How Art Therapy Found Me

My journey to art therapy was a winding road and then a final “aha!” moment. I was the recipient of art therapy before I ever realized what it was. Growing up primarily overseas, coupled with the normal angst of adolescence, lead me to rely on art making as a way to cope with, explore and understand my experience. I journaled, collaged, painted and sculpted my way through high school and then went on to take many art classes in college. I saw art as a way of life, but was not certain if it could ever be a way of making a living. After college I went into the world of fashion design, which I enjoyed for several years. Although I didn’t know it at the time, the parts of that work I enjoyed the most were some of the foundations of art therapy- creating, collaborating, and sharing ideas.

I finally came upon the field of art therapy a few years ago when a family member was hospitalized for a long period of time. The months spent at my love one’s bedside, hearing the experiences of the neighboring patients and getting a window into the world of healthcare got me thinking about how I could use art as a tool for healing. After some research I had my big “aha!” moment when I found the incredible field of art therapy.

After a lot of hard work, I graduated with my M.A. in Art Therapy from The George Washington University and have been privileged to work for Tracy’s Kids since May 2011. Often staff and parents will say to me, “You have the best job ever” and I certainly agree!

Another Fateful Journey

While every art therapist has a unique story as to how he or she became interested in the field, there always seems to be at least one similarity – everyone seems to have that seemingly fateful moment or some kind of epiphany that leads to the realization that art therapy embodies two passions into a real job!

In undergraduate school, I experienced that typical identity crisis approaching adulthood, trying to decide who I was going to be and what I was going to do with my life… I found myself regularly glaring at the college form that was going to (at least in my mind) determine my future. I needed to “officially” declare my major… and I had to choose between psychology and studio art. They seemed to be such different fields, but I truly loved them both and could not imagine finding personal satisfaction in a career that focused on only one.

Then, I found my path to art therapy – I majored in studio art and essentially double majored in psychology, perfectly combining my two passions to prepare myself for graduate school.

My interview at the graduate art therapy program at the George Washington University (GW) provided me with another fateful opportunity. I had always wanted to do something in pediatric oncology – a combination of additional interests, children and healthcare. But I knew there was absolutely no way that I would ever have a job providing art therapy in a pediatric oncology setting…

Until I met a graduate student interning at Tracy’s Kids during my interview at GW – I finally knew that my dream job existed and felt that I had truly found my place. I was lucky enough to have my second year graduate school internship with Tracy’s Kids at Children’s National Medical Center. I was then fortunate enough to be able to transition from student intern to full-time employee. It has been a truly wonderful experience that completely validated my fateful journey to the dream job that I could not have ever imagined would actually exist. And now, I get to do something amazing every, single day.