Ecological Models

Exploring Ecological Models: Nature- and Community-Based Models in Creative Arts Therapies

February 10-11, 2024
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Day 1, February 10, 2024

Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life

This presentation delves into the profound therapeutic dimensions of our connection with nature, emphasizing its role in our lives. The discussion explores the intricate web of deep communication that exists between humans and nature for millenia, that we are connecting through unstructured play in natural settings and quieting our internal world and allowing nature to act as a co-regulator of our senses.

Drawing from the philosophical, scientific, and experiential realms, Richard Louv, introduces key concepts from his works. Themes such as "species loneliness" are explored, challenging the notion of human solitude by encouraging an awareness of the myriad sounds and voices within the natural world. Louv's insights reveal the bending of time and the potential for meaningful communication with nature when we take moments to attune ourselves to its rhythms, however, a skill that is less accessible to youunger generations.

This presentation offers a comprehensive exploration of the therapeutic dynamics inherent in our relationship with nature, inviting participants to reconsider their connection to the natural world and the transformative potential it holds.

At the end of the presentation, the participants will be able to:
1.     analyze the multifaceted therapeutic roles that nature plays in our lives, exploring concepts such as unstructured play, nature as a co-regulator, and the profound communication experienced in natural settings.
2.    acquire knowledge on the philosophical, scientific, and experiential concepts around the nature as a source of well-being, and learn how to apply these insights to enhance one's appreciation for and connection with nature.
3.    get insights in the concept of "species loneliness" as presented by Richard Louv, challenging traditional notions of human solitude and understand how embracing the sounds and rhythms of the natural world fosters a sense of connection, dispelling the idea of loneliness when attuned to nature.
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Richard Louv

Richard Louv is a journalist and author of ten books, including Our Wild Calling: How Connecting With Animals Can Transform Our Lives - And Save Theirs, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age, and Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life: 500 Ways to Enrich Your Family’s Health & Happiness. His books have been translated and published in 24 countries, and helped launch an international movement to connect children, families and communities to nature. He is co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Children & Nature Network, an organization helping build the movement.

He appears frequently on national radio and television programs, including the Today Show, CBS Evening News, and NPR’s Fresh Air. He speaks internationally on nature-deficit disorder, a concept he first introduced in Last Child in the Woods; on the importance of children’s and adults’ exposure to nature for their health, and on the need for environmental protection and preservation for greater access to nature and the health of the Earth. Among others, he has presented keynote addresses at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference; the USC Institute for Integrative Health Conference; the first White House Summit on Environmental Education; the Congress of the New Urbanism; the International Healthy Parks Conference in Melbourne, Australia; and the national Friends of Nature Conference in Beijing, China.

In 2008, he was awarded the national Audubon Medal; prior recipients included Rachel Carson, E.O. Wilson and President Jimmy Carter. He is also a recipient of the San Diego Zoological Society Conservation Medal; the George B. Rabb Conservation Medal from the Chicago Zoological Society; the International Making Cities Livable Jane Jacobs Award; the Nautilus Gold Book Award: the Garden Club of America award; and the Cox Award, Clemson University’s highest honor for “sustained achievement in public service.” In 2018, he received an Honorary Doctorate from the NewSchool of Architecture & Design.
Additional information on Richard’s books can be found in the books section of this website:

Nature-Based and Equine-Assisted Expressive Arts Therapy™

Nature-Based approaches are increasingly becoming part of healthcare as a form of restoration. Similarly, nature or ecotherapy is a rapidly growing area within mental health with new research studies emerging that inform the practice of psychotherapy, including expressive arts therapy. This presentation defines two conceptual frameworks for practice – Nature-Based Expressive Arts Therapy and Equine-Assisted Expressive Arts Therapy™—in order to define how nature-focused interventions re-sensitize body, mind, and spirit to health and well-being. A “Continuum of Nature-Based and Eco-Focused Expressive Arts Therapy Practices,” Restorative Embodiment™, bilateral stimulation (BLS), and an overview of key sensory integration (exteroception, interoception, and proprioception) are described in order to provide a structure for using expressive approaches within nature therapy. The overall goal of this presentation is to identify core concepts that every arts-based practitioner who integrates nature or ecotherapy in psychotherapy should know.

