The Society for the Arts in Healthcare’s 22nd Annual International Conference, Advancing Patient-Centered Arts, hosted by Stanford Hospital and Clinics, will be held April 13-16, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport in Burlingame, California. Hosted by Stanford Hospitals and Clinics, this conference will give attendees the opportunity to explore model arts in healthcare programs and built environments, gain strategies to successfully position arts programs in healthcare institutions, and develop leadership and professional skills to excel in the field. Arts in healthcare professionals, students, supporters, and all who want to learn more about the field are encouraged to attend.

We’re excited about our involvement at this dynamic conference in April. Art Therapy Without Borders is an exhibitor at the event, so if you are attending the conference, please be sure to stop by our table! We’ll have information on ATWB and how to get involved in our social networks and community—and even some of our famous “domino” pins on hand for purchase as a donation towards ATWB’s efforts. During the conference, Board Members Gretchen Miller and Cathy Malchiodi will be leading a panel on “Combat Paper Project: Helping Soldiers Use Papermaking to Reclaim and Reconstruct Their Lives,” from 2:00 pm to 3:30 on Friday, April 15th. On Thursday, Cathy will be facilitating the lunch hour gathering for Medical Art Therapy from 11:30 am to 1 pm. Finally, on Saturday, April 16th, from 10:30 am to 11:30 am, Cathy will be leading a Bring it Forward Session, “Exploring Best Practices & Collaborations That Use the Arts for Social Transformation to Resolve Conflict, Curb Violence & Create Community.” Art and social action is one of our core values at ATWB, so it is exciting to have a platform to interact with others who are passionate about this topic.

PS: Don’t forget that Cathy and Gretchen are presenting a day long course on Trauma Informed Art Therapy on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011, at the Hyatt Hotel where the Society’s conference is being held. For more information and registration, visit our Events webpage here. You can also take a three-day workshop on PhotoTherapy with Judy Weiser on April 9th thru the 11th at the Hyatt Hotel; for more information, click here.

Don’t miss your opportunity to network and learn at the most comprehensive arts in healthcare event! Find a full schedule, registration information, and more here: ” Early bird registration ends on March 11th, 2011, so make your plans soon—see you there!


This past week-end myself and ATWB Advisory Council member Elizabeth Warson attended a planning meeting for In Service to Our Nation: Arts and Crafts and the Military at the Art School @ George Mason University in  Fairfax, VA. This research project funded from the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design (The University of North Carolina Asheville) is being led by Dr. Tara Leigh Tappert to showcase and study arts & crafts in the military for rehabilitation, vocational training and as recreation to promote well being and healing.  The day included presentations by Dr. Tappert and Patrick Sargent, a tour of the George Mason Printmaking Studio and brainstorming ideas for supporting Dr. Tappert’s grant.  The meeting brought together artists, organizations, and professionals from the arts and the military, arts and healing, and arts and crafts practitioners, including our partner The Combat Paper Project and another ATWB Advisory Council Member, CPP Co-Founder Drew Matott.

Dr. Tappert presented on several themes that she has created to describe the arts role in the military such as Recruit, Record, Rehabilitate, Recreate, Remember, React, Respect, and Reorient. Below are some links, artists, and projects to check out related to Dr. Tappert’s themes:

Art Therapy Without Borders looks forward to learning more about this project and assisting with its development and promotion!

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 speak to this community’s vision.  February’s spotlight includes Dr. Elizabeth Warson:

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 in 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 at 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.

Art Therapy Without Borders thanks Dr. Warson for this interview and sharing her work with the ATWB community!

Like many of the 350 people involved in the Art Therapy Without Borders International Postcard Art Exchange, I am busy making art to send out to fellow artists around the world. My focus has been on creating images about some of the history of art therapy in the US and around the world that I have personally experienced. During this process I started to think, “how does Art Therapy Without Borders fit into this collective history?” But more importantly, another question rose to the surface– why does Art Therapy Without Borders exist?

Several years ago Matt Dunne, former director of AmeriCorps Vista and currently Manager of Community Affairs at Google, taught me one important thing about non-profit, service-oriented organizations– they must know why they exist. Organizations that exist only to pay staff salaries or the rent on office spaces soon lose their souls and cease to be alive, even though financially stable. So while creating a series of postcards like the one you see above, I thought about why ATWB is here and its reason for “being.” Here is what I wrote on the back of this postcard:

Art’s power to change lives, repair and restore is present all around the planet. Art has the potential to transform lives and often in profound ways. When words are not enough, we turn to images and symbols to tell our stories. And in telling our stories through art, we can find a path to healing, recovery and transformation.

Art therapy is larger than any one group or any one country’s history; you are part of the story of art therapy in how you use art to help others, each and every day. That is why Art Therapy Without Borders exists, to help those stories become part of the larger narrative of what we call “art therapy.”

While some see ATWB as a footnote, we would rather think of this community as a series of footprints that are marking out the journeys of so many like-minded individuals around the world. Those footprints play out every day on ATWB, Art Therapy Alliance and International Art Therapy Organization’s social media platforms; we have learned never to underestimate the power of the people to come together via a common belief that art is transformative and that art therapy is powerful force that changes lives.

