During 2011, Art Therapy Without Borders will be featuring members from the Advisory Council as an opportunity to learn more about their work and some of the art therapy initiatives they are involved in that help support our vision. Art Therapy Without Borders thanks all Advisory Council members for their interviews and sharing their experience, knowledge, and spirit with the ATWB community!
Tell ATWB readers a little about yourself and what your interests are in art therapy: I started practicing art therapy in 1975 after completing my Bachelor’s degree in Art Therapy at the State University of NY at Buffalo. People are often shocked to hear that I actually received a degree in Art Therapy back then. At that time, there were very few art therapy programs in existence. After transferring schools twice and settling on the idea of studying occupational therapy, I overheard someone in the hallway say, “art therapy.” I was shocked and approached the student, inquiring, “Do they have Art Therapy here?” He answered, “No, well sort of.” I replied, “Sort of? What does sort of mean?” It turned out that the university had a program in which students could design their own major by submitting a proposal to a committee. I put together courses in psychology, art, a reading list with the few art therapy books, and a self-designed practicum at a local state hospital with children.
After graduating, I continued this pioneering spirit by looking up all the possible places that had mental health related services, sending letters of interest along with an insert enclosed on “What is Art Therapy” and how it could benefit their program. My first interview was with the Head Master of a residential treatment center for adolescent boys with learning disabilities, DeVeaux School in Niagara Falls, NY. The school administrators had never heard of Art Therapy but they listened to me, and then offered me a position as the first Art Therapist. Over the course of 35 years I have many stories of bringing the use of art to adults, children, couples, families, agencies, and staff.
I share this story as my own personal story and more…it is also a story about the development of Art Therapy. It took “going outside of lines” for me to develop a major in Art Therapy and to create jobs in art therapy. It took bringing my heart, creativity, mind, and courage to invent possible ways of using art for healing. This is the story of art therapy. Art Therapists all over the world have their version of bringing healing through art to people of different ages, with varying needs. This is our creative spirit in action for the benefit of humankind.
What do you believe are important considerations or emerging issues for the international art therapy community to pay attention to? I think it would be helpful for the international art therapy community to have a central database that provides a registry according to location, areas of expertise, populations, etc. I would like to see the international art therapy community organized to deliver specific projects towards promoting peace, emotional healing, and resilience throughout the world. I also think that we need to partner with other organizations that are more developed at bringing these services, as well as evaluating them through evidence-based practices.
What are some special art therapy projects you are working on for and in 2011? My area of specialization is the development of Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy (FOAT). I created FOAT after synthesizing Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing (1981; 1996) with art therapy for 35 years with various clinical populations and in different settings. I see FOAT as a mindfulness practice that helps people to cultivate greater awareness, compassion, listening, emotional healing, and problem-solving with creative expression. To complement my book on Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy, I recently completed a CD, Focusing for Wellbeing: Guided Exercises. In addition to teaching the Focusing and arts process, the CD contains three mindfulness exercises based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.
In 2011 I will continue teaching Art Therapy at Notre Dame de Namur University. One exciting project there is that I bring my students to two homeless shelters where we offer art for stress reduction. This summer I will offer FOAT trainings in Hong Kong and Japan and give a lecture on FOAT with Trauma at several universities. A group from Korea is coming to my Focusing and Expressive Arts Institute in California to train in FOAT (and my book is contracted to be translated into Korean).
How can people contact you or find out more about your work? People can learn more about the Focusing and Expressive Arts Institute and my work through my website, www.focusingarts.com. I can be reached through email: email@example.com
Elizabeth Warson, PhD, ATR-BC, LPC, NCC is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate Art Therapy Program at George Washington University. She is on the Board of Directors for the Society for the Arts in Healthcare and serves as the co-chair for the Society’s research committee. Her research interests focus on American Indian cancer survivors and their family members and is the recipient of a Johnson and Johnson grant, co-sponsored by the Mayo Cancer Clinic’s Spirit of EAGLES program and a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts grant. As a professional artist, she has exhibited her sculptural work nationally and internationally.