Participants will be able to:
1)    Define Nature-Based Expressive Arts Therapy as an evidence-informed form of psychotherapy;
2)    Define Equine-Assisted Expressive Arts Therapy as an evidence-informed form of psychotherapy grounded in nature therapy;
3)    Define the four components of Nature-Based and Eco-Focused Expressive Arts Therapy;
4)    Define how nature-focused therapy enhances exteroception, interoception, and proprioception;
5)    Define the term “restorative embodiment” as a core concept of nature-based expressive arts therapy;
6)    Define the role of bilateral stimulation in nature-based and equine-assisted expressive arts therapy approaches.
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Elizabeth Warson, PhD, ATR-BC, LPC, NCC, EMDRIII, EXAT, EAPII is the founder of American Indian Art Therapy, based on her faculty research associated with the Graduate Art Therapy Programs at George Washington University and Eastern Virginia Medical School (2004-2013). Elizabeth currently resides in northern Colorado where she maintains an equine-assisted EMDR and arts-informed EMDR private practice, Healing Pathways LLC as a certified EMDR and Eagala professional. As a faculty member for the Trauma-Informed Practices & Expressive Arts Therapy Institute, she teaches in person and online poly-informed, equine-assisted, and bilateral stimulation/sensorimotor-informed expressive arts therapy courses. Since 2003, her research interests comprise stress and pain reduction interventions for American Indian cancer survivors and their family members, culturally responsive stress reduction and visual journaling, and trauma-informed interventions. Elizabeth is a recipient of a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts (folk and traditional art) for a community-driven Coharie Heritage Empowerment Project, focusing on cultural preservation.

Elizabeth received her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1989 and an M.A. in Art Therapy from Vermont College of Norwich University in 1993. She completed her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a specialization in research, from the School of Education at Colorado State University in 2008. Elizabeth has presented at regional and national American Indian and Alaska Native conferences on topics related to medical art therapy, stress and pain reduction interventions, culturally-responsive art therapy, visual journaling interventions, and narrative-based art therapy. Her publications comprise over 20 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters in books. As a professional artist, she has exhibited her sculptural work nationally and internationally and is a recipient of an Ohio Arts Council fellowship award.
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Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT

Cathy Malchiodi PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT is the executive director of the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute, works as a consultant to the Department of Defense, and an investigator on a five-year grant with the US Department of Education, integrating trauma-informed expressive arts into classrooms.
A popular presenter and workshop leader, she has given over 700 invited keynotes and workshops throughout the US, Canada, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. She has authored 20 books, including the bestselling Trauma and Expressive Arts Therapy: Brain, Body, and Imagination in the Healing Process and Understanding Children’s Drawings. Her publications have been translated in over 20 languages.

Presenter's site:

Eco-Art Therapy in Practice

In this presentation, Dr. Amanda Alders-Pike will examine the research-based strategies presented in her book Eco-Art Therapy in Practice. The focus is on providing clear and practical steps for seamlessly integrating nature into therapeutic sessions, aiming to elevate client engagement and enhance overall outcomes. Attendees will not only gain theoretical foundations but also practical tools, including easy-to-follow, one-page protocols and intake forms. These resources are meticulously designed to facilitate the straightforward implementation of eco-art therapy in real-world practice. The objective is to empower participants with a tangible toolkit, allowing them to effortlessly incorporate the therapeutic benefits of nature into their sessions. Through this focused exploration, therapists can create meaningful and transformative experiences, fostering a deeper connection between clients and nature within the therapeutic context.

Participants will be able to:
1.  explore the theoretical underpinnings of Eco-Art Therapy, gaining insights into research-based strategies and methodologies for seamlessly integrating nature into therapeutic sessions
2. acquire practical tools and resources essential for implementing eco-art therapy in their professional practice.
3. analyze the easy-to-follow, one-page protocols and intake forms provided in the presentation.
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Amanda Alders Pike, PhD, ATR-BC

Amanda Alders Pike, PhD, ATR-BC, is a board-certified art therapist and past president of the Florida Art Therapy Association. She is currently education chair for the Palm Beach County Native Plant Society and having her private practice in Palm Beach County. She authored a book called Eco-Art Therapy in Practice, bringing new clinical concepts and research-based strategies in eco-art therapy.

