Digital Art Therapy

Art Therapy in the Digital Era: Highlights and Challenges

February 17-18, 2024
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Day 1, February 17, 2024

Perinatal Dreaming

This presentation introduces "Perinatal Dreaming," a virtual reality (VR) experience created by fEEL Lab (UNSW) and guided by artist, midwife/RN, and trauma support worker, Marianne Wobcke. Born as one of numerous Indigenous children forcibly separated from her mother at birth, Marianne's career focuses on perinatal and intergenerational trauma, with a particular emphasis on maternal-infant interactions.
"Perinatal Dreaming" is presented as an immersive audio-visual journey, artfully portraying the transition from early life in the womb to the introduction into the external world. The VR artwork provides a nuanced exploration of the 'good' and 'toxic' womb, along with the initial sensory experiences involving breast, skin, and the surrounding environment. Beyond its artistic intent, this piece is designed as both a distinctive art encounter and a potential therapeutic tool, adaptable to therapeutic contexts.
This presentation aims to share insights into the development of "Perinatal Dreaming," shedding light on the collaborative efforts between Volker Kuchelmeister, fEEL Lab (UNSW) team, and Marianne Wobcke. The session will explore the scientific and creative aspects of this pioneering VR experience, providing attendees with a comprehensive understanding of its origins and potential applications.

1.    Gain an understanding of the historical and personal context surrounding the creation of "Perinatal Dreaming," including the experiences of Marianne Wobcke as an Indigenous individual
2.   Analyze the layered narrative presented by "Perinatal Dreaming"
3.   Evaluate the potential therapeutic applications of "Perinatal Dreaming" as both a unique art encounter and a tool for therapeutic work, recognizing its adaptability and relevance in addressing perinatal and intergenerational trauma.
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Marianne Wobcke, PhD(c), RN/RM, BaCAIA

Indigenous Midwife, Registered Nurse, storyteller and artist; Marianne’s work has been inspired by over 40 years of extensive experience with birthing and dying clients.
She was recipient of the 2021 Australia Council “Ros Bower Award for Community Arts and Cultural Development” for her pioneering work integrating culturally aware, trauma-responsive creative approaches for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander birthing women.
Indigenous lead with The BIG ANXIETY RESEARCH CENTRE (BARC), UNSW; she has presented her acclaimed “Road Trip’ workshops for diverse audiences, interested in personal growth and transformation; for a variety of urban and regional Australian communities, including international locations, virtually.
Recently, as part of her doctoral research, she guided an innovative Virtual Reality collaboration: Perinatal Dreaming – Understanding Country. This evocative, immersive and demonstrably, therapeutic experience, evolved from her Stolen Generations maternal lineage and her commitment to transmute the compounding impacts intergenerational and perinatal trauma.

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Volker Kuchelmeister

Volker Kuchelmeister is currently working as lead immersive designer and Senior Research fellow at the UNSW felt Experience and Empathy Lab (feel)/Big Anxiety Research Centre [BARC].
He is an expert in presence, embodiment and place representation for immersive applications and has worked extensively in cinematography, interactive narrative, experimental imaging, spatial mapping, interactive systems, immersive visualisation and in the performing arts.
He has been instrumental in establishing media-art research labs (ZKM Centre for Art and Media Karlsruhe Germany – Multimedia Studio; UNSW iCinema Centre Media Lab and the UNSW National Institute for Experimental Art – Immersive Media Lab, UNSW Felt Experience and Empathy Lab). His immersive experiences, interactive installations and experimental video projects are exhibited in museums, galleries and festivals around the world.
As an immersive media designer, he has worked with the fEEL /BARC team on community projects on institutional abuse [parragirls past, present]; Aboriginal mental health and trauma [Uti Kulintjaku Waumananyi: The Song on the Wind]; exploring mental health/felt states in the body [Embodimap]; developing empathy for people with dementia, [The Visit] and current projects investigating trauma and place, [Hard Place/Good Place]. He has published on each of these projects in journals such as International Journal on Stereo & Immersive Media, Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice and FKT. Die Fachzeitschrift für Fernsehen, Film und elektronische Medien

