Although I am a true advocate for art therapy, mental health, and art education. I sometimes find myself dreading that question we often get when meeting new people… “What do you do for a living?” And well, I try to confidently say, I am an art therapist. (Yes.) I am an art therapist and as those words roll off my tongue and out of my mouth, I hold my breath waiting for a response.
Wondering what will they think? And how will I have to explain and justify my beloved profession! Will I have to say, “No, art therapy isn’t just working with kids.” Or, “No, I can’t read your artwork like a fortune teller.” Or, “No, it’s not just for artists.” Or I get no response, and a quick change to another topic of conversation because (A) they don’t know what that is and don’t want to ask (B) they don’t what to touch the word therapy with a 10 foot pole or (C) they don’t really care at all and would rather me listen as they explain their career to me.
Either way, it is what it is. It’s a judgement. A judgement that is placed on your intelligence, finances, abilities, and even character. So, when I say, I am an art therapist. I can only imagine what people think I am. A woo-woo, creative, disorganized, tree hugging, less than therapist. A therapist that only helps artists, children and older adults. Wrong!
I don’t want to play the victim because I know, art therapists aren’t the only profession that get misunderstood or misrepresented. So, “what can you do when you are feeling misunderstood?”
Right now, in my world I am going to OWN IT. Instead of shying away or feeling like I have to defend, explain or justify myself I am going to start taking ownership of who I am and what I do. It was just the other day that I had the opportunity to take a professional risk. I was approached to create and write a curriculum for art educators to learn more about the art therapy field. Someone got it! They understood rather than questioned my knowledge, expertise and profession and so I owned it. I am Caroline Tye an Art Therapist and I am going share the gift of art therapy to anyone who might listen!!!! HAHA
So now, I challenge you! Think about something that you feel people misunderstand about yourself and figure out how to OWN it! You got this!!!