The road to becoming an art therapist isn’t always easy, according to Concordia master’s student Sabrina Arsenault.
“It takes a lot of determination,” she says. “People who study art therapy are generally very passionate about it,” she says.
Arsenault, who specializes in intergenerational mental health issues and their social impacts, currently works with people with mental health issues, as well as caregivers, as part of her master’s program in Concordia’s Department of Creative Arts Therapies. She also has a daughter who is three years old.
“Being a parent really showed me, on a personal level, what kind of influence family relationships have on the well-being of future generations,” says Arsenault, who was awarded the $20,000 Peter N. Thomson Family Graduate Scholarship in 2019. The funding enables master’s-level students to dedicate more time to their creative, academic and professional development.
“My partner has supported me while I’ve been attending pre-university courses and university studies for eight years now and I am so grateful. The scholarship really helped propel us,” she says. “It allowed me to help my family, too.”
Arsenault travels four days a week to Montreal from Val-David, where she lives with her partner and daughter.
“Val-David is about 100 kilometres away from the university and I commute with public transportation, which takes a fair amount of perseverance and time. But my partner works [in Val-David] and my daughter has a wonderful daycare there, so it would be too difficult to relocate the entire family for my schooling.”
Arsenault originally took Quebec college diplomas in human sciences and art — and then realized she could combine her two key interests with art therapy.
As a lifelong learner, Arsenault hopes to follow her graduate studies with a PhD in art therapy, with a focus on families and couples — as well as work for a not-for-profit organization to help people who might not otherwise have access to support.
Being awarded the Peter N. Thomson Family Graduate Scholarship has given Arsenault the boost she needed to persevere and she’s grateful for it.
“I love school and I love learning — and I wonder if I’ll ever stop.”