Psychological Esthetics of Working Online

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Mark Wheeler, MA, SRATh, FRPS

Mark has a BAAT registered private practice providing training therapy for therapists in training & Clinical Supervision to qualified arts therapists & psychotherapists. In clinical work, Mark engages families and individuals with their photos & art images and in conversations, often about and with, their family photographs.
During Covid-19 lockdowns Mark developed an innovative art therapy practice designed to make art therapy activities more accessible to young people & families.
In 2021 Mark Wheeler, MA, had many images from this project featured in The Royal Photographic Society book, The Peri-Urban Project. Mark was awarded the inaugural Diamond Phototherapy Award for services to therapeutic photography, in 2018 at a ceremony at the Royal Society in London & Mark holds the Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society.
Mark was Principal Art Psychotherapist in Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust until September 2021. Mark provided Art Psychotherapy, family therapy and clinical supervision in the Child & Family Therapy service, CAMHS.
Mark’s publications include several book chapters. He has appeared on BBC radio and been interviewed and quoted by national magazines. Mark continues to make and exhibit art works including photographs and facilitates workshops at international conferences.

Therapeutic Presence in Online Art Therapy

Amy Lister’s research, Therapeutic Presence in Online Art Therapy, weaves together grounded theory, phenomenology, action research, arts-based research and the theory of therapeutic presence (TP) to explore the relationship between art therapy, the online context and the experience of TP as a precondition to positive alliance and effective outcomes. This research study focuses on the lived experiences of Canadian student art therapists practicing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and explores what helped and hindered TP within online art therapy.
It integrates new insights from the data with findings from previous studies, culminating in a re-imagined approach to practicing in the digital era rooted in ecological connection, and offering practices for before, during and after sessions that help cultivate the conditions for fostering TP during online art therapy. A sneak peak of a practice field guide, “Online-Onland”, (preparing for release in 2024) will also be shared.

Participants will be able to:
1. Explore the synthesis of grounded theory, phenomenology, action research, arts-based research, and the theory of therapeutic presence (TP) in Amy Lister's research.
2. Gain insights into how TP serves as a precondition for positive alliance and effective outcomes in the digital era.
3. Examine the factors that contributed to or hindered therapeutic presence within the context of online art therapy.
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Amy Lister MA, DTATI, RP(Qualifying), PCC, OCT

Amy Lister’s research focuses on ‘Therapeutic Presence in Online Art Therapy’ and is currently completing a field guide, called ‘Online-Onland’,  that offers practitioners ways to nurture experiences of interconnectivity in our hybrid world.

She brings her experience as a leadership coach, an educator, an organizational development consultant within health care, a Work that Reconnects facilitator and, now as an art therapist, to her therapeutic practice, teaching and facilitation work. Amy weaves together art therapy, emotion focused, polyvagal theory and body-based approaches in therapy. She supports individuals, caregivers and care professionals, to use creative process as a way to tap into embodied wisdom and develop practices for emotional regulation when navigating change, loss and transition across the lifespan. Through supporting people in this way Amy hopes to nourish and expand individuals’ capacity to care for themselves, each other and the wellbeing of all living beings.

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Highlights and Challenges of Online Art Therapy: Insights From Young Adults with Challenging Life Experiences

This presentation presents key learnings from my doctoral research undertaken at the University of Melbourne, exploring the meaning, impacts and limitations of an individually-tailored brief online art therapy program from the perspectives of 15 young adults (mostly university students) identifying as individuals with various challenging life experiences.
Online art therapy, like numerous other remote health and support services, has become prominent in recent years, particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This qualitative and arts-based study also employed videoconferencing for individual therapy sessions, responding to the restrictions imposed on face-to-face contact during the global pandemic. Subsequently, useful insights into the unique benefits and challenges of this approach were shared by the participants.
This study offers practical insights into the conditions that are conducive to and constraining young adults’ safe and creative self-exploration through remote connection. I aim to share and discuss the implications with the professionals interested in promoting the mental health, wellbeing and creativity of young adults and university students.

