Discussing drama therapy and the importance of representation
Although the hours have yet to be finalized, students can now access creative arts therapy with J. Todd Hunter at the Wellness Centre from around 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.on Mondays. Hunter offers drop-in sessions, along with full 50-minute sessions. Hunter was an actor originally from the U.S., but his passion for social justice issues led him to pursue a master’s degree in urban sustainability and later, a master’s in creative arts therapy in Montreal.
Hunter explains that drama therapy allows people to “discover a new way of exploring old problems, and to come up with new answers and new solutions.” Hunter considers drama therapy to be gentle and self-led, which allows people to engage in talk therapy through the process of embodying a character and role-playing. Role-playing can consist of people thinking of how they would handle situations from an outsider’s perspective.
Creative arts therapy serves as a unique way to confront problems that, Hunter says, “can be overwhelming and stressing.”
Hunter discusses the importance of destigmatizing accessing mental health resources: “It’s okay, we all need support.” He encourages students to take advantage of the various resources that the Wellness Centre provides, especially because students “put so much pressure on themselves to perform extremely well.” Students should feel as though they can access a safe space, and sometimes our family and friends are not able to provide the support and safe spaces that we need, explains Hunter.
Hunter says that he pursued a career in mental health because people of color are underrepresented in this field. “I want to be present for the people who think they’re not seen,” Hunter says. He continues by explaining the importance of representation, and that the university should connect with “the student population in all of its wonderful, glorious diversity.”
“Come as you are” is a pitch that Hunter reminds everyone accessing his services. Hunter explains how he hopes to provide representation to people of color and the LGBTQ+ community because of his own experiences with intersectionality. He continues by saying that if he is not able to provide a sense of representation, then he always aims to provide a safe space.
Across the Maritimes, representation is lacking, especially within healthcare. Hunter says, “we need to see reflection in these healthcare environments, and it has to address every population that exists.”