Navigating the last few years attempting to obtain my Master of Arts in Art Therapy has been an experience that truly challenged me to grow personally and develop as an artist and art therapist. From the closure of Maryhurst University, to temporarily experiencing houselessness, to fighting against limited hours, to relapsing in my second year, to being discriminated against by the program for my mental illness, to taking a leave of absence and not knowing if I had the will to come back. The amount of external barriers I faced broke me down, forcing me to focus on my own self-care and development so I could in turn, be completely present for my clients.
Using heuristic inquiry I examined my own therapeutic ink journey. I explored the development of my tattoo artist and art therapist identity, as well as the therapeutic value of tattoo acquisition from an art therapist. As both an art therapist and a tattoo artist I have the unique privilege and knowledge base to examine not only the relationship between art therapy and tattooing, but the integration of art therapy and tattooing. The tattoos described in this inquiry symbolize my journey finally pursuing my own art as a tattoo artist and finding my way back to art therapy. Through drawings, tattoos and film I share my personal experience attempting to answer the question: “What therapeutic benefits can a person gain from developing and acquiring a tattoo from an art therapist?”