After graduating from the Herron School of Art + Design with his master’s degree in art therapy, Shawn Haymaker took a step in a direction that not many people think of doing once they reach this level in their higher education journey. He enrolled at Ivy Tech Indianapolis.

It was a natural next step for Haymaker, though, who sought to open a private art therapy practice. 

“One of the things they don’t teach you when you’re in grad school for counseling and education, however, is how to start and maintain a business,” Haymaker, the owner of S. Haymaker Counseling, LLC, pointed out.

When Haymaker’s wife, employed at Ivy Tech, introduced him to the Garatoni School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, highlighting its benefits for prospective entrepreneurs, he knew it was the place to go in pursuit of opening his private practice.

Why Art Therapy? 

Haymaker, 49, went back to school later in life after, as he describes it, “doing a little bit of college here and doing a little bit of college there.” As someone who has always been drawn to psychology and art courses in school, he was elated to discover the degree path at IU Indianapolis.

“Art has been a fantastic coping skill in my life for managing stress and anxiety,” Haymaker shared. 

While in school, Haymaker volunteered for the Crisis Line at Families First and Ascension St. Vincent Stress Center. After completing his education, he spent two years in the field, culminating in his licensure as a mental health counselor in Indiana and board certification as an art therapist. It was through this experience Haymaker realized just how much of a stigma still surrounds mental health counseling.

“I feel like many clinicians or counselors in the Indianapolis area are mostly talk therapy, which is fine; that helps many people. But I'm trying to bring in a more authentic art therapy experience to our community, where we're using the art supplies to talk about what's going on and to help with healing journeys, whether that be grief, trauma, loss, anxiety, or depression,” Haymaker said. 

Haymaker is dedicated to educating the public on the normalcy of all emotions. 

"There are no bad feelings," he asserts, countering the stigma that often surrounds mental health discussions. His therapeutic approach involves practical exercises like working with clay or creating vision boards to help clients express and understand their feelings in a healthy, constructive manner.

“One of my favorites is scribbling on paper, ripping it up, and then piecing it back together,” Haymaker shared. “Working with clay by punching and pounding the clay gets the emotion and anger out.”

Blending Art & Business at Ivy Tech 

The decision to join Ivy Tech’s entrepreneurship program was influenced by a desire to learn the business aspects of running a private practice, an area not covered in his previous educational pursuits.

The entrepreneurship program is teaching Haymaker the essentials of starting up and efficiently managing a business. While in the program, he appreciates the practical skills being taught, such as pitching a business idea quickly and concisely, leveraging technology for marketing strategies, and making a business plan that will see him through not just the start-up phase but into the future. 

“Learning how to define what I do in three to five words has been extremely helpful. When I just meet somebody, and I only have a few minutes to explain what art therapy is and what I do, I now can do that succinctly,” Haymaker said, emphasizing the application of these skills to online platforms like Psychology Today and Mental Health Match, where therapists connect with potential clients.

Haymaker is now taking clients in Broad Ripple, where he passionately works to enrich Indianapolis' therapeutic landscape.

Haymaker’s vision for his business includes expanding his practice into a larger, more equipped art studio where he can offer a broader range of artistic experiences, from working with clay to utilizing a kiln. He dreams of a space that not only fosters creativity but also aids in healing journeys. 

“Art therapy is about the process of the artistic experience and not the product. Literally, stick figures are fine,” Haymaker said, emphasizing that people do not need to be artists to take art therapy. “Anyone can find solutions inside the artistic space.” 

Haymaker's innovative approach to education, therapy, and business exemplifies the potential for interdisciplinary integration to enhance the reach of therapeutic practices. His story is not just about professional growth but also about a personal mission to foster healing and understanding through the power of art.

Haymaker is currently accepting new clients. You can learn more about his practice at If you of someone you know who is interested in learning how to be your own boss, visit the entrepreneurship page at

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.