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Thank you to all our members and the art therapy community for participating in our strategic planning process and DEI Listening Sessions Series. Both these efforts are enabling AATA to re-examine and transform policies and structures to incorporate DEI into all aspects of our work as an association and profession. In this special Art Therapy Today issue on DEI, we are thrilled to roll out our 2021-2023 Strategic Plan, which includes DEI as a key Pillar or priority area of focus. We are also pleased to share findings from the DEI Listening Sessions and Survey, as well as an update of AATA’s recent DEI actions. We look forward to working with you to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive association and profession!
The American Art Therapy Association’s Board of Directors recently completed a strategic planning process and we are pleased to introduce to you our new strategic plan to guide our association over the next three years. The new plan includes 5 Pillars or priority areas of focus — and a new vision statement, which was based on feedback from our members!
Thank you to so many of you who participated in the strategic planning process, and we look forward to working with you to achieve our new mission: to advance art therapy as a regulated mental health profession and build a community that supports art therapists throughout their careers.
Last winter, AATA conducted a series of listening sessions and an online survey to hear from members and the broader art therapy community about their experiences and suggestions in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Barriers to entering the field and lack of diversity in the profession were identified as the two overarching issues that need to be prioritized. Participants said they want AATA to cast a wider net to bring in more diverse people into the field, including men, BIPOC, and persons with disabilities, and supported establishing a pipeline to diverse leadership in the association to attract new members and professionals into the field. They highlighted the need to change the culture of the profession and AATA, as well as educational and practice standards and training.
The findings and key take-aways are outlined in this document, alongside specific comments from participants. The priorities and strategies from the Listening Session Series are now also addressed in the Board’s newly approved 2021-2023 Strategic Plan.
Gretchen M. Miller, MA, ATR-BC, ACTP, Chair, DEI Committee of the Board
The purpose of this update is to provide a status report on the ways in which AATA has begun to address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) throughout the entire organization, and to communicate about the next steps in this ongoing process. Much like in national conversations, this process has included critically re-examining, dismantling, and transforming policies, structures, and identifying our biases throughout the AATA, and assessing impacts on the broader art therapy community. AATA’s DEI vision is to demonstrate equity and belonging in all aspects of the Association and in the profession of art therapy.
Zulay Romero, MS, ATR-P, LCMHCA
I view my role as an art therapist as essential. I currently am treating an individual who is traveling about four hours total to be treated for depression after having COVID. They travel to me because I am the closest Spanish-speaking art therapist to them. I feel honored that I can serve in this role, but I will say that sometimes it puts a lot of pressure on me. I have had to remind myself constantly in this past year that “if I’m not okay, they won’t be okay.” While our work as mental health providers is essential and important, we have to check in with ourselves constantly and make sure we are addressing our well-being too (mental, emotional, spiritual, physical).
Art Therapy in the News
Latinos face largest increase in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia-related illnesses, summit to lessen stigma, provide resources
"Realizing the lack of resources for the Latino community, Rocha in 2016 started the Facebook group facebook.com/LaBrochaChicago, which puts art therapy at the center for elders 60 and over, individuals with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other types of dementia, and their families."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"In preparation of becoming a designated [hospital-based violence intervention program] center, Grady’s trauma recovery center has established strong connections to other local violence disruption programs like Cure Violence, as it works to help high-risk individuals navigate the complex web of available medical and social services. Grady also provides victims with long-term mental health resources, including art therapy programs designed to leverage the creative talents of victims as an avenue to guard against further violence and reinjury."
'We should just come together.' Murfreesboro kids work with art therapist, design mural about racism
News Channel 5 - Nashville
VIDEO: "The ups and downs of the last year have been difficult for kids to process. Students at the McFadden Community Center in Murfreesboro are working with an art therapist to process some of the unrest in the world. 'It's been amazing,' said Mackenzie Hall, 13. 'I've never had this type of opportunity to do this and probably none of these children in here have.'"
"Individuals who exhibit depressive symptoms and suicidality are at risk for developing chronic, persistent, and treatment-resistant depression. The combination of manual-based phenomenological art therapy (PATd) with treatment as usual (TAU) has been previously associated with improvement in depressive symptoms immediately following intervention."
"Art Therapist Melissa Turgeon was involved in the project that people attending the PGA Tour’s 3M Open will have a chance to see close up. 'Art can help promote well-being, we want them to know art in any capacity, helps children in the hospital, helps families, helps caregivers to foster self-expression during hospitalization,' said Turgeon."
"In response to lost learning time this past school year, Seven Hills Preparatory Academy is providing an expanded summer program to meet the needs of its students. In addition to course offerings in reading and math, students will attend social-emotional and physical education sessions each day of the 5-week summer program. Seven Hills, with campuses in Bloomington and Richfield, is also partnering with Adler Graduate School of Counseling and The Art Lab to provide a fully-outfitted Art Therapy Bus on-site so that students, as well as parents and staff, can have an opportunity to process the challenges of the past year while preparing themselves for the promise of the next."
"When Sophie Czerwinski arrived in Billings nearly a year ago, she had a lot of work ahead of her. An AmeriCorps volunteer, her job was to continue addressing the community’s addiction epidemic. The project had been running for two years, and had seen some success. Czerwinski took notes on how other art-based addiction recovery efforts had succeeded. But, rather than doing a single, isolated event that incorporated art in healing and recovery, she would try a months-long approach, calling on the community to help."
"My kid likes art, and at just six years old, she can self-regulate, she can remove herself from situations that cause her stress or anxiety, and simply say, 'I need some alone time,' and she will leave the situation. When I go to look for her, she is off, making art and in her zone. Art is my kid’s way of not only expressing herself, but helping to quiet her big emotions — from fear to anxiety to excitement and boredom."
"Scrapbooking, doodling, sketching, knitting and sculpting can make a way for a better frame of mind. Thus, the Benilde Well-Being Center of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde and Lindsay Lederman, the clinical director of The Art Therapy Project, a non-profit mental health organization that provides free group art therapy to all people of all ages affected by trauma, have compiled some useful tips for those who currently struggle."
The AATA's Art Therapy Today includes a digest of the most important news selected for the AATA from thousands of sources. Guest articles may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Publication of any guest article is at the sole discretion of the AATA. The opinions expressed and/or contents of guest articles, advertisements, and external links included in any AATA publication do not represent the positions or policies of the AATA. The AATA makes no warrenty or representation concerning the accuracy of such content.