Learning objectives:
Participants will be able to:
1. assess the effects of individually-tailored brief online art therapy on the mental health of young adults facing challenging life experiences, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. recognize and analyze the unique benefits and challenges experienced in remote art therapy for young adults, drawing from insights gained through participants' experiences with videoconferencing sessions.
3. analyze practical applications and considerations for professionals seeking to support mental health and foster creativity in young adults and university students using remote art therapy approaches.
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Jae Eun (Jane) Song, PhD, MA

Jae Eun is a South Korean immigrant woman, a visual artist, a sessional educator, an art therapist and a counsellor. She has over a decade of experience in facilitating art therapy with children, young people and families in community-based mental health and trauma care organisations and also with university students primarily in Australia. Between 2019 and 2023, Jae Eun undertook doctoral research exploring the meaning and unfolding process of a brief online art therapy program during the COVID-19 global pandemic, particularly as experienced by young adults facing various life challenges. Jae Eun’s professional and research interest remains dedicated to advancing wellbeing and mental health and diversifying accessible pathways of creative self-exploration and care for young people who have encountered adversities.

Online Communities, Archetypes and Art Therapy:  a New Frontier

This presentation covers the pioneering virtual art therapy during COVID, on working online with women and archetypes in art therapy, the healing power of artistic creation, art journaling including case studies and personal experiences, the rise of online events and art therapy and creating online communities through art in French language. The presentation emphasizes the blend of traditional art therapy with modern online platforms and its therapeutic impact on many.
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Alice Albertini, MA

Alice Albertini is a French-Canadian art therapist. She is the creator of the Sommet d'art-thérapie francophone, an online event designed to federate art therapy in French and exchange of practices since 2020.
During the pandemic, this online conference in French enabled thousands of people to follow lectures by professionals from both Canada and Europe. Since 2022, her organization IFCAT  (Institut de Formation Continue en art-thérapie) offering also some professional trainings on Expressive Therapies Continuum and Assessment.
Alice Albertini holds a master degree in art therapy from Concordia University (Montreal, QC). She believes that art and creativity are powerful medicines for the body, heart and soul, and are transformative. Her approach includes the symbolic, mythical and metaphorical aspects of images, the creative process and the humanist aspect in my helping posture. She’s been holding many art therapy workshops with archetypes and myths online and in person (Quebec and France).

Online Art Hive - A Virtual Public Practice Art Therapy Initiative. Highlights and Challenges

In response to the social isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the emergence of online art hives became a pivotal means to extend community services. This adaptation of the art hive methodology to a virtual setting was a novel approach, catalyzing a pioneering shift. These for therapists, integral to a collaborative initiative between Concordia University Art Hives and engAGE Living Lab under the guidance of Professor Timm-Bottos, will offer insights into their experience navigating this transition to the online realm. Through shared narratives from the community, they aim to elucidate the transformative journey and practical intricacies involved in initiating an online art hive. Their presentation will not only chronicle their pioneering efforts but also provide actionable advice and essential requisites for individuals seeking to establish their own online art hives.

Participants were able to:
1. explore the process of transitioning traditional art hive methodologies to an online setting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. analyze the experiences of art therapists involved in pioneering this shift, understanding the challenges faced and strategies employed.
3.  examine the impact of online art hives on community engagement and connection, as shared through stories and experiences recounted by participants. Evaluate the transformative potential of virtual art hives in fostering community amidst isolation.
4. acquire actionable insights and essential guidelines from experienced art therapists for initiating and managing an online art hive.
5. gain practical advice on the necessary resources, methodologies, and considerations required to launch and sustain virtual art therapy initiatives.
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Carmen Oprea, MA, MFA, ATR-BC, RCAT

Carmen is a registered art therapist with post-graduate training in sandplay therapy and cognitive-behavioural therapy. Holding three master's degrees in art therapy, fine arts, and design, she is currently a doctoral candidate in psychology.
Her professional career includes art therapy services for individuals and groups of all ages with various life challenges at her clinic, Accès Art. She offers supervision sessions to creative arts therapists. She deeply resonates with Indigenous wisdom and strives to provide culturally sensitive art therapy to Inuit and First Nations adolescents.
She is involved in research projects related to art therapy and depression at at Concordia University. Previously, she was the Research Coordinator for the project engAGE Living Lab at the same university, where she was fortunate to be part of a dedicated team who collected evidence for public practices in a local mall and to see the community growing. She is committed to promoting accessible art therapy for individuals and communities.
Carmen is the main organizer and the host of this conference.
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Lindsay Clarke, MA, ATR, RCAT, CCC