Tell readers a little about yourself and what your interests are in art therapy: Like many art therapists, I am a person with diverse interests. Depending on the day, I may identify myself as an artist, researcher, instructor, workshop facilitator, mentor…. Being an artist is the core of who I am; I savor my time in the studio and am always looking for venues to exhibit my work. I feel fortunate that my day job as an assistant professor at George Washington University provides me with a supportive environment for all my endeavours. Art therapy has always made “sense” to me regardless of the politics, lack of employment, and misconceptions about the field. What make “sense” to me these days is collaborating with American Indians/Alaska Natives/Native Hawaiians on wellness-based initiatives. My “story” can be accessed from a recent article from GWToday.
What do you believe are important considerations or emerging issues for the international art therapy community to pay attention to? Community-based participatory approaches are on the frontline of research and have relevance to practitioners with respect to developing successful partnerships. Collaboration from the inception of any program/study is vital to creating sustainable practices, which is key to working with underserved communities. International organizations such as Art Therapy without Borders and the Society for the Arts in Healthcare are providing the platform to create successful collaborative relationships.
What are some special art therapy projects you are working on and for 2011? In collaboration with the Coharie tribe and North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs –through funding from the NEA–we are conducting monthly cultural art workshops for the youth in two settlements of the Coharie tribe. The documentation from workshops will lead to a traditional arts curriculum for the Cohaire, contributing to their archiving and preservation efforts. Two traditional artists from the tribe serve as the workshop facilitators.
Through the GW Summer Institute program, we are offering a two-week American Indian Art Therapy immersion experience with the Oglala tribe on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota. This trip is open to students and professionals not affiliated with George Washington University. Learn more here.
I am presently wrapping up two studies: An American Cancer Society grant provided me with funding to conduct 14 wellness-based art therapy workshops for American Indian cancer survivors in North Carolina. An internal grant from George Washington University supported a one-day community workshop exploring the interrelationship between American Indian medicine and art therapy.
This fall I will be conducting a two-day felting making workshop for the Native People’s Circle of Hope conference in Billings, Montana. This workshop is an extension of my work with my collaborator John Lorance. John and I have been offering therapeutic feltmaking workshops together since 2006.
How can people contact you or find out more about your work? You can contact me directly firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-299-4147 or you can facebook me at Elizabeth Warson. Because much of my research becomes property of the tribal communities I partner with, I am unable to routinely publicize their artwork on the internet. I have a couple publications coming out this year that I will link to my GW faculty homepage. Our graduate program also maintains a blog that chronicles our research, international excursions, and special events.
(Paul) Lee Thiam Seng, MA is a Singapore born artist, art therapist, and consultant. Paul is the Founder of UniqArts and Technologies, currently in private practice and running workshops for institutions, group and individuals. Paul has experience with providing art therapy to individuals and groups with special needs, in the medical setting, and schools throughout Singapore. Paul is passionate about art therapy for enhancing wellness and health, as well as for positivity and happiness. He initiated the Positive+Happiness Art Therapy professional group on LinkedIn and implements this focus for corporate retreat programs, schools and institutions.
Tell readers a little about yourself and what your interests are in art therapy: Art is my passion. I am promoting a notion that prevention is better than cure. In addition, I believe in positive psychology as well and therefore, it is my interest to focus the use of art therapy to facilitate positive thinking and life styles. To me, it is far more useful to build inner resources rather than trying to open psychological wounds without healing. When a person is in trouble or encountering life crisis, he or she will probably be in need of these internal resources to cope with this crisis and to become stronger after the crisis. Without this pool of mental strength, some people might suffer from mental breakdown and illnesses. In addition, I am integrating art therapy into creativity training and corporate human resources development. By using art therapy to unleash creative talents of individuals and groups, it seems possible to heighten the unconscious level of human potential to improve quality of work and life. My interest in art therapy also includes the capacity to develop inner creativity to its full potential because art connects to our creative intuition. Since art therapy provides a tangible product of creative self; the capacity for post therapy, reflection, change, transformation and growth is enormous.
