Appreciating an Aspiring Art Therapist

Future art therapist Chloe Dougherty spends most of her days in the laundry room on the fourth floor of Freeman hall, a spot right by her dorm that is big enough to spread out her canvases and paints.

“I think a lot of people underestimate the amount of work that goes into being an art major,” sophomore student Chloe Dougherty said, who was working on one of the several projects due this week.

Dougherty is working towards a Bachelor’s degree of Visual Arts in school and community settings as well as a psychology minor. In order to become a practicing art therapist, she then must complete two years of graduate school and pass the LCAT (Licensed Certified Art Therapist).

Chloe Dougherty posing in front of her drawing at an interactive exhibit at Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum. Credit: Kerianne Vianden

“When people ask me what my major is, I simplify it and tell them I am an art major with a specialization in painting. A lot of people don’t get it, and assume that I want to be an artist for a living,” Dougherty said. “My dad wasn’t even supportive at first.”

The Montclair State student began her freshman year with the intention of becoming an art teacher, but decided to pursue a psychology degree second semester instead. Still not feeling confident with her major, Dougherty decided to combine the two things she loves- creating art and helping people- and found her perfect match.

“I’ve struggled with mental health issues for a long time and making art has really helped me escape my own mind,” Dougherty said. “I’m excited to be able to help other people overcome their own problems through art, too.”

Her dream is to work with children that have or are going through some sort of trauma, whether it be an illness, abuse, or loss of a loved one.

An art therapist must be well-versed in all art mediums, such as painting, drawing, sculpting, etc. Dougherty has a packed schedule for her two more years here at Montclair, and is required to take every art studio class, even photography, printmaking, and jewelry making.

“Being an art major is a lot more work than people think it is,” Dougherty said. “I have at least four projects every week, and each one takes me a few hours. Plus, all of my classes are over four hours long.”

One of the many art projects Chloe Dougherty has completed this semester. Credit: Kerianne Vianden

Dougherty’s suitemate, Cassandra Repert, said, “Whenever I come into her room, she’s always at her desk working on the next project she has to turn in. It seems stressful, but she works hard because this is what she loves doing. I don’t think anyone would be able to do this major if they weren’t passionate about it.”

Being an art major isn’t just time consuming, it’s also expensive. The sophomore had to dish out over 300 hundred dollars for supplies just this semester. She was required to buy certain brands and colors of paints, as well as a plethora of canvases and paper for the countless amount of assignments she will complete this semester.

Chloe Dougherty’s Ittens portrait interpretation using Photoshop and her own picture. Credit: Kerianne Vianden

“There’s no denying it’s stressful, even when I enjoy painting and drawing so much,” Dougherty said. “But when I think about it long term, it’s worth all of it. I know once I become an art therapist I’m going to look back and be proud of myself for the hard work I’m putting in now.”

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