The Studio and the Art Materials of an Eco-Art Therapist

In this session, Laila delves into the principles and practicalities of eco-art therapy, shedding light on the essential components that define an eco-art therapy studio. Covering a diverse considerations encompassing lighting arrangements, spatial layout, selection of objects, and choice of materials, she navigates the nuances that therapists need to factor in when constructing a conducive studio environment. Attendees will gain valuable insights into the intricate design elements that contribute to a harmonious and therapeutic studio space for eco-art therapy sessions.

Participants will be able to:
1.    acquire a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental elements required in an eco-art therapy studio.
2.    explore considerations like lighting, spatial arrangement, selection of objects, and suitable materials;
3.    gain insights into creating a therapeutic environment conducive to eco-art therapy sessions.
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Laila Devalié, MA

Laila is a Danish eco-art therapist with a passion for integrating art, nature, and body movement into her therapeutic practices. With a four-year study in Integrative Art Therapy from the Danish Institute for Art Therapy and a one-year special education as a nature therapist, she has cultivated a deep understanding of holistic healing.
Based in the serene setting of a forest in northern Denmark, Laila's therapy garden and studio serve as a sanctuary for her clients. Here, she offers therapy sessions, workshops, and educational programs that harness the power of art, nature, and movement to promote well-being.
In 2023, Laila founded the Danish Institute for Nature-Based Arts, Crafts, and Movement Therapy, and she currently serves as the chairwoman at the Forest Lab "Aesthetica," dedicated to therapeutic arts, health, and nature. Laila is an active member of the European Federation of Art Therapy's special interest group for Eco Art Therapy and also holds board positions in the Danish Association for Outdoor Therapy and the Northern Denmark Artist Union.
With a background in art and social pedagogy, a bachelor's degree as an art teacher, and over two decades of experience working with children and teens in various settings, Laila brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her practice. She has also received certifications in TFT, NLP, therapeutic dance, Qigong, yoga, and meditation, further enriching her therapeutic toolkit.

Integrating Ecological Concepts into Art Therapy Methods

This presentation will examine the application of Ecology to art therapy by exploring methods including indigenous storytelling, images, symbols and travel into practice. It will explore how we can create a springboard for experiential learning and find personal meaning inspired by our natural world and applying ecological models. This concepts are the basis of a future trip organized with the art therapy students in Ireland, with the goal of immersive living, studying, and connection with another culture, that inherently expands the students worldview.

The participants will be able to:
1. explore the integration of ecological concepts into art therapy practices.
2.  investigate the utilization of ecological models as a springboard for experiential learning within art therapy.
3. gain insights into the transformative impact of immersive experiences, specifically the planned art therapy trip to Ireland.

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Dr. Annette Vaccaro, Ed.D., LPC, SCPsyA, ATR-BC, ACS, ATCS

Dr. Annette Vaccaro is an art therapist, psychoanalyst and a psychotherapist with a general practice, and a specialty in clinical supervision, in Livingston, NJ. She is the Director of Academic Affairs, At ACAP, Academy of Clinical and Applied Psychoanalysis (, and its academic partner ICPS, the Institute of Counseling and Psychoanalytic Studies. Dr. Vaccaro is an Associate Professor at Caldwell University and coordinator of their Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a Specialization in Art Therapy Master’s degree program.

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Alexandra Vaccaro, BSc, MA(c)

Alexandra Vaccaro holds a BS in Zoo Science from Delaware Valley University and has worked with mammals at the Bronx Zoo as a zookeeper and currently works at the Raptor Trust. She is a candidate in the Master's degree program in Biology with emphasis in scientific inquiry at Miami University. Her research interest is the integration of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) into education and to support environmental stewardship.

Round Table: Diverse Perspectives on Nature-Based and Eco-Art Therapy

The Round Table on nature-based and eco-art therapy convenes speakers from six countries, showcasing their groundbreaking work. Each presentation unveils visuals or succinct method introductions, providing insights into their therapeutic approaches. Discussions delve into the nuances of their practices, exploring contextual highlights and challenges influenced by diverse cultural contexts, traditions, and available resources. The speakers will share narratives of transformation or ongoing impactful projects, followed by a free discussion around highlights and challenges of their practice.
The participants will be able to:
1. analyze different cultural perspectives exploring how nature-based and eco-art therapies are adapted within varied contexts.
2. analyze the contextual challenges and highlights faced by therapists in their respective countries.
3. evaluate the impact of country-specific factors on the efficacy and implementation of nature-based and eco-art therapies, through presented projects and case studies.
4. get insights and advice from experienced practitioners, empowering aspiring creative arts therapists.

