Co obtained a Doctorate in Expressive Arts Therapy in 2019 from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Co has been using the Arts to foster individual and community wellbeing in both community-wide and in academic settings her entire career as a social worker, therapist and community organizer. Co has found that Native students in particular, flourish when they engage in hands on learning activities using the arts which has resulted in one’s ability to reconnect and/or deepen one’s cultural knowledge, self-awareness and self-understanding.
Studying Expressive Arts at a doctoral level has encouraged Co to deepen an understanding of arts based interventions, specifically in the context of Native American communities. She has cultivated a deep understanding of Art Based and Indigenous Research methods throughout her doctoral journey. Her doctoral dissertation titled, “The Moccasin Project”, where she used an Indigenous art experience and the stories that emerged as an avenue to define ‘Place-based imagery’ (Carew, 2016) which led to a greater understanding of a ‘sense of place’. Place-based imagery is making or creating meaning of symbols, shapes, colors and designs, related to P-People, L-Land, A-Ancestry, C-Culture, E-Experiences that may foster, awaken and/or deepen one’s connection and understanding of self and a sense of place (Carew, 2019). These particular cultural concepts were understood through a cultural Indigenous lens. Her study will be used in the future to develop specific trauma reduction interventions, augmented by one’s cultural resilience.