Melissa Raman Molitor, ATR-BC, LCPC
My academic teaching is currently centered on undergraduate and graduate students who are learning and training to work with people in therapeutic, educational, medical, and community contexts, and artists who are exploring socially-engaged art practice. As a teacher I come from a place of knowing and not-knowing; teaching and learning from my students; experience and humility. My own process of learning, understanding and navigating power, privilege and equity is constantly evolving and ever present in my relationships and work in the community, studio, and classroom. I strive to appreciate how my students’ experiences are situated within race, class, ability and gender dynamics, and view my role in their learning to include guiding and supporting the exploration of their own social situations and experiences and how it informs their work with others.
I aim to identify and ask questions that examine how the concepts surrounding education, therapy and community practice are complex and intertwined with beliefs, practices, and structures that may support the social reproduction of power and inequality. I ask students to reflect on their own histories and experiences and to examine their own biases. I encourage them to explore what it means to work with people and communities, and how art may facilitate social interactions and foster relationships without causing harm. I endeavor to support my students as they absorb theory and translate it into practical application. My goal is to ensure their understanding of the material in order to critique it; to be aware of the limitations they will undoubtedly meet when they are applying for jobs post-graduation in the same systems we teach them to question; and to help them apply their learning in a manner that allows them to do the work that is needed while staying true to their values and effecting change.
Research and Scholarship
My research is centered on the use of art making and personal narrative to explore experiences and identities that exist outside of and in between the norm, and how they inform social art practice through collective art making, participatory art engagement, and public exhibition, in an effort to promote cross-cultural dialogue and collective social action. My focus is on young people and how we do this work in a way that is developmentally informed, culturally relevant, sensitive to emotional and psychological concerns, and trauma-informed. I am currently under contract with Jessica Kingsley Publishing to write a book Building Social, Emotional, and Community Engagement through Art Practice: Art-Based Participatory Approaches to Working with Young People (provisional title) that explores these topics and includes documentation of my work over 20 years with children and families who identify as recent immigrants and refugees, school-based K-5 social-emotional learning programs, and community art practice focused on elevating the visibility and voices of young people who use art to make changes that have both grassroots and global impact.
My teaching philosophy is informed by and inextricably tied to my professional practice and my art practice. The links below will lead you to pages that offer my rationale and application of art therapy, as well as the nature of my art making as context for my teaching philosophy.