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Susannah Horwitz, MA, LPC, LMHC

Susannah is a trauma-informed, nature based expressive arts therapist and licensed professional counselor, with dual licensure in Massachusetts and Colorado. She received her Masters degree in Intermodal Expressive Arts Therapies from Lesley University in 2003. She was an expressive arts therapist and director of the Project Launch college and career access program at RAW Art Works from 2004-2013. Susannah is a certified EMDR therapist and is also currently completing a 10 month training with Integrative Psychiatry Institute to become a certified psychedelic assisted therapist (expected May 2024).  In her private practice, she loves to bring therapy clients "off the couch" and into the outdoors for therapy retreat intensives to help them connect with the multifaceted powers of imagination, sense of humor, playfulness, and creativity to heal trauma and thrive. In addition to her practice, she is the founder of the Well-Connected Therapist coaching program, which she created to support introverted private practice therapists to build community through embodied, authentic connection.
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Shuna Mercer, MA, BAPT

Named after a small Scottish island on the West coast of Scotland, Shuna's playground was a 35 acre natural woodland behind her house. She spent hours climbing trees, making dens and creating a world out-with and with-in.
Shuna left home at 17 to go and study theatre and drama in the big smoke of Edinburgh. 21 years ago her path led her to train in Play Therapy. Over 10 years ago she suddenly had an epiphany moment and decided to take her practice out of the clinical setting and immerse and play once again in nature with the belief that nature's healing properties would help her and her clients. As well as running her own private practice for one to one, groups and womens campfire circles, Shuna provides clinical supervision and training to other therapists and practitioners to have the confidence to take their practice into mother nature. She is a forest school leader, children in permaculture leader, therapeutic forest leader and life long learner.
You can find out more on her website
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Ritu Dua, MA

Ritu Dua is an art therapist and obtained her MFA in Art Therapy in 2023 from MIT-ADT, SOFA University, Pune, India. Prior to this she has years of experience as a visual artist, educator, and writer. Currently she is associated with Mpower minds, an Aditya Group Education Trust initiative located at Aditya Birla Hospital, Pune as Art Therapy Consultant. She is also associated with Center for Mental Health, Baner Pune in the same capacity. In the past she has worked with children with special needs, with underprivileged children, women groups and also for The Red Pencil Humanitarian Mission in their  art-based capacity building and training program in India.
She is passionate about integrating nature-based art therapy interventions, traditional healing techniques and contemplative practices to help individuals heal and recognize their own innate beauty and wisdom as it is reflected in the nature and in their own creativity. She regularly participates in art exhibitions and her artworks and installations reflect her love for nature and sustainable practices.
Besides adopting a holistic approach in her work, helping people discover their voice, values, and self-connection, she is working towards creating mental health awareness to end the stigma associated with mental health in her country.
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Céline Girardon, MA

Céline Girardon has an unique journey from industrial engineering to certified Forest Bathing guide and art enthusiast. Céline brings a fresh perspective to Nature-Based Solutions, using the transformative potential of Forest Bathing in driving organizational change.
She is interested in how the convergence of art, nature, can change group dynamic and how strategic change management fosters holistic organizational evolution for companies' staff. She is offering a distinctive Spanish viewpoint on Nature-Based Solutions at her company Caordic,
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Cyndie Bussière, MA, ATPQ

Cyndie is a French Canadian art therapist and eco-art therapist based in Quebec. She also integrates mindfulness, movement, ritual and nature as therapeutic supports in her practice. She began her career as an art therapist, working with children in a pediatric center. Currently, she is now working in private practice, offering art therapy and eco-art therapy services in individual and group sessions for adults, children, and adolescents. Additionally, she offers art therapy sessions online and in person to youth in Indigenous communities in the North of Quebec.
She works within humanistic, systemic, and psychodynamic frameworks. At the core of her practice is a client-centered methodology, emphasizing a holistic view of clients and addressing essential topics such as self-awareness, self-esteem, trauma, life transitions, anxiety, emotional regulation, mourning, relationship dynamics, empowerment, and spirituality.