What do you believe are important considerations or emerging issues for the international art therapy community to pay attention to? To me, the international art therapy community will flourish further with a recognized standard education system that covers an agreed fundamental in art therapy training. Currently, it seems to me there are different versions of art therapy in foundation and beliefs. Furthermore, this seems to be diversified into other sub categories (expressive art therapy, sand therapy, play therapy, music therapy, interactive drawing therapy, photo therapy, etc.). It is therefore confusing to the public and lacks cohesiveness among the art therapy profession. It is probably one of the reasons why art therapy can not be well defined as a profession independently.
Another aspect for the international art therapy community that might be useful includes more clinical research to collect evidence about how art therapy works. It seems to me that there are many art therapy works written in a case studies format. In addition, also having clinical research with an international review board and a team with other health care professionals could be useful. This research could then be shared within the profession or even to the public to help increase understanding about how art therapy works.
What are some special art therapy projects you are working on in 2011? I am exploring funding and opportunities to do clinical art therapy research for cancer patients. There is strong evidence to suggest the potential of psychological healing through creative art therapy. Further research will need a prolonged period of study, institutional funding, and scientific analysis. I am hoping such research to be carried out to aid women with breast cancer in their healing and recovery journey. Potentially, it could help define the scientific healing in art therapy for patients as a form of prevention and recovery from battling from their cancer disease.
Registered Art Therapist, Professional Counselor, and Fulbright Scholar Rebekah Chilcote, MA, ATR, PC has worked with child survivors of the Sri Lanka tsunami, children in Africa orphaned by AIDS and Palestine youth impacted by violence and war in the West Bank. Rebekah also currently serves as an Assistant Program Coordinator for the International Child Art Foundation’s Haiti Healing Arts Team and works with the African Heart Art project.
Tell readers a little about yourself and what your interests are in art therapy: I am passionate about international art therapy and helping traumatized children world-wide. I grew up in Africa as a missionary kid and as a twelve-year-old, spent every waking moment at an orphanage in Zimbabwe where I helped care for forty-five infants and toddlers, including baby Aaron who died of AIDS. This experience changed my life forever and I later returned to Zimbabwe as a Fulbright scholar to carry out a study on the use of art with children orphaned by AIDS. The materials were basic; the art tasks simple; the results profound. Children who had watched their family members die of AIDS had no chance to express their grief and pain. Their emotional needs, left unaddressed, were overwhelming. Through drawing and painting the orphans opened their hearts to me, pouring out stories of trauma, but also hope. This was my first experience with the power of art therapy and I have since completed a master’s degree with the hopes of moving back to Africa to establish long-term art therapy programs there. In recent years, I have continued my passion of traveling the world, providing art therapy for traumatized children on four continents. I have lived and worked with child tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka, street kids in Ethiopia, homeless children in Cleveland, genocide survivors in Rwanda and most recently children traumatized by war in the West Bank, Palestine. People often ask me, ‘how can you stand the suffering?’ To me, it is the greatest honor of my life to walk beside those in desperate need. It is my holy ground.
What do you believe are important considerations or emerging issues for the international art therapy community to pay attention to? I believe that addressing cross-cultural issues is of the utmost importance when discussing international art therapy today. The need to offer healing to those in need, while, at the same time maintaining cultural sensitivity and awareness is critical. I believe it is important to avoid imposing western standards or methodology without understanding the culture you are in. Some questions I ask myself when arriving in a new country for the first time are: “What are the needs of the people here and how can I work along-side them to bring healing?” How do they express grief culturally?” “What healing mechanisms are already in place within the culture, such as art expression, dance, or tribal rituals?”
I strongly emphasize working hand in hand with the local people as this impacts program success in the short-term and sustainability of the program in the long run. It is always my primary aim to enter into a new culture with gentleness, sensitivity and openness, offering my skills, but not imposing them. As more and more art therapists begin to explore and travel our world, the need for this understanding is great.
What are some special art therapy projects you are working on in 2011? My efforts right now are focused on supervising the children’s program at a residential homeless shelter in inner-city Cleveland. I find the work both challenging and exhilarating; the children some of the most remarkable I have known.
