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Summer 2017 Special Topics & Art Therapy Issues: Tracy Councill

Published July 12, 2017

The Department of Art Education’s Art Therapy Program held its second of three summer weekend courses on Art Therapy for Trauma Treatment with Children and Families. The course was held June 24-25, 2017, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, and taught by guest lecturer Tracy Councill, MA, ATR-BC.

Tracy Councill

Tracy Councill and Dr. Barbara Parker-Bell

Tracy Councill earned her MA in Art Therapy from The George Washington University in 1988. She teaches Medical Art Therapy at the George Washington University and at Eastern Virginia Medical School. In 1991, She started an art therapy program for patients and families in pediatric hematology-oncology at Georgetown University Hospital’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1991, which evolved into the non-profit organization Tracy’s Kids. She served as a Director of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) from 2009-2011, and has chaired the AATA Membership Committee. Ms. Councill has published several articles on art therapy, including a chapter on Medical Art Therapy with Children (Ch. 16) in the Handbook of Art Therapy (2011); Cultural Crossroads: Considerations in Medical Art Therapy (Ch. 17) in Using Art Therapy with Diverse Populations (2013); and Art Therapy with Children (Ch. 24) in the Wiley Handbook of Art Therapy (2016). She continues to show her own paintings and block prints at local venues, is an avid gardener and a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Capitol Hill.

Tracy Councill

The course covered the definition, sources and nature of trauma, and behavioral manifestations of trauma in children, their assessment and management. Linda Chapman’s neuro-biologically informed trauma treatment model, and Savneet Talwar’s bi-lateral art-making protocol were taught, in addition to case examples from the instructor’s work in medical art therapy with children. The importance of creating community in trauma treatment, developing resilience and post-traumatic growth were emphasized. Art experientials were used throughout to help students synthesize course material and gain familiarity with possible art directives to use with clients. Students were asked to illustrate a day they will never forget, decorate inner-outer masks to show who they project to the world and don’t, and create a bridge drawing that depicts their journey in graduate school.


Students learned a great deal about trauma treatment with children and families. The department thanks Tracy Councill for sharing her time to lead such an enlightening course.