all participate in the program, despite being at different levels of skill. "That's what I like about the expressive arts; you don't have to be a master at dancing, you don't have to be a master at singing. You're able to express yourself to the extent that you want to do." "In general, there's always a story behind things we do and there's always some alternative meaning and I think that you can really learn about it through the arts."

The Express Yourself 20th annual anniversary performance will be held at Citi Performing Arts Center's Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont Street in Boston, May 22, 2014 at 7:00 pm with doors opening at 6:30 pm. Admission is free, though donations are welcome. For more information, visit or email

Updated 5/21/14

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