Another art therapist is born

 I loved art as a little kid and I have many happy memories of standing at the easel painting outside on my front lawn.  My mother had found that parking me on the lawn was an easy way to lessen the amount of clean-up from my painting projects.  Streaks of paint are actually still visible on some of the rocks on my parents’ hill from those warm summer days.

 I was however, educated in a public school setting where I got to attend art class once a week throughout elementary school.  After the age of ten, you had to choose what your elective arts class would be and you only got one; because I played the flute I always ended up taking band.  After I left the 5th grade I never got to take another art class again and art kind of fell to the wayside and became a hobby that I loved and enjoyed, but rarely had time for. 

 When I went to college I majored in Literature because I love to read and I have always enjoyed writing creatively.  While I was there I was required to take an arts class for one of my core education class requirements.  I enthusiastically signed up for a painting class.  Right before I started the class my boyfriend of the time, who I had been with for the past 3 years, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  I remember tearing up on the first day of class when we did a round-robin introduction and had to mention something that was important in our lives.  That painting class became a wonderful relaxing refuge for me.  I could go there and just enjoy the feeling of the brush on the canvas or re-working a certain portion of the piece again and again.  I remembered the joy that I had experienced as a small child painting on my front lawn and once again I became enamored with making art.  I signed up for another art class every semester after that and I ended up minoring in art.        

 Then I graduated from college and came to the shocking realization that I would actually have to somehow support my self with a degree in Literature.  I began doing temp work, where they actually made me sit in the supply closet and do data entry because there were not enough desks in the office.  I actually used to beg to be given stapling and filing assignments.  Anyways, after only a few months I snagged a job working as a behavioral therapist with preschoolers with autism. 

 I loved a lot about the time I spent at work and I found the children to be truly enjoyable to be around.  But I didn’t really like the strictness of behavioral therapy and I kept wondering if there was a way that I could be doing something more creative with the kids.  Maybe I should be an art teacher at a special education school I thought.  One of the kids I worked with was a very high functioning little boy who was terrified of hair cuts.  He would scream and tantrum in the chair until it was nearly impossible to go anywhere near him with scissors.  I worked with him and we made a little puppet version of himself with long hair.  Then, he got to cut the puppet’s hair again and again.  When his mom took him in to get his hair cut at the end of the week, he didn’t cry or fuss at all.  He remembered from his puppet that everything would be ok. 

 After this experience I was talking on the phone to my mother and she began telling me that she had read this really interesting article on a thing called art therapy and that she thought it would be a really good fit for me.  I got off the phone and started looking into art therapy schools and the rest is history. 

 I went to school for art therapy inNew York Cityat Pratt Institute and worked in the city for another year afterwards in preventive services for child welfare.  But the home visits and numerous hours of documentation took a heavy toll on me and after 6 months I started looking around for other job opportunities.  When I came to Children’sNationalMedicalCenterin the spring of 2008 and interviewed for the art therapy position withTracy’s Kids, I immediately felt at ease and I knew that I had finally found a position that was a good fit for me.  I never cease to be amazed by the kids here and I am grateful every day to have found this job that I find both enjoyable and extremely rewarding.

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