Lindsay believes in the importance of nurturing community and creativity. For the past 10 years she has provided art therapy at a women’s shelter, schools, and art hives. She has enjoyed developing and facilitating community art exhibitions to support the voices of those who have survived violence, the impacts of suicide, and living through homelessness and mental illness.
She now offers art therapy to people of all ages at her Montreal studio, atelier lanterne. Her practice is with a focus on art making and creative process as a catalyst towards change, health, and empowerment. Her work is guided by principles of trauma-informed, attachment-based, and strength-based art therapy practices.
Lindsay provides supervision to individual art therapists and also within a community context, in order to facilitate ongoing growth, curiosity, and support.
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Natalí Ortiz, MA, ATPQ

She has a masters from Concordia University’s MA in Creative Arts Therapies, Art Therapy option. Currently, Natalí is working in school setting with First Nation children and as an art hive facilitator for Concordia University Art Hives. She was previously a research assistant at the engAGE Living Lab project.
She has gained clinical art therapy experience with groups and individuals, from diverse backgrounds and contexts, in various areas, including geriatrics, attachment difficulties and complex trauma. In her home country, Ecuador, Natalí has also worked on art projects with survivors of sex trafficking and adults with developmental disabilities, as well as with street youth in Uganda.

Natalí has a social justice, decolonial, feminist, and intersectional lens, which inform her art therapy approach and studio practice. She is in a continuous self-exploration of her racialized identity through her art and hopes to continuously contribute to the fight against systemic oppression.
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Diana Vozian, MA, RCAT, CCC

Diana is an art therapist graduated from Concordia University, Montreal. She is currently receiving clients in private practice at the clinic Mindsession Intercultural Psychology. She is working with individuals seeking support while coping with anxiety, depression, stress, loss, trauma, and other mental health and well-being issues. 
She was previously part of the Concordia University Art Hives, being facilitator in both in-person and online offerings.
She believes that there is something very special about art therapy: the quality of giving oneself the time to be curious about what makes them the person that they are and the world around them, in a creative and playful space.

Day 2, February 18, 2024

Balancing Innovation: Exploring Ethical and Therapeutic Frontiers with Generative Artificial Intelligence in Art Therapy

Generative AI (GenAI) images often mirror and amplify inherent human biases, such as racism, ageism, sexism, and ableism, hindering efforts for diversity and inclusion in art therapy. Furthermore, the potential for plagiarism, misinformation, and the devaluation of artistic labor poses existential and ethical threats to human creativity, originality, and transparency. While GenAI-based mental health apps hold the potential to enhance accessibility, provide empathic care, and alleviate clinicians' administrative burden, certain apps incorporating features of GenAI art creation and art-viewing may misinform the public about art therapy.
This presentation prompts a critical dialogue among international art therapy communities, delving into strategies to harness the power of GenAI technologies to enrich therapeutic experiences and ensure ethical and responsible use. Achieving balance between the risks and benefits requires a comprehensive understanding of GenAI mechanisms and their impact on users.

Participants will be able to:
1. evaluate the ways in which Generative AI (GenAI) in art therapy reflects and potentially amplifies societal biases.
2. explore the hindrances caused by biased AI-generated images in fostering diversity and inclusion within art therapy, addressing issues such as racism, ageism, sexism, and ableism.
3. examine the ethical challenges posed by GenAI in mental health apps, including the risks of plagiarism, misinformation, and the devaluation of artistic labor.
4. assess how these factors impact creativity, originality, and transparency in art therapy practices and their implications for the wider field.
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Nancy Choe, PhD, LMFT, ATR-BC

Nancy Choe is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a board-certified art therapist. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Marital and Family Therapy with Specialized Training in Art Therapy at Loyola Marymount University. Dr. Choe has a special interest in using an interdisciplinary approach to foster holistic and creativity-driven wellness. Her research in art therapy focuses on digital media tools, narrative medicine, the expressive therapies continuum (ETC), and post-traumatic creativity. Based in Los Angeles, Dr. Choe facilitates group workshops for companies and healthcare organizations, aiming to alleviate burnout and cultivate resilience through everyday creativity. In incorporating advanced technologies like virtual reality and generative artificial intelligence into art therapy practice and pedagogy, Dr. Choe emphasizes both digital literacy and ethical considerations.

