The American Art Therapy Association represents a diversity of professionals, students, and organizations across the nation. We recognize and celebrate the work of our members at all levels through our Featured Member series.
February 10, 2022
What excites you most about your job right now?
I’m currently working as an art therapy intern for Sanctuary for Families, which is New York’s leading service provider and advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence, and also working at a small school as a Kindergarten art teacher. What excites me most about the job that I’m doing in both places, I would say, is having the opportunity to work with the mothers and children and provide a safe space to talk about their concerns. I also provide and develop new workshops for the parents to support their parenting skills, increase the mother self-efficacy, and optimism. Both places gave me the opportunity to grow in my career and give back to the community.
Has working with a particular client group shaped your professional focus or specialty? What have you learned from working with these clients?
As a previous art teacher, I was surprised how much I actually enjoy my work with the mothers instead of my usual population. Seeing their strength and perseverance those hard conditions is inspiring and beautiful. It definitely has shaped my focus on the future to integrate art therapy as a way to normalize the challenges of parenting and help families to reconnect.
How has your role changed as an art therapist (or remained the same) during the COVID-19 pandemic?
My role as an art therapist has remained the same because I’m working completely virtual, but comparing it with my in-person job at the school, it has been definitely challenging creating solutions to engage my young clients in the art directives.
How have race, diversity, and/or social justice impacted your work as an art therapist (or art therapy student)?
As an Afro-Caribbean art therapy student, it is wonderful to see that I can bring a representation to the art therapy community and serve as inspiration to my current client and the ones in the future.
What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing a career in art therapy? Or, is there something you would like to share about your journey thus far as an art therapist?
My advice to any future person interested in pursuing a career in art therapy would be to always come to the space of love, curiosity, and empathy. Love yourself and the job you do, have the curiosity to learn without judgment and have empathy for the people you will serve. Lastly, and something I want to share that I have learned on the job is that the client is the expert of his experience and we are here to support their journey.
Keren Arroyo is originally from Puerto Rico, graduated from the University of PR with a Bachelor of Humanities in Fine Arts, and Art Education in printmaking, and a minor in Chinese. Keren has been involved in teaching in her hometown where she was in charge of the art program of the Children Museum at Carolina for 2 years. This art program was primarily for children of low income and seven years teaching and creating the K-12 art program in several arts disciplines. Later, she moved to Buffalo, where she spent two years working with early education, first as a Lead Teacher for toddlers and later as a Director of the Head Start program. This exposure to early childhood education inspired her to pursue a Master of Professional Studies in Art Therapy at Pratt Institute. Finally, she moved to Ithaca in 2020, completed two certifications in Montessori education, one of which is teaching Art in a Montessori Curriculum. Currently, the kindergarten art teacher is providing a new art experience to children, combining her knowledge of traditional education and the therapeutic benefit of art therapy in the classroom, while at the same time working on her virtual internship at Sanctuary for Family as an art therapist intern.