April 22, 2024 | By Juliet L. King, PhD, ATR-BC, LPC, LMHC

The Research Committee aims to promote excellence in research and recognize the achievements of both students and professionals through these awards.

At AATA2023, we celebrated the work of many AATA members who received awards during the annual ceremony held at the conference. With this year’s awards applications in mind, we invite you to take a look at a few of the winners below and their research commitments to art therapy. Mia, Mary, and Heesu are inspiring to the AATA community, as are the other recipients who won awards last year.   

Applications for this year’s research awards are now open, and on behalf of the Research Committee, you are encouraged to submit an application or nominate a colleague or peer. The research supporting the art therapy profession is integral to its growth and recognition. Whether you are an art therapy professional or student interested in exploring a new concept or are seeking to raise awareness about your ongoing research, we hope you will take a moment and read Mia, Mary, and Heesu’s bios—and consider applying this year!

The deadline has been extended for the 2024 awards, honors, and scholarships to May 28!


Mia de Béthune, PhD(c), ATR-BC, LCAT, ISP/SEP

2023 Winner, Rawley Silver Award

2023 Winner, Ellen Horowitz Spirituality Award

Mia de Béthune, PhD(c), ATR-BC, LCAT, ISP/SEP is an artist, art therapist, and educator who has been on the faculty of the New York University Art Therapy Program for fourteen years. Her clinical experience includes foster care, residential treatment, and bereavement counseling in hospice.

She is also a Reiki Master in the Usui, Transcendental, and Holy Fire® Karuna traditions and has a private practice working with children and adults. Training in Somatic Experiencing, Integral Somatic Psychology, Inner Relationship Focusing, Somatic Meditation and various art therapy based methods such as Guided Drawing, Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy, and Somatic Art Therapy has allowed her to integrate various disciplines to help both clients and students. Somatic training has led her to doctoral research in expressive arts therapies at Lesley University, in Cambridge, MA. Her focus is on methods of embodied pedagogy in art therapy.

She is also a member of the Upstream Gallery in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. After living in the Hudson Valley of NY for 30 years, she now divides her time between her NY studio and Portsmouth, Rhode Island where she shares a farm with her husband, a small gray cat, and a large strawberry patch.

About Mia’s Research

Mia’s research proposal for the Silver Award focused on body-based protocols in art therapy influenced by trauma theory and somatic approaches. Mia is an experienced art therapist who calls upon a range of theories and science to complement her established art therapy philosophy and approaches to treatment. Mia emphasizes the significance of touch, both interpersonally and via the haptics of art materials in their relation to proprioception and kinesthetic awareness. Mia’s keen interest in neuroscience includes exploring how biomarkers can reveal physiological changes in therapy.

Mia de Bethune receiving the Rawley Silver Research Award, which supports art therapy research studies in the proposal stage, at AATA2023.

She is a committed to the importance of storytelling and the development of personal narratives as crucial to trauma-informed care. With a deep understanding of somatic experiencing and as a Reiki practitioner, Mia’s expertise revolves around the processing of emotions within the body. She draws on the work of Peter Levine and Raja Selvam, founder of ISP (Integral Somatic Psychology) in support of integrative theories that capture the body-mind-spirit- and soul throughout the transformative nature of therapeutic practice.. Mia’s dedication to ethical principles, such as informed consent, confidentiality, beneficence, respect for autonomy, justice, and professional integrity, is evident in her work.


Mary Andrus, DAT, LPC, LCAT, ATCS

2023 Winner, AATA Seed Grant

Mary Andrus has a doctorate in art therapy and is a board certified registered art therapist, a certified supervisor and a licensed professional counselor. She has been teaching art therapy and supervising students for over a decade in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest.

Mary has focused her career on expanding the lens of the practice of art therapy, shifting toward liberatory community centered practices. As a teacher she values depth education, creating space for students to examine societal context, use art to know oneself and creating equity in the relational wellbeing within the classroom. Her scholarship focus is on expanding clinical practice beyond traditional practices, the use of film and exhibition in reintegration and implications of art therapy in the treatment of collective trauma.

She is co-chair of the Art for Social Change committee at Lewis and Clark, and is the founder of Art Therapy Studio Chicago Ltd. She has worked with a wide variety of populations in various settings including; community mental health, nursing homes, therapeutic day schools, independent living, inpatient psychiatric hospital and developed a free art therapy program for uninsured pregnant women suffering from perinatal depression. Her clinical orientation is from a narrative, feminist, social constructionist orientation. She specializes in the treatment of trauma and has completed her Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) training to treat trauma resolution with clients.

In 2017, Mary was a driving force in the successful effort to secure licensure for art therapists in Oregon.

About Mary’s Research

Mary Andrus and Kate Feddersen were awarded the AATA seed grant to support their project focusing on using biomarkers and physiological measures to understand art therapy interventions. This work builds on Feddersens’ master’s thesis and has helped raise awareness within the community about the importance of art therapy and neuroscience research. The project is wholly interdisciplinary, which involves graduate assistants to expedite the research protocols and an external stats team to examine the results.

Dr. Mary Andrus being presented with the Seed Grant Award in 2023, which funds an art therapy research study in proposal stage.

Their project examines the material properties and media used in art therapy, drawing from theories like the Expressive Therapies Continuum (ETC). The project explores what happens when making art after experiencing stress, as well as how technological advances can enhance our understanding of art therapy theory and intervention strategies.

Mary, as an educator and program director, believes that understanding physiology and neurobiology enhances art therapists’ work and is an important direction for the profession. She is committed to understanding how social norms and societal systems exacerbate stress and illness, and how art therapy extends beyond the clinic into communities to destigmatize the experiences of those exposed to trauma. Mary emphasizes the value of graduate art therapy education as a time to explore new ways of thinking, perceiving, and engaging in the world.


Heesu Jeon, PhD, MA, RCC

2023 Winner, Gladys Agell Award for Excellence in Research

Dr. Heesu J. Jeon, a registered art therapist in Vancouver, Canada, has been honored with the 2023 Gladys Agell Award for Excellence in Research for her contribution to the art therapy field, particularly her work with older adults with dementia.

With a career spanning 15 years, she has shared her expertise in various settings, including educational programs and care homes, demonstrating the profound effects of art therapy on the quality of life of various populations.

Currently serving as an Assistant Professor and Director of Training at Adler University’s Vancouver Campus, Dr. Jeon is deeply invested in nurturing the next generation of art therapists.

When not immersed in her professional endeavors, Dr. Jeon finds balance and joy in spending time with her daughter and their dog, Mr. Benjamin, at their serene cottage. It is in these quiet times that she finds balance and renewal, embodying the essence of compassion in both her life and work.

About Heesu’s Research

Dr. Jeon’s dedication extends beyond the classroom as she continues to explore the therapeutic potential of art for enhancing the lives of older adults. This commitment is exemplified in her doctoral research, which focused on the Expressive Therapies Continuum (ETC)-based art therapy interventions, revealing notable improvements in cognitive functioning and overall well-being among older adult participants.

Heesu’s aspirations include furthering her research to uncover more about how art therapy can positively impact older adults. Her work not only demonstrates the value of art therapy in clinical practice but also emphasizes the importance of ongoing research in the field.

AATA celebrates Dr. Jeon’s accomplishments and looks forward to her future contributions, highlighting the critical role of research in advancing art therapy and enhancing older adults’ health and quality of life.


Dr. Heesu Jeon receiving the Gladys Agell Award for Excellence in Research at AATA2023 for research in art therapy interventions based on the Expressive Therapies Continuum framework with older adults with dementia.