I guess people can tell I really like my job, and that I'm happy, because I regularly receive inquires from persons interested in a career in art therapy and counseling.
I try to meet this need by hosting an "Art Therapy Seminar" on the first Tuesday evening of the month where I lead a group discussion about the requirements needed to become an Art Therapist Registered, answer any related questions, and facilitate an art therapy experiential. The experiential is an important component in that it allows participants to feel what it is like to be creative in a therapeutic setting and with others as a witness. The Art Therapy Seminar is a terrific resource if you live in the Denver Metro area, but I often receive inquires from out of state ... California, New Jersey, it's kind of amazing really. So, I thought it might be helpful for those interested in a career in as an Art Therapist and searching the Internet for said information, if I created a blog post answering some of the frequently asked questions I receive about the work that I do.
• What is satisfying about your work?
Authentically connecting with other people and helping them resolve conflicts, find meaning, or safely express feelings.
• How did you become interested in this line of work?
In college at the University of Kansas, I studied Fine Arts. I found that art making expressed my feelings and truth in a way that words could not. I stumbled upon Pat Allen’s book “Art is a Way of Knowing” and began learning about art therapy. When this happened, something clicked for me.
I still make work in this manner. Often, I will try out art therapy interventions or directives on myself before sharing them with clients. This helps me to better understand both the process of working with certain materials and to understand feelings and thoughts that might come up for a person when following a particular art therapy directive. The above image is a work in progress that is based on the art therapy directive "Draw the Door To your Inner Self".
• What was the progression from when you decided you were interested in your work to now?
When I began my graduate training at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2003, I did not like all of the paperwork and licensing requirements – but now I feel they are important in that they protect the public and ensure that only trained professionals can provide art therapy and professional counseling services.
• What’s a typical day like?
Wake up between 5:30- 6:00am. Exercise (good self-care!!). Breakfast.
Arrive at the office around 9:00-9:30am. Meet with approx. 4-6 clients a day at various times, return phone calls, emails, submit claims to insurance companies. Brainstorm on appropriate interventions for current client concerns. Talk with attorney's and collateral professionals, as more and more I am focusing my practice on divorce and separation related concerns.
Lunch around 12:00pm. Maybe a mid-day walk to the coffee shop.
Document all clinical contacts in HIPPA compliant format. Last appointment usually ends anywhere between 6pm – 8pm. Go home, unwind and go to sleep around 10:00pm.
• What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?
When clients have experienced really difficult circumstances like trauma or loss, or are really upset or in a high conflict situation with a family member, it is difficult to be both empathetic and maintain objective distance. I would say it is good to have any understanding of what clients feel, but perhaps not to feel that way yourself, which can be hard sometimes.
• Did you always want to do this type of work?
Since I was 20 years old – yes! Before that I wanted to be an art teacher or a veterinarian.
• What are your future plans?
I would love to get my Doctoral Degree (PsyD or PhD) in Art Therapy or Clinical Psychology.
Hope that helps, future art therapy professionals! If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask them in the comment section.