Washington, Feb 17 (AP) Karen Pence wants people to know that art therapy isn’t exactly arts and crafts.Also Read - Omicron Response: List of Countries That Have Put Travel Restrictions To African Nations

The wife of Vice President Mike Pence has been a passionate advocate of art therapy for many years, including during her service as first lady of Indiana. Also Read - FIH Junior Hockey World Cup: India Bounce Back in Style, Thrash Canada 13-1

Now, she hopes to use her new and loftier public profile to raise awareness of the mental health profession and help change the public’s perceptions about what art therapists actually do. Also Read - Rare Idol of Goddess Annapurna Stolen 100 Years Ago Retrieved, To be Installed at Varanasi's Kashi Vishwanath Temple | Watch

“They can do things that help the patient have a little more control,” Mrs. Pence told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.

Art therapists use art, the creative process and the artwork patients create to help them explore feelings, resolve emotional conflicts, manage behavior and addictions, reduce anxiety and boost self-esteem, among other benefits, according to the American Art Therapy Association.

A main goal is to improve or restore a patient’s functioning and sense of personal well-being.

Mrs Pence, an artist whose specialty is painting watercolors of homes and historical buildings, plans to observe European art therapy programs when she accompanies her husband to Germany and Belgium today, his first overseas trip since taking office on January 20.

She is scheduled to speak with art therapists in Munich and visit an art therapy program in Brussels.

As Indiana’s first lady from January 2013 until last month, Mrs. Pence visited art therapy programs across the state, as well as in Israel, Canada, Japan and Germany.

The field is growing, but is not well understood, she said. The American Art Therapy Association says it represents more than 5,000 professional art therapists and others related to the profession.

“One thing I can bring to this as second lady is making people aware of what art therapy is and how it works,” Mrs Pence said. “It’s not arts and crafts.” (AP) KJ

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.