News & Events

Message from Student Services


Dear Idyllwild Arts Community,

As a Summer Program alum, Idyllwild Arts has a special place in my heart. My experience as a camper was transformative and positively influenced my life trajectory. Returning to campus now to start my new position as Dean of Students, I am committed to making sure every new and returning student is well supported, so that they can have the most inspiring and joyful experience possible. 

I want to take this opportunity to share some changes taking place related to Counseling Services, a department I oversee. In recent years there has been an increased need for mental health services, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when health care services were overtaxed and individuals worldwide experienced an extraordinary period of isolation in their homes. Like many other schools and institutions, Idyllwild Arts was tasked with providing enhanced in-house mental health services while incorporating telehealth services as part of their counseling support system for students. 

As we begin the 2022-2023 school year with a renewed sense of optimism for a joyful post-pandemic reemergence, we remain committed to raising awareness about mental health and supporting our students and their families. To accomplish this, we have outlined a new Vision for Counseling Services, grounding ourselves in a more traditional model of short-term counseling that will be both effective and sustainable. 

2022-2023 Vision for Counseling Services

The Idyllwild Arts Wellness Center, as supervised by the Dean of Students in collaboration with the Director of Counseling Services, supports the mental health needs of all students in our programs within the boundaries of a school counseling model. 

Individual counseling is offered as short term (a maximum of six visits), in one-on-one sessions dealing with a wide range of personal concerns including issues such as:

  • Adjustment
  • Stress Management
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relationship Concerns

Our Counseling Office services also include:

  • Crisis intervention related to mental health
  • Developing, hosting, and facilitating small group sessions that center on a shared issue or problem
  • Organizing and planning mental health awareness events and training;
  • Case management and coordination with students’ off campus mental health care providers
  • Assisting in making referrals for more in depth long-term mental health services outside of school, as well as for educational and/or psychological assessments (note: the student and his/her/their family will be financially responsible for such services)
  • Managing student departures that emerge from mental health issues
  • Managing student returns to campus that involve mental health concerns

We are pleased to welcome new Wellness Center staff members who will work in collaboration with IAA leadership to move this vision forward. All Counseling Services are provided under a policy of strict confidentiality except where personal safety is concerned. If our counseling staff recognize that a higher level of care is needed than what can be provided, the Counselor will initiate appropriate steps. 


Julie Anne Steiger, LCSW

Director of Counseling Services

“I am honored to be returning to Idyllwild Arts Academy as Director of Counseling Services. I come to IAA as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Somatic Psychotherapist, and Clinical Supervisor who has deep roots in the Idyllwild community. I received a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Washington State University followed by a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Washington. I previously worked at IAA as a School Counselor for four years and found this time to be enriching on countless levels. During this period, I also ran a private practice in Idyllwild, Calm and Ground Counseling, and was able to develop a strong network of support for mental health needs in the surrounding area. With this existing network, I look forward to helping students to connect to and draw upon invaluable local resources. Additionally, I am a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and aim to infuse the nervous system lens into our programs and offerings at IAA. I appreciate systemic thinking, holistic wellness approaches, and am a passionate advocate for socially just, anti-oppressive paradigms. On a more personal note, I have a deep love for music, animals, expressive arts, nature, and travel. I am the grateful mother of an exuberant 14-month-old, Allison. As a parent myself, I know the incredible trust that is being extended to our team and a primary goal of mine is to be a support for parents, with an emphasis on open communication. I truly look forward to getting to know each student on campus and to observing the types of groups or classes that will increase the overall wellbeing of our student body. As an artist myself, I bring an empathy and understanding for the creative spirit as well as for the unique gifts and challenges that this inherently brings. In my years at IAA, witnessing students grow and evolve in their creative expression has been the privilege of a lifetime and I am beyond joyous to return to this inspirational, one of a kind atmosphere.”


Kelly Lovejoy, ACSW


“I will be serving in the Wellness Center as an Associate Clinical Social Worker and school counselor. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from San Francisco State University and a Master in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach. It is my dream and honor to share tools, wellness, support, and community with students, staff, faculty, and parents throughout the school year. I have lived in Idyllwild for a year and utilize this picturesque landscape for grounding, calm, and inspiration. I combine mindfulness, art, and movement to support mental health and create joy with those I serve. It is my absolute privilege to spend this school year supporting students as they evolve and grow in a safe and warm environment at IAA.”


Cary Normile Sellers, EdM, MA

Counseling Center Transition Coordinator

“I will be working part-time with the Wellness Center team to coordinate the transition to the exciting new vision of the counseling services available to all students. I have 30+ years experience as a School Counselor in a variety of independent school settings.  I did my undergraduate work in Developmental Psychology at Cornell University, and have two graduate degrees, in Counseling Psychology and Organizational Psychology, from Teacher’s College at Columbia University. Moving to IAA in July from Philadelphia, PA, I am looking forward to working with this vibrant and talented population and enjoying life in these beautiful southern California mountains. I live here on campus, in Krone House, with my husband Craig, who is the Interim Head of School, and our big old dog, Lucy.”


Alexandra Lafata

Administrative Assistant

“I have served as the Administrative Assistant for the IAA Wellness Center since January 2022.  I look forward to continuing to provide support and assistance to our school counselors and our students!  I love the mission of Idyllwild Arts, the wonderful students, the artistic environment, and the beautiful natural surroundings!  I am grateful to be living and working in Idyllwild.”



I hope you find this information helpful. If you would like to reference our more recent policies, you are invited to review the section in the Parent Student Handbook entitled Counseling and Mental Health Services for Students, found on Page 34. I am thrilled to return home to Idyllwild Arts, and look forward to helping make 2022-2023 one of the most creative, fun, meaningful, and memorable years in our rich history! 



Eric Bolton, MSW

Dean of Students