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.