Art Therapy Advocacy and Activism


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Art Therapists are advocates and social activists by nature of their work in mental health, healthcare, community agencies, and service to others around the world. This presentation by Cathy Malchiodi summarizes how art therapists can become advocates and activists on both a local and global level.

  • Absolutely wonderful!
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  • Absolutely wonderful! Inspiring! Art Therapy and activism is a subject very near and dear to my heart - in fact, I am planning to write my thesis on the very topic, based on what I have been doing during my internship. Thank you for the inspiration, and thank you for being one of the pillars of this field I love.
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  • Wonderful presentation! Really gets to the heart of the matter.
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  • Although art therapists still struggle with recognition by the public and other professionals, there is one thing in our favor-- or at least I have found it to be true. Being an art therapist gives you endless opportunities to “reinvent yourself” because it is an identity with so many possibilities.
  • And obviously, from the beginning until now, trauma became a “theme” for me. Mostly through work with traumatized children from violent homes, but also children with cancer, witnesses to violence in schools, and those who experienced disasters. Along with them came work with their families and adult populations, like women with cancer, families experiencing grief and loss, and people of all ages who survived disasters or other traumatic events.
  • Lily Yeah is above and beyond so many as a role model for how the arts transform communities, she is literally in a class by herself. The 2005 Arts and Healing Award recipient, the Village of Arts and Humanities in North Philadelphia has turned more than 250 abandoned lots into more than 2 dozen parks, gardens, and green spaces. There are also many rehab’d houses and brand-new ones, and sustainable enterprises including a nursery and a crafts studio. The Village has a permanent staff and a million dollar budget and 100s of volunteers in service to the local community.
  • The International Medical Corp has a little different take on art, advocacy, and activism. IMC pioneers the treatment of serious mental disorders in emergency settings, and works with partners to develop best practices to guide international Non Governmental Organizations as they implement mental health programs in these settings. They are powerful images that capture the pain and struggles of life as a young refugee. Sixty photographs, taken by kids ages 12-20 at a refugee settlement in Uganda that is supported by International Medical Corps and UNHCR are now on display at exhibits in Washington, London and Kampala. The images were selected from thousands taken during a photo camp with IMC and renowned photographers from National Geographic. As part of the workshop, students were taught photographic techniques and then sent out into their surroundings to take photos of the people and places important to them. IMC staff then used the photographs to counsel the students on coping with the turbulence and difficulty of refugee life. In viewing their lives through the camera's lens, the participants not only produced striking photographs, but the process allowed them to unlock painful memories and experiences from the past. In its 24 years of humanitarian work, IMC has recognized that art therapy is an effective tool in helping with long-term recovery for traumatized populations, especially children.
  • So this is some “advice” that has guided my career moves in the field of art therapy and in being an advocate through art for those in need…
  • So this is some “advice” that has guided my career moves in the field of art therapy and in being an advocate through art for those in need…
  • So this is some “advice” that has guided my career moves in the field of art therapy and in being an advocate through art for those in need…
  • Thanks to Liz Warson and the Coharie people for this slide….it really is important for you to be the change you want to see in the world…
  • Art Therapy Advocacy and Activism

    1. 1. Art Therapists as Advocates and Activists: Reinventing Our Professional Identity Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPCC, LPAT International Art Therapy Organization first presented April 2008
    2. 2. Artists have roles as agents of transformation that are more socially valuable than their mainstream art world roles Arlene Goldbard From New Creative Community
    3. 3. Art therapy is… a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. [definition created by C. Malchiodi, 2006, for AATA, Inc.]
    4. 4. Envisioning a subtext to this definition: Art Therapists are more than this, they are… <ul><li>agents of transformation through the arts; </li></ul><ul><li>providers of compassionate service; </li></ul><ul><li>… and by nature, advocates and activists for social issues and social justice. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Where do the “seeds of commitment” for this work come from? <ul><li>Where we came from and what we came through; </li></ul><ul><li>Life experiences--personal, political, and work-related; </li></ul><ul><li>… and those unexplainable synchronicities that place us squarely where we need to be for the lessons we need to learn and the gifts we need to give. </li></ul>
    6. 6. Where the seeds of commitment started for me… <ul><li>First “art therapy” job: Working with domestic violence, child abuse, neighborhood violence, homelessness, & poverty. </li></ul>
    7. 7. And what then became my “calling”….
    8. 8. INSPIRATIONS FOR ART THERAPISTS Two Stories of Art, Advocacy, and Activism in Action…
    9. 9. Lily Yeh…. <ul><li>Founder of the Village of Arts & Humanities, North Philadelphia </li></ul><ul><li>Started on an invitation to create a garden in an abandoned lot in 1986. </li></ul>
    10. 10. The Legend of Lily Yeh … a brief movie
    11. 11. International Medical Corp’s [IMC] Art Therapy Programs…
    12. 12. International Medical Corp Film … photography program in Uganda
    13. 13. Some more things you can do… and you don’t have to go to Uganda to do them… [in other words, world travel is not necessary for activism and adovacy]
    14. 14. <ul><li>Quiz: Who received all “C’s” in English class during college and went on to write 13 books? </li></ul><ul><li>You are looking at her! If I can overcome that, you can, too. </li></ul><ul><li>First book: “Breaking the Silence” in 1990--I was both breaking the silence for children from violent homes & opening my own voice as an advocate. </li></ul>Become a good communicator and start to communicate!
    15. 15. <ul><li>The World Wide Web is an art therapist’s playing field for capitalizing on your talents to use images to share the good word about your work… </li></ul><ul><li>Or start a blog on art therapy and social issues that impassion you… </li></ul><ul><li>And they say a monkey can use Apple’s iMovie software to make a film-- and I am living proof of that! </li></ul>Learn to use media to spread your good words and images…
    16. 16. “ Art Therapy: Be the Change You Want to See “ … be the advocacy you would like to see for your profession. A short film by Cathy Malchiodi, 2007
    17. 17. … so… what is your dream ?
    18. 18. … what’s deep in your heart ?
    19. 19. And what change do you want to see in the world?
    20. 20. The End