So some of you who are part of this collective journey will be receiving one of these postcards in the coming weeks. And let me say in advance, thanks for being part of the story— and let’s use art to wake up the world!

Be well,

Cathy Malchiodi, President, ATWB

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 speak to this community’s vision.  We are excited to kick off this series with Dr. Laury Rappaport:

Laury Rappaport, Ph.D., ATR-BC, REAT, LMFT, LMHC is an Associate Professor at Notre Dame de Namur University in the Art Therapy Psychology Department and taught in Lesley University’s Expressive Therapies Program for over 30 years. She is the Founder of the Focusing and Expressive Arts Institute whose mission is to cultivate mindfulness, compassion towards self and others, and expand healing through the arts.  Laury is a member of The Focusing Institute’s International Support Team for Ways of Fluid Conflict Resolving and has extensive clinical expertise, training both nationally and internationally. Laury is the author of Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy: Accessing the Body’s Wisdom and Creative Intelligence.

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 translated and published in Japanese and currently 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, I can be reached through email:

Art Therapy Without Borders thanks Dr. Rappaport for sharing this information with the ATWB community for this interview! We look forward to showcasing more of ATWB’s Advisory Council throughout this year!

Art Therapy Without Borders is excited to announce that registration is now open for a full day course on Trauma Informed Art Therapy to be held April 12 @ the San Francisco Airport Hyatt Regency Hotel.  This course is being taught by Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPAT, LPCC and Gretchen Miller, MA, ATR-BC and being offered a day before the start of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare Conference, also being held at the same venue.

This one-day course will introduce you to trauma informed art therapy and how to apply practical strategies to your work with children and adults who have experienced a wide variety of traumatic events.Trauma informed art therapy integrates neuroscience and neurodevelopment, somatic approaches, mindfulness practices, and resilience enhancement, using art making as the core approach. It is based on best evidence-based practices identified by SAMSHA and The National Institute for Trauma and Loss. This course is open to mental health and healthcare professionals and students; no previous experience with art therapy is required.

-Early Bird Registration before March 1, 2011: $140 for professionals; $120 for students
-Registration after March 1, 2011: $165 for professionals; $140 for students

Cost includes all course materials and outlines, art materials, and certificate of completion; continuing educational credits from NBCC, APA , APT and California MFT available for an additional $25 for 6 CECs. Continuing education credits have been applied for with the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), APA, APT, and California of Behavioral Science (for MFTs).  This course fulfills part of the Trauma Informed Art Therapy Certificate Program; all participants will receive a certificate of completion from The National Institute for Trauma and Loss.

For more information and to register, visit the ATWB website. All proceeds to go to Art Therapy Without Borders. Space is limited, so register early!

Art Therapy Without Borders is excited to present this short 5 minute film Planet Art Therapy Postmarks featuring the first 100 postcards we have received for our International Postcard Art Exchange.  Enjoy!

Spreading holiday cheer all around Planet Art Therapy!   Enjoy!

Postcard art continues to be made, sent, and received all around the world with Art Therapy Without Borders’ International Postcard Art Exchange!

Postcard Art by Yen Chua Art Therapist in Singapore

Since our last update, ATWB  has received our first postcards from Singapore, the Slovac Republic, and Greece in addition to more postcards from Australia and throughout the US.  Over 75 of the 350 participants have already started to mail out postcards during our exchange’s first month, which has included receiving postcard art from 7 of the 30+ countries participating. We’re excited to see such a great start!  We look forward to more postcard love, creativity, and connection arriving soon! Don’t forget you can follow and comment on postcard art coming in and current exchange updates via ATWB’s page on Facebook or our web album on Google.

We’ve also seen a few new blog postings about the exchange that we wanted to share:
More Postcard Art Fun– Caterina Martinico, Northern CA, USA
ATWB International Postcard Exchange– Jacqueline Steudler, Fall River, Nova Scotia, Canada
International Art Therapy Postcard Art Exchange– Kelly Brown, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
International Postcard Exchange Update– Rachel Howard, Belmont, CA, USA
Postcard Assemblage!– Hannah Hunter, Davis, CA, USA

Please note participating in this exchange is now closed, but you can stay connected to future ATWB art project announcements and events through subscribing to this blog, joining our Facebook page, or watching the ATWB website.

Planet Art Therapy: Postcard Art is Being Exchanged Everywhere!

This week in the US brings a time for thanks and gratitude with family & friends… As we gear up for this celebration, one of the many things we are thankful for includes the community, connection, and creativity that ATWB’s postcard art exchange is bringing to the international art therapy community.

We thank ATWB postcard art exchangers for being part of this project, sharing their art, stories, and work/studies….
We continue to be inspired, energized, and excited about postcards being made, sent, and received!

Check out a special ATWB e-news launched today to showcase all the postcard art and exchanging going on around Planet Art Therapy! Feel free to share with friends, colleagues, classmates, and others who might be interested!  Enjoy!