I am spending a lot of time writing and am working on preparing a book for publication which will include children’s drawings, paintings, art therapy sessions and personal stories from around the world. In addition, I am writing grant proposals and applying for funding to establish an ongoing art therapy/ grief center on the continent of Africa (hopefully in Zimbabwe). With over one million children orphaned by AIDS in the country of Zimbabwe alone, the need for art therapy and grief work is great. I am hoping to connect with partners, both locally and globally to join me in this venture.
How can people contact you or find out more about your work? Feel free to email me at email@example.com or connect with me on Facebook.
Gloria Simoneaux, MA, REAT, EXA, is the founding director of Harambee Arts, a program in sub-Saharan Africa. Gloria taught Expressive Arts to counselors in Nairobi as a Fulbright scholar, affiliated with the Kenya Association of Professional Counselors. She is the Founder of DrawBridge: An Arts Program for Homeless Children, has worked with pediatric oncology patients in San Francisco hospitals and is currently a consultant with Save the Children.
Tell readers a little about yourself and what your interests are in art therapy: I’ve worked with children using art since I was a 13 year old volunteer in a hospital in Brooklyn. My path has always been clear to me driven by my passionate love for children and my belief in art as a tool for healing. In 1980 I received a grant to work with pediatric oncology patients in two San Francisco bay area hospitals, using the arts for expression and healing. After eight years I needed a break from the overwhelming grief that surrounded me. In 1989, family homelessness was emerging as a big problem in America, with few safety nets. At that time, The Hamilton Family Center was the only emergency shelter in SF. I called the director and explained my interest in setting up a therapeutic arts program for homeless children. Within ten minutes, I was hired on the phone. Three months after that I was awarded a three-year grant to continue the work. As the homeless problem grew, so did the numbers of shelters and transitional housing sites in SF. The new shelters also needed psycho-social support programs for the children, and so DrawBridge; An Arts Program for Homeless Children was born. Other staff joined the team and soon we were creating art with children in six shelters in three counties. After 20 years we were in seven counties; more than 25 shelters. I left DrawBridge in 2007 and it is still thriving. In 2008 I went to Nairobi, Kenya for a year and a half as a Fulbright scholar to teach art therapy to psychologists and counselors throughout the country. Harambee Arts is the small non-profit organization that I started, also in 2007. We have three strong on-going community arts projects in Nairobi: 1- A support group for HIV+ women prisoners. 2- Arts programs for children with autism and Down’s syndrome and 3- Arts and leadership training for children in the slums of Kibera (Africa’s largest slum). Currently, I am a consultant for Save the Children (HEART Project), teaching trainers, and providing on-going support, in Nepal, Malawi and Haiti. I also oversee the Harambee Arts Project, directed by a young man from Rwanda.
What do you believe are important considerations or emerging issues for the international art therapy community to pay attention to? As art therapy becomes more accepted as an intervention world-wide, the issue that is foremost in my mind is acknowledging cultural differences. It is critical that people interested in sharing their skills internationally, learn to do so sensitively, without imposing our western ideas and standards. I was recently asked to design and teach a course at CIIS (California Institute for Integral Studies) on Expressive Arts Internationally and how to work and teach in other cultures. It’s been a big challenge for me to be flexible and patient while working in cultures that are entirely different to the one I am accustomed to. I am still learning and practicing.
What are some special art therapy projects you are working on for/in 2011? I’ve been a consultant with Save the Children since 2009 and I’m currently working on projects in Nepal, Malawi and Haiti. My burning interest at the moment is working with survivors of sexual trafficking and slavery. I had an opportunity to lead a training recently in Nepal for a miraculous group of 25 women survivors who have formed an organization called Shakti Samuha. After working with them, I became a bit obsessed and wanted to drop everything else to work side by side with the survivors. I’m trying to raise money to go back and do in depth therapy with the women and extensive training in expressive arts. I also worked (in Nepal) for the first time with hearing impaired children and I am excited to continue that work, as well. I’ll be making my first trip to Haiti soon and I’ve been preparing for the very different cultural experience (most of my experience has been in Africa and Asia). I have been told that children in Haiti are not recognized as human until after they join the workforce.
