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Art therapy school moves to Victoria College of Art

It makes sense for art therapists to train in an atmosphere of professional painters, sculptors, photographers, art historians and other creative people. Which is why the B.C.

It makes sense for art therapists to train in an atmosphere of professional painters, sculptors, photographers, art historians and other creative people.

Which is why the B.C. School of Art Therapy is moving into the Victoria College of Art building on Bank Street.

"We have a lot of reasons to do this," said registered art therapist Michelle Winkel, who was born and raised in Ontario but studied art therapy in the United States and worked there for 15 years. She became executive director of the therapy school in June.

"We were looking for some collaborations in the community. We also wanted a reputable place to refer our students who needed prerequisites for good drawing and art instruction. This is really perfect. There is a lot of passion here, and being in an artistic environment is going to stimulate those therapeutic synergies.

"This is a much brighter more energetic space ... with lovely big windows and lots of light."

Winkel said the previous location on Lee Avenue had become too small for the growing school, which has eight instructors and 20 full-time students. Besides diplomas and certificates, it also offers short courses and workshops for anyone wanting to explore art therapy. (www.bcsat.com)

Winkel explained that art therapy is a vehicle to help people expand and improve their quality of life through creativity. Art therapists work in schools, hospitals, community clinics, senior citizens' homes, prisons and mental institutions, to help folks deal with trauma and emotional issues.

They help children deal with abuse and adults cope with disasters. "After hurricane Katrina, a whole band of clinical art therapists from my alma mater, Loyola Marymount University, were down in New Orleans helping."

Victoria College of Art director Peter Such welcomes the move, saying it's good to share space and expenses. "And we hope to gradually integrate some courses in painting and sculpture." Classes at the 35-year-old art college begin Jan. 4 (www.vca.ca).

glitwin@tc.canwest.com