My story:I began art journaling as a way of processing the emotionally charged material I was dealing with while studying art therapy in graduate school. I had aspired to be an art therapist from about middle school on, but I had been discouraged due to the fact that I was “too sensitive” and would not be able to separate my work-life from my home-life. For many years I believed that, but after having my world turned upside-down, I decided that I needed to make those decisions for myself and that I could be an art therapist. That being said, when I was accepted into the program at SIUE, I became fearful that maybe I was too sensitive. As I began studying my new profession, I found comfort in the idea of boundaries with clients, and eventually with the idea of self-care. It was a new concept for me. The thought of taking care of myself so that I could take care of others had never crossed my mind.
That began my initial interest in self-care, and I began my journey to prove to those that doubted me that I could be a successful art therapist, sensitivity and all. I began studying types of self-care, why it was important and the idea of compassion fatigue. It was all very fascinating to me. I knew that clients would affect me because I was sensitive, but the idea that all therapists can be affected by their clients was a new concept. Knowing that compassion fatigue existed normalized my fear of becoming overwhelmed with my clients’ emotions. Along with my new discovery of compassion fatigue and self-care, I was using art making in a completely foreign and exciting new way. I began making responses to articles in class, I began making art responses to all sorts of feelings, and sometimes made art that revealed feelings I didn’t even know I had. During the Summer and Fall of 2008 I began to utilize art journaling as a way of responding to my practicum experience.
From that point I was hooked. I art journaled daily. First it started as a self-care discipline, and now it has turned into something more. I now make art with my partner once a week as a way to strengthen our bond; I keep my self care journal; I facilitate groups on art journaling for pregnancy; I wrote my thesis on art journaling; I participate in round robins and collaborative journals; and at any given time, may have 5 different art journals that I am working on.
I hope that you find art journaling to be as invigorating as I do!