4. How can people contact you or find out more about your work? My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org and my website is www.hamrambeearts.org. I welcome communication from anyone who wants to find out more.
Artist and Art Therapist, Caroline Maby is the founding Director of Couleurs du Coeur, a French non-profit organization that promotes humanistic philosophy and global collaboration through the use of art therapy. Its primary mission is bring psychological care to victims of PTSD, and more recently, to children in Haiti. Caroline works in France with various populations, including adults suffering from psychosis and bipolar disorders, violent adolescents and with people who are victims of exclusion.
Tell readers a little about yourself and what your interests are in art therapy: As far as I can remember, I have always been painting. As an artist, I dreamed of being a guide who could facilitate creation and encourage introspection. Digitalism and interactivity was my first path. I developed Mind Art, an interactive art concept with painting which became an innovative creation tool in the therapeutic environment. Mind art is a digital experience which allows the individual to interpret the paintings in an intuitive and immediate way, according to her/his own sensibility. I first used the interactive installation in art centers, then with people suffering from severe mental illness in psychiatric hospitals. These residencies provided my first contact with psychiatry and revealed my desire to become an Art Therapist. After years spent in institutions and residential treatment centers, I am now working in private practice with adults, adolescents and kids. My practice is called Art Therapie Evolutive, inspired by the humanistic psychology of Maslow, Rogers, and Assagioli, symbolic analysm and the transformation of these drawings. I recently founded the humanitarian association Couleurs du Coeur (Colors of the Heart) which promotes the art-therapy in a united and humanist way. As organizer of the teams invested in Couleurs du Coeur’s international missions, I intervene regularly in Haïti and France with children suffering from PTSD and psycho-social troubles. I am just coming back from a 3 week training session in Port-au-Prince that was given to Haitian psychologists, caregivers, nurses, and teachers.
What do you believe are important considerations or emerging issues for the international art therapy community to pay attention to? The aim of the Couleurs du Coeur was conceived by taking into great account the ethno-cultural aspects of the foreign culture we would meet. Haitian culture, beliefs like voodoo, and their symbolic color system is far different from ours. For example, pink might express sweetness to Caucasian people. Among Haitians, it is brown, the color of the skin. If we project our Western theories, this does not work and above all, is not respectful. I recommend this article published from MediaGlobal for more information about this work. Another consideration I would like to stress is the need to exchange our international practices in a free and open-minded way. Richness comes from differences. Exchanges with American and Canadian art therapists as well as my humanitarian work in Haiti as an art therapy trainer definitely helped develop my practice.
What are some special art therapy projects you are working on in 2011? As the President of Couleurs du Coeur, I wish to establish a long term Art Therapy Training Program in Haïti. I am working hard to find partnership and places to settle the project. I am also working from France with a bright psychologist and Art Therapist in Kenya, Sikuku Martin, to conceive a global art therapy training program in Kenya. Couleurs du Coeur is ready to honor any demand of art therapy workshops in emergency situations or specialized art therapy training programs throughout the world. Our experience in Haiti has been precious. I also wish to develop my private practice in Brittany, France through organizing specialized workshops. I am especially interested in childhood trauma, women’s issues (breast cancer, domestic violence, self realization, etc.) and transpersonal approaches.
How can people contact you or find out more about your work? Do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail: email@example.com or this portal: www.myartbecomesyours.com (stands for my name «m a b y»). This site also provides access to the websites of Couleurs du Coeur, my studio for private practice and the interactive art experience Mind Art .