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Sze-Chin Lee, MAAT, AThS, LPC

Sze-Chin Lee is an art therapist, art educator and artist in Singapore. He has worked across diverse art therapy settings, specialising in healthcare consulting for art therapy, and arts and health related programming.
Sze-Chin has a keen interest in socially engaged art practices that involve communities in collaborative interactions. He believes that a thriving arts and health ecosystem requires the collaboration of numerous contributors and stakeholders to maximise the arts' full potential to enhance people's lives in creative, practical and meaningful ways.

Virtual Art Therapy Clinic: Reducing Anxiety Levels with Virtual Art Therapy

This presentation will focus on the online clinic opened at CiiAT during the pandemic, looking at the lessons learned, the highlights and challenges encountered on the way. Also, this clinic hosted a research project exploring the effects of art therapy on anxiety. In this quasi-experimental pilot study, the efficacy of virtual individual art therapy in reducing anxiety among 87 adult clients was examined. Using Likert ten-point scale questions, graduate student art therapists at CiiAT measured anxiety levels before and after sessions. Results revealed a significant reduction in anxiety from the session's start to finish and a further 45% reduction compared to the past week's anxiety levels. These preliminary findings suggest remote art therapy as a suitable modality for anxiety, notably during global crises like the recent pandemic. This study navigates challenges while emphasizing student training and diverse virtual therapy delivery.

Participants will be able to:
1. Explore the process and experiences encountered while establishing an online clinic at CiiAT amid the pandemic.
2. Examine the lessons learned, highlights, and challenges faced in transitioning to virtual therapy delivery, considering its impact on client engagement and service provision.
3. Investigate the results and methodology of the quasi-experimental pilot study assessing the impact of virtual individual art therapy on anxiety levels among adult clients.
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Michelle Winkel, MA, ATR, MFT, REAT, RCAT

Michelle Winkel is an art therapist, trained facilitator, and clinical supervisor with thirty years of experience working directly with groups, families, and individuals. From 2004 to 2005, she held a fellowship in Infant-Parent Mental Health from Harvard Children’s Hospital. Currently, she is the Clinical Director and Co-Founder of the non-profit Proulx Foundation and CiiAT.
She co-created the innovative Virtual Art Therapy Clinic in 2020, which has provided 5000+ sessions to clients across 19 countries in 9 languages. Michelle is the editor and co-author of Virtual Art Therapy: Research and Practice and is the author, with Dr. Maxine Junge, of Graphic Facilitation and Art Therapy: Imagery and Metaphor in Organizational Development. Currently, she is on the editorial board for the Canadian Journal of Art Therapy: Research, Practice, and Issues. Michelle served on the Canadian Art Therapy Association Board of Directors as Education Chair and Vice President 2012-2020.

Using a Secure Platform for Remote e-Art Therapy Workshops to Alleviate the Emotional Distress of People in Confinement or Quarantine

Faced with the Coronavirus disease impacting the mental health of the population, art therapy is developing new practices. Our objective is to invite participants to an individual digital experiential workshop of e-art therapy to express their anxiety through a creative medium and create distance from it. This new practice, initiated on the secure platform, is transforming the triad: participant, art therapist, and medium. This platform provided ten free sessions to healthcare workers at the onset of the pandemic and later to individuals suffering from Long COVID.
We aim to investigate whether the adoption of digital platforms in art therapy helps alleviate the emotional distress of individuals in confinement or quarantine due to illness.
Using the platform, we employ a new setup, albeit fraught with constraints and uncertainties. Participant security remains crucial despite digital disparities and vulnerabilities. Addressing technical difficulties, we explore how psychologists on the platform compensate for myriad ways of connectivity issues. Ethical concerns, the secure space of the art therapist, and the dematerialization that triggers the abstraction of the art therapist will be discussed.
Rethinking the virtual workshop leveraging the opportunities offered by digital technology will be an advancement for research.