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Susan Spyker, MPS.AT, CAT

Susan has a master’s of art therapy, psychotherapy, and spirituality from St Stephen’s College in Edmonton, AB, Canada. Her rural living lifestyle and her land being infuses her spirit. She is a
school counsellor and art therapist for the Maskwacis Education and Schools Commision presently working with age 3 to almost 12 year olds. She is also on faculty with St Stephen’s College teaching Introduction to Intermodal Expressive Arts Therapy and, in the not too distant future, Introduction to Dance/Movement Therapy. No matter what she is working on or where she is working a connection to nature, natural elements, and the environment has prominence.
Susan led a group of art therapists for a writing project where each of the team members werepublished. Her poetic response, What If  …., and art invitation is in the Kutenai Art Therapy
Institute’s publication Walking With: An emerging dialogue with art therapists in the cultural commons edited by Tzafi Weinberg and Monica Carpendale.

Day 2, February 11, 2024

Habitats of Composition: The Walking Studio and Biodiversity Gardening

Pamela Whitaker is an art therapy educator who has developed both the walking studio and biodiversity gardening as contributions to environmental art therapy. A walking studio supports wayfaring through either urban or natural landscapes to encourage arts based responses using photography, found object assemblages or spoken word poetry. The route of travel is curated to include places of interest that also prompt conversations about urban design, street art, place names, local history, the built environment and social concerns. Biodiversity gardening is a form of companion planting that enhances home and community landscapes by cultivating nature for the purpose of either food production, apothecary gardens or for the growing of art materials (natural dyes, sculptural materials, seasonal displays and plants from healing traditions). Gardening can compose nature installations through ecological designs and become a focus point for developing horticultural skills that encourage creative expression through environmental activism. Community gardening contributes to quality-of-life indicators related to achievement, self-efficacy, participation, lifelong learning, pride of place, and belonging. Both the walking studio and biodiversity gardening are public art forms that support place making through an intentional gathering that brings people together for the purpose of co-creation within the outdoor studios of their lives.
The participants will be able to:
1.    examine the components of walking studios developed by Pamela Whitaker, evaluating how the intentional curation of travel routes in urban or natural landscapes contributes to encouraging arts-based responses.
2.   evaluate the functional aspects of Biodiversity Gardening.
3.   appraise the societal impact of community gardening, exploring its contributions to various quality-of-life indicators.
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Pamela Whitaker, PhD, MA

Pamela is an art therapist living in Ireland, who practices under the name of Groundswell (, a social enterprise working in the areas of art therapy, art and participation, environmental arts, and arts and health.

She trained as an art therapist in Vancouver and has worked in Canada, Malaysia and Ireland and is currently the course director for the MSc Art Psychotherapy training at the Belfast School of Art, Ulster University (Northern Ireland).

Pamela has written chapters for the books Materials and Media in Art Therapy (edited by Catherine Hyland Moon), Art Therapy and Postmodernism (edited by Helene Burt), Bridging the Creative Arts Therapies and Arts and Health (edited by Donna Betts and Val Huet), Found Objects in Art Therapy (edited by Daniel Wong and Ronald Lay) and Ecopoiesis: A New Perspective for the Expressive and Creative Arts Therapies (edited by Stephen K. Levine and Alexander Kopytin).

She has written editorials and articles on environmental art therapy, material culture, festival art therapy and art therapy pedagogy and has been a conference keynote speaker for the Canadian Art Therapy Association, the Hong Kong Association of Art Therapists and a visiting artist at LASALLE College of the Arts.

Organic Structure - A Radically Creative Approach to Practice

An interconnected, organic structure is inherent to my practice-led, art-based approach. In the context of global domination by the patriarchal/colonial/capitalist/medical model and its associated discourses, institutions, ‘evidence’ and procedures, using an organic structure to inform professional practice might be considered radically creative. However, for myself and many other creatives, this way of working feels completely natural, enjoyable, and frequently enables surprising and unimagined things to be brought into being. Sometimes, the unimagined things that are birthed into existence, can take the shape of artefacts, awarenesses, ideas, relationships and understandings. These unexpected and surprising things can have incredible ripple effects into the world, creating waves of joy, wonder, health and wellness.