A Registered Expressive Arts Therapist, Registered Social Worker and Trainer, Fiona Chang, REAT, RSW, M. Soc. Sc. has more than 17 years of experience integrating multimodal expressive arts processes in counseling and group therapy throughout a variety of settings in Hong Kong. Fiona is the Vice-chairperson of the “Art in Hospital” and honorary advisor of several patient self-help organizations. She is also an Honorary Lecturer of the Department of Social Work and Social Administration and Honorary Clinical Associate of the Centre on Behavioural Health of the University of Hong Kong. Fiona serves as a Regional Coordinator and a member of the International Committee of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA), a member of the Advisory Council of Art Therapy Without Borders (ATWB) and a member of the Southwestern College Board of Advisors. She also conducts lectures and workshops at several universities and NGOs, locally and internationally.
Tell readers a little about yourself and what your interests are in art therapy: Since I was a little girl, I loved to use art, singing, lyrics and dramatic play to express myself. I have deeply experienced the healing potential of the arts in my own personal growth and journey. I am very grateful to be an expressive arts therapist because I can do what I am really passionate about in both my personal and professional paths.
I studied a Person-centered Expressive Arts Approach with Dr. Natalie Rogers and Dr. Christine Evans at Saybrook University in the US and have integrated multimodal expressive arts processes in counseling and group therapy for nearly 18 years in a variety of settings, including but not limited to working with people with health challenges, deprived women, parents and children with special needs, ex-drug addicts and in palliative care. As a mother, I have made use of home-based arts for child development and parent-daughter communication. As a woman, I have used the arts to contain and express my true feelings in an artistic way. I always find a new sense of self from the creative exploratory process. Such profound transformation can strengthen the Person-centered quality of my true being and bring me to a solid ground in clinical practice with positive regard, empathic understanding and congruence.
I am very interested in the blending of Chinese metaphors, art, culture, philosophy and rituals in the Western model of expressive arts therapy to actualize the self-healing potentials of each individual. For example, the “Yin-Yang Mandala” is a wonderful invitation to explore the harmony between feminine and masculine or light and shadow of our inner world. “Xinjie” 心結 is a meaningful metaphor to the knots in our heart. We can use colorful strings to make symbolic knots to represent our difficulties, inhibitions, attachment and unresolved business in life. In the creative healing process, we can discover how to release, accept and learn from each knot.
What do you believe are important considerations or emerging issues for the international art therapy community to pay attention to? With the convenience and rapid development of social media, people from different corners of the world can be connected without borders and become promptly closer to one another. The Internet has become a fascinating platform for us to share our work in the art therapy field. The creative force from each individual can become a universal energy in bringing the true essence of arts to this world. Especially in some countries, art therapy is a new comer to the human service field. Having an international exchange and support platform is really helpful for promoting the worldwide development of art therapy. To furnish this exchange with human touch and ethical sensitivity, we can infuse humanity, mindfulness and creativity in the online platform.
Healing is possible in many communities when people who are passionate about sharing the gifts of expression through the arts are supported to follow the true calling from their heart. Different communities have their unique way of using art as healing, counseling and therapy, and as a result the art therapy field will become more dynamic and challenging in this decade. With an international community walking the path of the changing world, it is vital to build up an open global family as a nurturing ground to embrace different blooming approaches, values and cultures of art therapy in this world. I do believe in the universal power of the arts to heal. Through a fruitful international exchange, we can learn from each other, respect each other, nurture cultural sensitivity and advocate for the true empowerment through the arts.
What are some special art therapy projects you are working on in 2011? With the support of Dr. Natalie Rogers, Dr. Christine Evans, Professor Jack Weller, Ms. Anin Utigaard, Dr. Sandra Tsang and Professor Cecilia Chan, I recently rolled out a Three-year Training Program in Expressive Arts Therapy – The Person-Centered Approach at the Centre on Behavioral Health of the University of Hong Kong. We just conducted two briefing sessions with more than 100 participants. We also got many enquiries from Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Macau and Mainland China. This is the first ever local program to train budding expressive arts facilitators, educators and therapists in Hong Kong. Our team members are excited and honored to be contributing to this development. For more details, please go tothis program link.
