Dr. Nancy Gerber, teaching faculty in the graduate Art Therapy Program, and Dr. Theresa Van Lith, former associate professor in the graduate Art Therapy Program have been awarded the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) Research Seed grant for their project entitled “Developing a Strategic Plan for Research in Art Therapy: A Multi-phase Sequential Exploratory Mixed Methods Approach”. The project emphasizes the necessity for the creation and enactment of a research strategic plan to advance the credibility and sustainability for the field of art therapy. Responding to the increasing call for research and the correlate evidence-bases, Drs. Gerber and Van Lith acknowledge that healthcare and human services professions such as art therapy need to commit to an infrastructure supporting ongoing critical and systematic examinations of its theories and practices. The project includes four phases: a scoping review of art therapy publications and conference presentations to determine
the current research trends; a survey of the AATA membership about the trends and methods discovered from the scoping review; conducting focus groups to explore the data from the survey results in depth; and, convening an advisory board and symposium of research experts to synthesize the data and formulate the strategic plan. Utlimately, Drs. Gerber and Van Lith propose the development of a strategic art therapy research plan building on existing foundations while constructing: a collaborative research-supportive organizational mission and infrastructure; a multiphasic action plan with a clear trajectory and personnel assignation; capacities for multi-phasic funding of the plan implementation; a systematic identification of epistemologies, evidence-bases, topics, populations, and methodologies; and, desired short-term applications and long-term impact.