Posts Tagged ‘art therapist’

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. August’s spotlight includes Elizabeth Beck:

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.

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.  April’s spotlight includes Rebekah Chilcote, MA, ATR, PC:

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 or connect with me on Facebook.

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.  March’s spotlight includes Paul Lee Thiam Seng, MA:

(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.

How can people contact you or find out more about your work? I can be contacted by email: or at 65-63441670. My web site is

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!

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.

My inspiration for the Art Therapy Without Borders International Postcard Art Exchange came from something my mother bought us to help us learn at school– flashcards. I remember learning to recite multiplication and division tables from those cards and ever since then, I have a visual memory of mathematics in the form of manila-colored cards in my head.

We all learn to recite answers to questions, no matter where our education takes us. In graduate school, soon-to-be art therapists are taught a certain set of historical and other facts that we pretty much start to accept as dogma eventually. So I started to think, just what would a set of art therapy flashcards look like? What are the “facts” that we have been taught to recite to our professors, for an exam, and to each other in order to feel that we are part of the group? But most of all, are these facts correct?

My first flashcard is one of several on Margaret Naumburg. When I was in graduate school studying art therapy I had to read Margaret Naumburg’s original works. In the US, we are generally taught that Naumburg is the “mother” of art therapy and the “creator” of art therapy as a profession. These are facts that we readily accept, as to if to anchor ourselves within a lineage of professionals who came before us and as a starting point for the existence of a profession.

Naumburg’s declaration that art therapy is a “profession” took place in the mid-20th century. Meanwhile in the early 21st century we are now questioning if there really is a profession called art therapist. In the US, “art therapist” is not listed as a separate job category in the Department of Labor. Even if it becomes a category, there are challenges to its acceptance. Art therapy degrees are being transformed into counseling degrees for the sake of licensure; is this marriage a good match or a way to keep art therapy education programs in tuitions when unlicensed graduates could not find employment? Naumburg created a profession for the most part by declaration, but does that declaration translate into something more than just an agreed upon “group-think” that there really is a profession called art therapist?

Finally, how does one become the key “creator” of anything? If someone is the first to declare something in writing does that make that person the creator of that premise? It’s easy to realize that Naumburg was not the only person talking the talk, but she was one of the first to get into print. It echoes an unspoken tradition in the field of art therapy that involves rushing to publish on a topic in order to “claim” it. In my humble opinion, that has resulted in a lot of half-baked books and has not really helped to establish a credible profession called “art therapist.” Not sure that is what Naumburg envisioned! I’ll get back to these questions later in future re-visioning.

More flashcards soon!

Cathy Malchiodi, November 17, 2010