In addition, it is valuable to put our experience in words to share and consolidate our clinical practice. I am now writing several English and Chinese book chapters on the application of expressive arts therapy in Hong Kong. Titles include “Awakening the Creative Resources of Cancer Patients”, “Using Expressive Arts to Advance Group Development” (善用人本表達藝術治療促進小組成長 in Chinese), “Integrating Person-centred Expressive Arts with Chinese Metaphors” and “Regaining Feminity from Breast Cancer with Expressive Arts”. My dream is to write my own Chinese book on Expressive Arts Therapy in 2012.
I love my clinical practice and will continue to use the arts with people from all walks of life. This year, I have been invited to go to India and Sichuan to promote the healing arts and provide training to mental health professionals in some deprived areas. We are planning to work with the local people to spread and plant the seeds of arts in their homeland.
How can people contact you or find out more about your work? I am inspired by the affection, beauty, creativity, delight, expression and freedom of arts in a person-centered approach. I hope more people can use the arts to generate energy for growth with congruence, love, faith and creativity. You can find me at www.personcenteredexpressivearts.com or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally from Montreal, Canada, Elizabeth Beck, MA, ATR currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Liz is a leading blogger on the subject of art therapy, where she connects art therapists to news and trends by discussing subjects including, but not limited to, new technology, ethics, research, trauma, developmental disabilities and new media. Liz is also responsible for managing and editing article content focusing on different issues and topics related to art therapy as Features Editor for FUSION.
Tell readers a little about yourself and what your interests are in art therapy: I initially became interested in art therapy following my own experience using art making as a way of psychologically managing the effects of Crohn’s disease. I was diagnosed almost 20 years ago, but it was 10 years ago that I turned to art making as a way of coping with a complication that could only be repaired surgically. I waited over 6 months, sometimes inpatient, for a space to open in the operating room. Bored, scared and anxious, I began producing mixed media paintings visually representing what was happening to my body and then sewing stitches over the wounded areas as a way of imagining its repair. So, art making in the face of a difficult life situation came naturally to me, and it felt right to help others discover this as well. I graduated from Drexel, formally known as Hanhemann, in 2007 with an MA in Creative Arts in Therapy: Specialization Art Therapy. During my practicums I gained experience working with children, families and adults, including a one year internship with men and women suffering from eating disorders. After graduation I concentrated on working with a different population—adults dually diagnosed with a developmental disability and an Axis I disorder. I also started my blog in 2007 (it was a big year for me!), which I still maintain. I try to focus on contemporary art therapy issues including news, research, ethics and technology. In 2009, I began editing for the Features Section of FUSION, where I’ve had the pleasure of working with Gretchen and Cathy to put together a great read for art therapists. And, most recently, I’ve launched Liz Beck Designs, where I offer web design, website usability, ethics and technology consultations for art therapists.
What do you believe are important considerations or emerging issues for the international art therapy community to pay attention to? The internet has offered numerous ways for art therapists from around the globe to interact, share ideas and market themselves and their practices. Web 2.0, the social internet, has made all this possible. But with it comes new and sometimes unforeseen ethical issues and responsibilities. Credentialing bodies across all professions, not only art therapy, struggle to keep up with the rapidly changing virtual landscape, and in most cases are failing to guide their members adequately. So, it’s up to each one of us to carefully consider the implications of our virtual interactions and vocalize our opinions in order to shape the collective ethical art therapy consciousness. In addition, learning about the possibilities virtual spaces have to offer and how to integrate new technologies within art therapy practice will be an important part ofbeing an art therapist in years to come. Although this may seem intimidating to many art therapists, technology is rapidly becoming less expensive, more intuitive to work with and more realistic in terms of human computer interaction. I believe that in years to come it won’t feel difficult or out of the ordinary to use new technologies within art therapy practice, and this will open up new possibilities across the globe.
What are some special art therapy projects you are working on in 2011? I recently gave a webinar discussing the basics of having an online presence as an art therapist and tips on staying ethical as we interact on the web. I’m planning to give more art therapy and technology talks in the future.
How can people contact you or find out more about your work? I love interacting with other art therapists and giving advise to those thinking about pursuing a career in art therapy! You can contact me through my blog,website, the Liz Beck Designs facebook page, twitter and LinkedIn.