Participants will be able to:
1. explore the efficacy of employing secure digital platforms for e-art therapy workshops in mitigating emotional distress among individuals in confinement or quarantine due to illness. 
2. analyze the potential of these platforms in providing a creative outlet to alleviate anxiety and foster emotional distance from distressing experiences.
3. evaluate the complexities and challenges associated with implementing digital art therapy, focusing on ethical considerations, participant security, and the role of art therapists in a dematerialized setting through case examples and testimonies.
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Emmanuelle Cesari, MA

Emmanuelle Cesari holds a master's degree in art therapy from the University of Paris V Descartes in France and a diploma in cyber-psychology from the University of Paris VII Diderot.  Specializing in traumatology, she gives workshops to victims of attacks, victims of child abuse, and migrants and refugees. 
Since the first containment, she has been holding videoconferences with people who have had the coronavirus and are working on their fear.

Video Making in Therapy: A Powerful Art Process for Our Time

Video making has captured the imagination of people from around the world and offers an inspiring new art process for therapists. Through the screening of a therapeutic video and by observing a group creating a mindful film, this presentation opens up the simplicity and benefits of the video making process in therapy. We will explore how the creation of different video products align with specific therapeutic approaches that engage different levels on the Expressive Therapies Continuum. In closing, I will introduce ethical approaches to working with digital media.
At the end of this presentation, the participants will be able to:
1. explain how video making is therapeutic.
2. summarize the art process, types of video products, and clinical approaches in making therapeutic videos.
3. determine if and how you would use filmmaking in your own professional practice.

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Bevan Klassen, MA

Bevan Klassen is an art therapist, educator, and filmmaker.
As a member of the Canadian Art Therapy Association, Bevan practices as an associate at an Art Therapy clinic and operates a private practice in Winnipeg, Canada. He uses a variety of art mediums with those he helps and specializes in video making as therapy. He is an instructor of digital storytelling at the Winnipeg Holistic Expressive Arts Therapy (WHEAT) Institute.
Bevan has developed unique therapeutic video making processes helping a variety of individuals and groups. This has included adults with cancer, young adults living at a temporary shelter, and children and adolescents with traumatic pasts. His passion is in helping others experience the immersive power of video making as a multi-modal restorative process.
Before becoming an Art Therapist, Bevan made small independent films exploring identity and personal healing for over 25 years as a member of the Winnipeg Film Group. He received his Art Therapy education at the WHEAT Institute.

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VR Integration in Palliative Art Therapy

In this presentation, Jessica will overview the past decade of virtual reality (VR) development and its application in art therapy and palliative care. While studies focusing on VR in palliative care multiply, research emerges on its use in art therapy, highlighting its benefits in creating a 3D immersive world via tools like Tilt Brush. Although the connection between art therapy, VR, and palliative care remains unexplored, art therapy in palliative care has proven beneficial over two decades. She will focus on VR's potential benefits in art therapy for adult palliative care clients that became pivotal, considering the recent application of VR in both fields. Jessica is presenting the conclusion of her integrative literature review, amalgamating findings from art therapy and palliative care, art therapy and VR (including Tilt Brush), and VR in palliative care. The presentation uncovers potential therapeutic spaces and benefits of using Tilt Brush in adult palliative care art therapy, offering control, security, and creative avenues while mitigating pain through distraction and immersion, albeit with reservations on validity and VR limitations. Her theoretical research lays the groundwork for future research and therapeutic applications of VR in this domain.

