November 14, 2019 | By Claudia St Clair, ATR-BC
Tell us about yourself
After I graduated from The George Washington University with a BA in Psychology and an MA in Art Therapy, a twenty year career unfolded in three states. It began in a private psychiatric hospital in Leesburg, Virginia with adults, adolescents, and children. This was followed by a year- long stint in Maryland working in a maximum security juvenile prison. Later, I spent five years working for the Commonwealth of Virginia with adults at Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute. A move to Ohio provided a wide range of professional experiences. At Toledo Children’s Hospital I work in a medical setting in Pediatrics, including oncology patients. I also provided art therapy on the adolescent psych unit. I was called to hospice work, serving the needs of terminal patients and bereavement and support for their families. Toward the end of my career my focus shifted to providing art therapy at an inner city high school and later at a high school for pregnant girls.
What excites (or inspires) you most about your job right now?
For the past ten years I have studied the programs offered through The Sacred Art of Living Center in Bend, Oregon. I am an Anamcara Apprentice Graduate. These studies have deepened my understanding of the need to address the spiritual pain of the people I serve. This has exponentially broadened my approach to my own life and practice.
Has working with a particular client group shaped your professional focus or specialty? What have you learned from working with these clients?
My richest experiences have come from working with people at end of life. My first patient was only nineteen years old. He taught me to appreciate each moment. The dying at any age have wisdom to share. It’s a blessing and honor to serve patients at a time of sacred passage.
What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing a career in art therapy?
Jump in with both feet! Art Therapy is a journey with more twists and turns than you can imagine! You will be blessed. And YOU will BE a blessing!
What are your hopes for the future of the art therapy profession?
I would love to see an art therapist in EVERY school in the country. I know what a difference it makes on developing children. Imagine what the investment in children would bring in the future!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Take time for your own self care and creativity. Replenish yourself the best way you know how. Make art! Write poetry! Sit outside in nature every chance you get. Your soul needs tending.
“Torn Valise” by Claudia St Clair. Ceramic created under the guidance of Turner Ozdogan.