We Love Our Grads: Thilini Abeygunaratne ‘18, Marital and Family Therapy

With graduation upon us, we spoke to some of CFA’s talented #LMU18 graduates as they gear up to leave LMU and take on the world. In our We Love Our Grads series, we asked a graduating student from each of our departments to share some words about their time here, as well as their plans for the future.

Thilini Abeygunaratne ‘18
Program: Marital and Family Therapy
Next step: Art Therapist with Inland Empire Department of Mental Health

How did you decide to pursue art therapy?

As undergraduate, I decided to get my BA in studio art because art-making had always been a passion of mine, but I found myself having trouble discovering what type of career I might like to pursue. I spent a few years doing odd jobs and trying to find something in the arts. During that time, I had my own experiences with therapy and discovered the field of art therapy. I was interested in this field, and so began taking some psychology prerequisites. This time was as much about learning about myself as learning about the field of psychology. I worked in behavioral health and at a mental health hospital while talking classes in psychology and getting my application together and realized how good of a fit this program would be.

Tell us a little about your time at LMU.

My time at LMU has been life-changing thanks to my cohort and department faculty. I am very grateful to have a community of like-minded individuals to go to for support and friendship. The program has allowed me to work in different traineeships with adolescents and adults dealing with addiction. We were also able to work in an elementary school and juvenile hall as part of a class.

Last summer I studied abroad with some of my cohort in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It was a beautiful experience sharing the classroom with Mexican Art Therapists from our sister school and working with them for a week in the community. For both of my years in this program I was able to be a graduate assistant to department faculty, which was a great opportunity to learn more about both gallery spaces and the department.

What are your post-graduation plans?

I plan to work in the Inland Empire at a Department of Mental Health agency. I was lucky enough to receive a county stipend for MFT graduates, and as part of that stipend agreement I have the opportunity to work for a DMH agency for a year. Thankfully the department, particularly the practicum coordinator Kathleen Fogel-Richmond, helps students to pursue these stipends, and quite a few of my classmates were recipients as well.

What will you miss most about LMU?

I will miss the community aspect of this program and having the opportunity to interact with so many people who I have come to love, on a regular basis. I hope to keep as many of them as I can in my life and am grateful for the experience that we have shared.

Pictured above: Thilini while participating in the MFTH program in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Thilini Abeygunaratne.