Founded in 2010, Art Therapy Without Borders, Inc. (ATWB) is a non-profit organization devoted to global mental health. It was a response by therapists to the growing need for wellness and collaboration across nations. ATWB utilizes art to help all people achieve personal health and social relationships.
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The mission of ATWB is to promote all of the wonderful research and advancements emerging from art therapy so that the whole world can benefit. The small goals set forth to reach this mission include forming an international network of professionals, students, and community members; supporting individuals and organizations working to apply art therapy; utilizing social media and other online platforms to promote art and art therapy; and contributing to the existing research. As a 501 (c) 3 incorporation, all of these initiatives are made possible through donations and volunteers.
What is Art Therapy?
To understand why ATWB was created and works so well, it helps to fully understand its method. Art therapy carries a different definition in different parts of the world because art is heavily grounded in culture and tradition. What most cultures have in common is that art alone can be healing and facilitate expression that is difficult with words, whether due to age, emotional trauma, developmental disability, or language barrier. The concept and practice of art psychotherapy take this a step further. This is when art is applied and utilized strategically in conjunction with established mental health practices, to accomplish a particular goal or address a particular issue. In many countries, one must hold an advanced degree or license to say that they practice art psychotherapy. Art in this sense includes any form of creative expression that each individual finds most appealing. Work is never judged on ability.
ATWB is always striving to locate the world's highest needs and formulate the most efficient solutions. Here are some of the projects currently underway:
- War is the antithesis of global health and healing, so ATWB works to set up art therapists with current research and art therapy practices tailored for members of the Military and individuals with war-related traumas.
- Therapists and community members are gathering together to utilize art as a way to advocate for social change.
- Art therapy has recently blossomed in the world of Autism treatment and awareness. Autism is being diagnosed more worldwide, but not yet fully recognized in all nations. ATWB seeks to change that.
- ATWB has more in the works. It is in the process of creating a set of resources for using art therapy to enhance healthcare systems worldwide and provide disaster relief to communities torn apart by natural and unnatural disasters.
In order to broaden its practical scope and ensure multicultural inclusivity, ATWB partners with several organizations. The International Child Art Foundation strives to promote children's creativity and empathy. Dreaming Zebras Community Art Recycling Program provides art supplies to underfunded schools and organizations worldwide. VOFAIR is an organization that facilities international volunteering opportunities. Sankalpa: Art Journeys provides art therapy and other healing resources to women and children in South India.
Flipping on a news station often reveals more pain and suffering across the world than joy and healing. Art Therapy Without Borders moves to change that by promoting and maximizing one of the world's greatest forms of entertainment and expression. Art on its own is therapeutic; imagine the possibilities when combined with leading therapeutic research and practices.