An Interview with Samantha Walsh
What made you decide to enter this field?
I struggled with learning disabilities as a child – I couldn’t read until I was 12-years-old – and experienced low self-esteem because of it. The only thing that made me feel good about myself was art; I was really good at it, and it kept me going. I even went on to major in art, and became a teacher as well.
During my third year of teaching, a student at our school passed away, and I again experienced what a powerful force art can be for healing. It was amazing to see how all of the kids wanted to draw or create something for the child who has passed away. The art they created was not just healing for individual students, but for the school community as well.
Having experienced the power of art in my own life and witnessing it in the lives of others, I decided to pursue art therapy full time.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love when a kid feels proud of themselves. So many of us struggle to feel pride, so if I can help someone get to that point, it makes me feel like I’m making a difference in their life.
When you’re not counseling, what do you like to do?
Of course art, but I also like to play video games, and I really like to write – I actually spend more time in my day writing than I do anything else! I write kid stories, non-fiction… not things that would ever be published… it’s really more of a narrative therapy exercise for myself. And of course I love spending time with my family and my kid.
Do you have a favorite quote you share with clients?
YES, my own quote: “There is no such thing as bad art.” I try to educate my clients about this when I do art therapy, because people can get worked up about how something looks to others instead of focusing on what it means to them. Go to a museum – look at the art there, notice your own own response to it. It may not be your style, but it meant something to the artist.
What do you say to kids who may be afraid to come to therapy?
First, I totally get why it’s scary. I didn’t want to go to therapy when I was young either! But that is only because I didn’t understand what therapy was all about before I tried it out.
I address this concern with every kid who comes into my office. The cool thing is, I’m never using words to tell kids that therapy is not scary… I get to show them that therapy is not scary with my actions. As we work together, we’re not only having fun; we’re building a relationship that is safe and empowering, too.