This will be an interactive, workshop-style presentation. We will explore how interconnection and organic structure are practice values that can flow through - and become guiding stars for navigating - creative inquiry in therapeutic practice, supervision, research and social change work. I provide examples from each of these practice realms to illustrate and connect with the audience. Expect some organically structured creative activities for participants to engage in. Be prepared for a conversation that invites us to collectively imagine the ripple effects and implications of an interconnected, organic structure, how it disrupts clinical approaches, and opens up infinite possibilities for how radically creative our work can be.

Participants will be able to:
1.  explore the concept of an interconnected, organic structure within therapeutic practice, with its contrast with dominant patriarchal, colonial, capitalist, and medical models.
2. analyze how interconnection and organic structure serve as guiding principles across various realms of therapeutic practice, including clinical work, supervision, research, and social change endeavors.
3. engage in organically structured creative activities within the workshop, a firsthand exploration and understanding of how an interconnected, organic structure operates in therapeutic practice.
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Carla van Laar, MCAT, ThA.D

Dr Carla van Laar is an Australian born woman of European/Nordic heritage, artist and creative arts therapist, who lives and works in Boon Wurrung Country in the small coastal town Inverloch, Australia. With over 30 years’ experience working in the arts for health and well-being in community organisations, justice, health and education contexts, Carla is driven by her conviction that the values underpinning arts-based practice are essential for healing our troubled world. She has authored two books and multiple articles.
Carla currently works with local war veterans and their families, and provides online supervision for practitioners around Australia. She regularly gets involved in creative projects that ignite her interest.
Carla is the Founding Director of the Creative Mental Health Forum and Self Care Retreat, lead campaigner in the ACTivate Arts Therapy campaign, and Convenor of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA)’s College of Creative and Experiential Therapies.
Her website can be found at

Nature Connection as a Way of Expressing Ourselves Creatively

There are many ways that we can incorporate nature into art. The natural world is a masterpiece itself. It is full of colour and shapes. Nature has been the subject of art ever since humans started expressing themselves on cave walls. Let’s take Indigenous art for example. Rock art has been a way to tell story and tells us about ancient human experience. Art is a powerful communicator in that it can both express a point of view and invoke feelings at the same time. This presentation will be an opportunity for interactive discussion around the various ways we can use nature connection as a way of expressing ourselves creatively and finding solutions to our own problems.  We will discuss the importance of accessing the right side of the brain and how we can tune in to our intuition and creativity using the process of nature-based mindfulness. This does two things. It allows us to develop a deeper connection to nature and at the same time becomes a therapy as it allows us to express ourselves and tell our story.

Participants will be able to:
1. examine the historical and cultural significance of nature in art, drawing insights from Indigenous rock art as a means of storytelling.
2. analyze how nature-based mindfulness enhances the right-brain function, fostering intuition and creativity.
3. will examine how nature connection can serve as a catalyst for creative problem-solving and offer solutions to personal challenges through artistic means, encouraging a deeper exploration of the therapeutic potential of nature-based mindfulness in creative expression.
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Kit Kline, MSW

Kit Kline is a social worker and the founder of Nature Based Therapy.   She was born in Canada, a descendant of the Wampanoag people on her paternal side and migrated to Australia in 1982.   Kit has 20 years’ experience working in the mental health sector both in mainstream and Aboriginal community healthcare.  Her work consists of implementing nature-based interventions and takes a holistic approach to working with people supporting them to find and work with their authentic self.  Kit holds a masters in social work and also a masters and bachelor’s degree in Aboriginal studies.  Her post graduate qualifications in mental health, alcohol and other drugs, welfare, holistic healing, youth work and training and assessment and psychotherapy ‘compassionate inquiry’.  Kit lives on the surf coast of Victoria in Australia, has four children and enjoys spending time in nature, traveling, and learning about different cultures.

Lived Lessons Learned from Indigenization. Rematriation. EcoActivist Frontlines

We as heARTivists, healers, artists, art therapists, activists  and teachers dedicate Time and Energy to Creative Processes and Pathways for ongoing Recovery from multiple forms of Traumas. We continuously work, play and pray to heal Fragmentation, to repair Wounds and Scars received in his.Storical and ongoing Battles to act for, with and against Dominant and Still Dominating Colonial Patriarchal Systems.  In these current Times of Rapidly Escalating Environmental Devastation, We, like Earth Mother are currently subject to spiraling Conditions of Oppression, Injustice, Abuse, Polarization, Capitalization and Extractivism.  Be Opened to what We have learned and now teach about SustainAbility as Lived through our LIFETime Journey of Indigenization, ReMatriation, and Ecological InterDependence, shared though Response Arts and Poetic Inquiry.

