November 15, 2018  | International


In Tokyo on Tuesday, November 13, Second Lady Karen Pence announced a $55,000 grant from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to support a pilot art therapy program at the University of Tsukuba.  Congratulations to International AATA Member Cheryl Okubo, ATR-BC, recipient of this prestigious grant!

Okubo earned her MA in art therapy from the University of New Mexico before moving permanently to Japan, where she has made it her mission to bring a rigorous art therapy curriculum to the country. “There are currently hundreds of psychologists, psychiatrists, artists, counselors, and hobbyists practicing some form of ‘art therapy’ in Japan” she told the AATA. “Students need a proper place to learn right here in Japan, without going overseas.”

During the reception at the U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty’s residence on Tuesday, Okubo offered the following remarks:

For the past 27 years I have attempted to bring my knowledge of art therapy to those around me, working out of my home and studio. Now, thanks to the US Embassy Tokyo, Ms. Karen Pence, and Professor Murakami at the University of Tsukuba, this dream will have a much bigger impact on society. And that is what I think our societies need now—authentic art therapy.

The grant will support a two-year curriculum offered by both American and Japanese art therapists for students and faculty at the University of Tsukuba.  Okubo’s ultimate goal is to use U.S. educational guidelines as a model to develop a full graduate program in the future and establish a national registry for professional art therapists.

Karen Pence (third from left) and Cheryl Okubo (center of first row) photographed with University of Tsukuba art and art therapy students.


Cheryl Okubo (fifth from left) photographed with University of Tsukuba faculty and staff involved in the art therapy pilot program.