Participants will be able to:
1. explore the historical context and recent advancements in virtual reality technology, particularly in its integration within art therapy and palliative care.
2. explore the key features of VR tools like Tilt Brush and their role in creating immersive therapeutic environments.
3. analyze the theoretical and practical implications of applying virtual reality in adult palliative care within the context of art therapy.
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Jessica Lauzon, MA

With a Bachelor's in Visual Arts, a certificate in Psychology, and a Master's in Art Therapy from UQAT, Jessica specializes in pediatric palliative care, nurturing a career that began as an arts accompanist for seriously ill children during her Visual Arts Bachelor's at UQAM in 2010.
The years at Phare Enfants et Famille, where she has been accompanying children in palliative care since 2011, honed her skills in adapted leisure and accompaniment, intertwining with her passion for art. Completing a year-long internship at Maison St-Raphael further fused her knowledge of palliative care and art therapy.
Her presence at conferences as Community of Accompanists through Arts in Palliative Care (Maison Michel Sarrazin, led by art therapist Marcia Lorenzato), Quebec Palliative Care Congress (Trois-Rivières, 2017), and Forum on Polydisability (CHUM, 2023) underscore her commitment to innovatively merge art and therapy for healing.
In 2012, Jessica founded the Association of Art Therapists Without Borders, a non-profit organization with the mission of promoting, raising awareness, and organizing projects involving arts-based interventions in Quebec and internationally. These diverse projects were carried out with several organizations, bringing together artists, educators, and professionals.

Creativity in the Virtual Studio: Digital Art Psychotherapy in the Arabian Gulf

Art psychotherapy maintains effectiveness when it is moved to the digital space (Levy et al., 2018; Spooner et al., 2019; Zubala et al., 2021), but culture’s impact must be considered. Digital art psychotherapy has two regionally relevant benefits: reducing stigma (Wong et al., 2018) and enhancing access (Collie & Čubranić, 1999; Levy et al., 2018). Access to art psychotherapy is limited as few art psychotherapists practice in the region, and there is limited awareness of the profession. However, art can become a tool to address the challenges of stigma. Privacy and confidentiality must also be reconsidered, as collective cultures perceive the therapeutic relationship differently (Al-Krenawi & Graham, 2000; Pope-Davis et al., 2001). Art psychotherapy in a digital studio requires awareness of the shifts in the power dynamics, and creativity plays an essential role. We hypothesize that when creativity is mindfully integrated, we can observe increased empowerment, engagement, and appreciation for the unique benefits of art psychotherapy.

The participants will be able to:
1.    Evaluate the effectiveness of digital art psychotherapy
2.    Examine the regional benefits of digital art psychotherapy
3    Explore cultural considerations in digital art psychotherapy and the nuances of cultural impact on privacy, confidentiality, and therapeutic relationships in the context of digital art psychotherapy.
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Natalia Gómez-Carlier, MAAT, ATR-BC

Natalia, originally from Colombia, has a degree in Psychology from Universidad de Los Andes, a master’s in art therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is a Ph.D. student of Transpersonal Psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies, and is a Registered Board-Certified Art Therapist with the American Association of Art Therapy. Natalia was co-founder and president of the Colombian Art Therapy Association, taught at universities, frequently presented at International Mental Health Conferences, and is a published author. She has been an art therapist since 2005 and has practiced in Bogota, Chicago, New York, Muscat, and Dubai. Natalia is trained in psychodynamics and adapts different techniques and modalities according to the needs of each individual –incorporating CBT, Gestalt, Brief Therapy, Depth Psychology, Transpersonal, Mindfulness, and other modalities; the uniqueness of each individual orients therapy. Natalia speaks English and Spanish fluently and is a 300HR Jivamukti Yoga Teacher.
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Sara Powell, AThR, MBACP, HCPC

Sara is from the UK and grew up in the Gulf. She is the founder of ATIC Psychological Counseling Center. Sara is a registered Art Psychotherapist (HCPC) and psychotherapist (MBACP) with the Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) UK and a member of the British Association of Art Therapists. Sara has over 12 years of experience providing psychotherapy to children, young people, adults, families, and groups. Sara is a mother to three young children and, during her pregnancy, observed a need for perinatal and postnatal mental health as well as an overall lack of early intervention available for children six years and below, which led Sara to the introduction of ATIC’s Early Intervention and Development services. Sara has overseen numerous projects consulting Government agencies in Singapore and UAE. Sara is a published author and has presented at many national, regional, and international conferences.
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