The participants will be able to:
 1.    explore how heARTivists, healers, artists, and art therapists use creative processes to facilitate ongoing recovery from various traumas, emphasizing the interconnectedness of personal, cultural, and environmental healing.
2.    examine the ways in which heARTivists, activists, and teachers contribute to healing de-fragmentation, repairing wounds, and addressing historical and ongoing battles against colonial patriarchal systems.
3.    analyze the concept of SustainAbility as presented by the speaker.
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Fyre Jean Graveline, DAT, RSW, RCAT

Dr. Fyre Jean Graveline is a two-spirited resilient survivor, a Métis Grandmother, healer, heARTist, activist, and educator. Fyre  specialises in creating a sustainable expressive arts healing practice through an Indigenous, eco-arts-based lens. Working in education and social work for over forty years, she/they  have consistently challenged individuals and organisations to examine their oppressive, eurocentric, patriarchal attitudes and practices.

In addition to this, Fyre is the author of Circle Works: Transforming Eurocentric Consciousness (Fernwood 1998) and Healing Wounded Hearts (Fernwood 2005).  Still emerging is the newest book LIFE as Medicine: Creating TransFormative Change.  Being a knowledge keeper and community activist, Fyre Jean is an incredibly powerful and grounding person to talk with.

Round Table: Highlights and Challenges in Pioneering Creative Arts Therapies in Africa

Abstract: The Round Table on African art therapy convenes speakers from a few African countries, presenting groundbreaking work in the field. Each panelist will reveal visuals or succinct methods used in their work, offering insights into their therapeutic approaches. Discussions delve into contextual highlights and challenges, influenced by varied cultural contexts, traditions, and resource availability. Speakers share transformational narratives or impactful ongoing projects, leading to an open discussion on practice highlights and challenges in African art therapy.
Participants will be able to:
1.    analyze how African art therapy is adapted within varied cultural contexts, exploring its nuances and adaptations across diverse cultural perspectives presented by the speakers.
2.    explore the unique challenges and highlights faced by African art therapists across different countries.
3.    assess how country-specific factors impact the efficacy and implementation of art therapy.
4.    gain insights from experienced practitioners in African art therapy on realities of conducting art therapy in their respective country.
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Mavis Osei, PhD, MA

Mavis Osei Ph.D. is a Ghanaian painter, art educator, art therapist and a Fulbright alumnus. She has a BA in Art and a PhD in Art Education from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana. She also has a Diploma in Mental Health Studies from Alison, and an MA in Clinical Art Therapy from Long Island University, New York.
She is an affable and dedicated Senior Lecturer at KNUST, with ten years of university teaching experience demonstrating constant success as Professor and Art Therapist in undergraduate  and postgraduate education teaching courses like Educational Psychology, Psychology of Human Development and Learning, Art Therapy, and Aesthetics and Criticism. She has also authored an Art Therapy postgraduate programme for the university, the first of its kind in the sub-region. She was the Head of Department, Educational Innovations in Science and Technology, KNUST between August, 2018 and July, 2020.
Mavis has an array of publications to her credit.
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Kamal Naran, MA

Kamal Naran is an artist and HPCSA registered student Art Therapist in South Africa. Completing his Masters in Art Therapy at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in 2023, he stands as a member of the inaugural cohort of South African art therapists. Kamal serves as an Assistant Lecturer in the Art Therapy and Visual Arts department at UJ, contributing to both practice and academia. As one of the first Art Therapists to intern at a University center for psychological services, Kamal showcases a commitment to integrating art therapy into diverse therapeutic settings. His educational journey includes an Honours degree in both Fine Arts from the University of Pretoria, and with distinction in Art Therapy from UJ.
With extensive experience in the non-profit sector, particularly at Lefika La Phodiso, Kamal completed the Community Art Counselling training course and is a course trainer. He has facilitated art counselling groups across age groups and provided counselling services in schools. Kamal's contributions extend to literature and art, co-authoring and featuring in "Holding Bodies – School Holiday Programme," and contributing to the Wits Art Museum publication ‘Seen, Heard and Valued: WAM celebrates 40 years of the Standard Bank African Art Collection.’ His article, "Connecting over art: utilizing art collections in programmes to promote connection, engagement and learning," not only earned publication but inspired the title of the WAM publication.
In academia, Kamal published in the South African Journal of Arts Therapies, contributing to the first-ever Arts Therapies journal in South Africa. He has shared his insights at various conferences, blending artistic talent with a dedication to therapeutic practices and academic excellence.
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Sanaa Abouayoub, MA

