Pence formally unveiled her "Art Therapy: Healing with the HeART" policy platform and outlined goals for her work as second lady while speaking in Tallahassee, Florida, at Florida State University, which offers a Masters of Science in art therapy.
"By coming to Florida State University, [Pence] is shining a light on what I believe-obviously I'm a little biased-is one of the best art therapy programs in America".
She provided anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of art therapy, telling the audience her experiences and observations from meeting those who've participated in the unique healing process. (Program information can be found at arttherapy.org.) Art therapists enter the profession with a Master's degree and more than 700 hours of clinical experience. "Second lady Mrs. Karen Pence's initiative is a gift to all Americans and will enrich the profession so that more people can be helped and more lives can be improved by the power of art therapy".
Ann Scott, First Lady of Florida, joined Mrs. Pence for the announcement along with John Thrasher, FSU President; Dr. Donna Betts, President of the American Art Therapy Association; Dr. Sara M. Kass, Retired Navy Captain, and Senior Military and Medical Advisor to Creative Forces: The NEA/Military Healing Arts Network; and Dr. Dave Gussak, Chair of FSU's Department of Art Education, which houses FSU's Art Therapy program.
She emphasized how art therapy can help struggling teens, grieving families, to those with autism, eating disorders, or PTSD. She is also starting a blog on whitehouse.gov about her visits to spread the word. "That makes this an exciting time for anyone who has the skill, interest, and dedication that it takes to pursue a career in Art Therapy".
Pence has also made art therapy a hallmark of her trips overseas with her husband, Vice President Mike Pence, visiting art therapy programs in South America, Asia, Australia and Eastern Europe.
"I am not an art therapist", she said.
She emphatically stated: "I am not an art therapist".
Her goal is to educate the public about art therapy as a "mental health profession, and not arts and crafts", with benefits for many people.
The specific role FSU will hold in this initiative wasn't discussed in detail, but lauding the university's program and students was a common thread between the speakers.
"We are honored to help Mrs. Pence launch her efforts raising awareness of the power and value of art therapy", said Sally McRorie, Florida State University Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.
"I am inspired by the FSU students in this room who are studying to become art therapists and I applaud you for your commitment to a life-changing profession", Pence told the crowd.
The Trump administration event was relatively quiet, especially when compared to Trump's visit to Tallahassee previous year. The university says its innovative art therapy program integrates diverse theories and research-informed practices to foster culturally sensitive graduates who understand and apply the power of the visual arts and therapeutic relationships to promote personal and community wellness.
Vice President Pence will travel to Orlando Nov. 2 to be a keynote speaker at a state GOP fundraising event.