The 49th Annual American Art Therapy Association (AATA) Conference was held in Miami, Florida from Oct. 31, 2018 through November 4, 2018. The mission of the American Art Therapy Association is to advocate for the expansion of access to professional art therapists and lead the nation in the advancement of art therapy as a regulated mental health and human services profession.
FSU’s Graduate Art Therapy program made it down south to represent for their program and the field of art therapy at large. Approximately twenty-four students attended this year’s AATA conference.
Graduates of the program, Megan Beerse, Rebecca Allen and Amanda Schattie presented their master’s thesis research topics to conference attendees. Ms. Beerse stated,
I co-presented with 2017 FSU Art Therapy graduate Becca Allen, who initiated our collaborative research efforts with Dr. Stanwood in the College of Medicine. Her Master’s thesis kicked off what has become a multi-year research project looking into art therapy’s role in proactive mental health strategies for college students. We are investigating the anxiety and stress-reducing benefits of mindfulness-based art therapy using psychological and biological outcome measures. I was grateful to get the opportunity to present on our interdisciplinary efforts here at Florida State University and connect with other professionals from around the world in the process.
Ms. Allen and Ms. Beerse reflected on how their theses, completed in consecutive years, established and expanded upon the important research topic of reducing stress in college students. Post-graduation, Ms. Beerse is continuing work on this research endeavor thanks to the Multidisciplinary Grant from the FSU Council on Research and Creativity (FSU CRC).
Reflecting upon her conference presentation, Schattie stated,
Attending this year’s conference as a graduate was a completely different experience than attending as a student. It was great to reconnect with FSU alumni from my cohort and from years past, as well as learning new approaches and interventions that I can apply to my professional work! With the help of Dr. Barbara Parker-Bell, I presented my thesis research Art Therapy and Body Image: Developing Positive Art Therapy Interventions for Adults with Body Image Concerns. There were a lot of people who attended and asked questions, which was awesome because I was able to see how many art therapists were interested in my study so they could apply new interventions/approaches in their work with clients who struggle with body image issues. Overall, it was a great experience and I can’t wait to attend future conferences!
Second year master’s student, Theresa Sanchez attended the AATA conference in Miami and stated,
I had an amazing experience at my first AATA Conference! The talks were so informative, and it’s was amazing to see what other art therapists are up to around the country and even some from abroad. I feel lucky to have been able to attend a couple workshops and it was a fun scavenger hunt getting different art therapist’s signatures in my Wiley Handbook too. I can’t believe I met Judy Rubin! I look forward to our 50th annual conference next year!
FSU Graduate Art Therapy students, alumni and faculty alike look forward to future AATA conferences.