Sanaa Abouayoub is a Moroccan multidisciplinary artist and a certified art therapist from Vancouver Art Therapy Institute. She is currently based in Morocco and has worked with marginalized populations in Canada, Kenya and Uganda. She is committed to social justice issues and uses art therapy to encourage self-expression, healing and empowerment. In 2018, she has founded Joy Of Arts, a social enterprise offering art therapy and creativity workshops and trainings for healing and social change.
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Franca Ma-ih Sulem Yong, MA, MS(c)

Franca is a Poet, art therapist, psychologist, and former journalist. She is the Executive President of Afrogiveness, who creates a safe space for youths to heal and connect through arts. Also, she leads the organization Positive Youths Africa (PYA) as President. PYA is a hub for positive and upward striving youths, striving to counter the spread of online hate speech by raising awareness and by engaging youths to use the same digital media they use negatively to contribute to the SDGs. She was previously a lecturer at International University of Bamenda, Cameroon, teaching  Educational leadership.
She is pursuing a masters of science in Psychology and a masters of art in International Communications and Public Affairs, as well as a diploma in art therapy.
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Swizen Atwine, BA

Creative Arts and Theatre Practionner with Bachelors Arts in Drama of Makerere University Uganda, Swizen is Co-Founder and Operations Director for Creative Arts for All Refugees (CAFAR Foundation) a registered non profit CBO and NGO that uses the power of creative arts and drama based interventions empowering social change, advocacy, awareness, capacity building as well as resilience, confidence and social cohesion within marginalized and vulnerable communities.
Swizen is a passionate and committed Theatre /drama expert in Uganda with over 9 years of experience in creative arts and drama based industry. He has worked with different local and international Organizations the recent being Windle International Uganda (WIU)a leading education partner  for  UNHCR in all the Refugee Settlements in Uganda. While at WIU Swizen coordinated all Youth Engagement activities that focused on nurturing talents among the Refugee Youth in and out of school to create a life long learning opportunity. Swizen has been a coordinator for Artolution International as a project coordinator ,theatre trainer Advance Africa, Consultant GIZ, Actor and Theatre Director Rafiki Theatre, Theatre Director hiccup Circus Uganda.
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Sarah (Sarafina) Kruger, MA

Sarah (Sarafina) Kruger is an Expressive Arts and Play Therapist working in Northeastern Kenya. She is the Director of Pepo La Tumaini Jangwani (The Wind of Hope in the Desert), a community based rehabilitation organisation serving vulnerable children and families in the northeastern region of Kenya.
Sarafina specialises in working with diverse marginalised groups including refugees, prisoners, youth offenders and people living with HIV.
She has worked extensively with indigenous communities in sub Saharan Africa, partnering with national government and international humanitarian agencies.
Sarafina is both a clinical and pyschosocial practitioner who works with individuals, families, groups and communities.
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Dr. Manal Elewah

Founder and CEO of ART2CARE Program, the first art therapy program in the Middle East dedicated to children with cancer, and their families, launched in Cairo, Egypt in 2013. ART2CARE Program has provided Art Therapy to children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer.
In the past 10 years, Dr. Elewah has presented her program in over 100 international conferences, organized over 2000 training workshops, participated in over 100 exhibitions, and conducted over 5000 art therapy sessions with population in need.
Dr. Elewah is holder of PhD in Healthcare Environmental Management from USA, Psychotherapy Diploma from Bulgaria, Certified Specialist Psychodrama Practitioner from UK, Specialist Sand Tray from Egypt, Certified Therapeutic Arts Practitioner and Certified Expressive Arts Therapist from Canada.
Dr. Elewah values art as a means to assist/heal/support individuals in dealing with complex and confusing emotional issues. She continues to help children deal with the realities of painful medical procedures, using Art Therapy to develop emotional strength and stability.
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