Alison Harriot

Alison Harriot

Program / Year

Art Therapy ’20


Oregon City, Oregon

What led you to enroll at Lewis and Clark's Graduate School of Education and Counseling?

We made sure the individuals responsible for our transition from Marylhurst knew WE ALL wanted to be together at Lewis & Clark. They tried to transfer us away from each other, because it was “their duty.” They were trying to lead us to other schools that would be inconvenient for everyone. So, in a nutshell, what led us to Lewis & Clark was our determination.

Who or what inspired you to pursue your chosen field of study?

My story goes back to when I was a junior in high school (mind you I’m only 24 now, so not that long ago). I job shadowed a pediatrician who gave me some pamphlets, because she could tell I wasn’t interested in the medical field. These pamphlets led me to Adam Graves at Marylhurst University. I job shadowed Adam, and was hooked. I have been pursuing art therapy before I graduated high school. I’ve had old pals from high school message me saying how they’ve been wondering if I was still pursuing art therapy, and they were happy to see that I was (and that my program got picked up haha). People remembered that about me, that’s pretty special.

What does social justice mean to you?

Social justice means being patient in helping others think and act more equitably towards others.

How do you hope to apply your social justice education in your chosen career?

I hope to help others really think about their perceptions, without forcing them to change. I’ve found that aggressively arguing for change never results in genuine change. It also makes people close their hearts to you, because they fear being scrutinized for their perceptions.

Where have you been working/interning as a student, and what does that work entail?

Currently, I am at CDM Caregiving Services for practicum. Every week I run two, one hour art groups with clients of varying levels physically, cognitively, and emotionally. My goal is to provide art directives that help clients feel successful and accomplished. Throughout the year I have been working on creating art directives that can meet a variety of needs and facilitate creativity. More recently, I have been asking more cognitive clients what they would like to do for an art directive in group, which has been integrating client’s cultures. This provides a unique space for group cohesion and education and respect for another culture.

What is the most fun part of your program?

My cohort

What is the hardest part of your program?

Probably the pressure to be a professional that has a massive responsibility to care for others. Ethics. In the beginning, self-care was the hardest part. Now, its easier but still work.

How would you describe your graduate school experience in one sentence?

A timeline of growth.

Who has been your most influential professor, and why?

Kris Bella pushes me in a gentle way that really makes me think about the topic. Mary Andrus inspires me to really make a difference in the art therapy community. Greg Crosby, who is not an art therapist, but has been so good at integrating how we learn as art therapists into our curriculum. What a wealth of knowledge in that man! He truly demonstrates how to meet people where they are - person-centered approach.

What is a unique perspective you bring to your cohort?

I bring open-mindedness and I’m very observant.

What career will you be pursuing after graduation? Did you intend for this to be your career path when you enrolled?

Art therapy, duh! Yes, I intended this to be my career path since I was a junior in high school.

Describe an "ah-ha" or "right-turn" moment you have experienced here - a time when your perspective, opinion, outlook, or goals changed suddenly due to a specific experience.

In response to the prompt provided by Kris Bella, list all the populations you could not work with, I realized after creating my list that I did want to work with them, because I wanted to work with Trauma. All populations have some form of trauma, which changed my “not going to work with” list to none.

What do you think of Portland?

I’ve lived here my whole life. I know Portland is hyped up to be some big, inclusive city. In reality, it’s just your average city. Oregonians can be very rude sometimes, most of the time actually, because they don’t like change or outsiders. We value our way of life, and fear outsiders will try and change it. I mean, look at how it’s developed over the last few years. We have a homeless crisis that no one can seem to solve, which is absurd to me. Yes, we have some pretty great food and nightlife, but doesn’t every city? Of course, it’s special to me, because it’s my home, so I don’t mind people moving here. I welcome them, and show them my genuine self and my culture’s values so they respect them.