Feb. 6, 2024
The American Art Therapy Association represents a diversity of professionals, students, and organizations across the nation. We recognize and celebrate the work of our members at all levels through our Featured Member series.
Join Bani Malhotra February 13th for the final installment of AATA’s 2024 virtual Supervision CE Series. During this session, Bani and David Gussak will draw upon their past collaborations to discuss the differences between supervision and mentoring while clarifying the particular value and benefits of a co-evolving mentoring dynamic. The potential challenges and opportunities of a mentoring relationship between people of different cultural identities will be further explored. Register here.
“My adventurous and fulfilling journey in art therapy wouldn’t have been possible without the fantastic mentors I had along the way. I urge the art therapy community to connect and collaborate, and create opportunities to train and learn with the next generation of art therapists.”
— Bani Malhotra, PhD, ATR-BC
^ Bani with her colleagues at the 2022 International Shared Interest Group meeting.
Tell us about your involvement with AATA? What keeps you excited about the AATA community?
I first got involved with AATA as an international member from the other side of the world in hopes of accessing art therapy education. I am so grateful to get access to educational resources, networks of individuals with specialties, to scholarships and leadership opportunities. There is something for everyone at AATA! Our field is evolving and I urge others to participate in this dynamic community to help move our field forward.
I am currently the acting chair for the AATA’s International Shared Interest Group and have worked as an intern with AATA in 2018. I feel thrilled to have been a part of the team at AATA that shaped the online community forum.
What excites (or inspires) you most about your job right now?
As a scientist-practitioner, I feel incredibly excited and privileged to think of ideas to shape art therapy and mental health research and see them come to action in collaboration with the clients and the community.
Has working with a particular client group shaped your professional focus or specialty? What have you learned from working with these clients?
I am particularly keen to shape my professional focus to create greater accessibility of art therapy for individuals at the margins. My doctoral and postdoctoral work emphasizes access and adaptation of therapeutic services available to individuals with injury and visible/invisible disabilities and their caregivers. Before my PhD, working with individuals in forensic settings expanded my perspective on identity, adjustment, and rehabilitation process, which I continue to hone in on.
How have race, diversity, and/or social justice impacted your work as an art therapist?
I consider race, justice, and matters of DEI part of my identity and my professional mission to foster critical dialogue and equitable spaces in my different roles as a clinician, researcher, and educator. Advocating for diverse voices in the field, particularly in art therapy scholarship, creating opportunities for mentorship and cross-cultural dialogue through AATA’s International SIG, and reflection on my work with varied clients are ways I continue to contribute to dialogues of intersectionality.
Photo embroidery >
This photo embroidery is an artistic reflection on a poem by an Indian poet and lyricist Gulzar called मोड़ (Crossing) that reflects on the journey of the roads through different landscapes and the potential opportunities at crossroads. The final lines of the poem being “I sit at a turn from where Roads lead in all directions” (translated by Pavan K Varma, Selected Poems).
I created this artwork at the crossroad of imminent graduation from PhD in art therapy, reflecting on the possibilities of art therapy applications and career paths.
About Bani Malhotra, PhD, ATR-BC
Bani Malhotra, PhD, ATR-BC is a Registered Board-Certified Art Therapist and a researcher. She recently completed her doctorate in Creative Arts Therapies from Drexel University and has assisted in several federally and locally funded research studies on traditional arts, pediatric oncology, and veterans at the Health, Arts, Learning and Evaluation (HALE) Lab at Drexel University. Her professional interests include using interdisciplinary science to develop, implement, and evaluate art therapy and arts interventions for health and wellness, especially in the context of stress, injury, or illness.
A graduate of George Washington University and Delhi University, Dr. Malhotra has extensive experience providing counseling and art therapy services to individuals across the lifespan in medical, forensic, psychiatric, and school settings in India and the United States. She currently serves as a Chair for AATA’s International Shared Interest Group and is a visiting lecturer at the Maharashtra Institute of Technology’s MFA Art Therapy program in India. Dr. Malhotra is a 2024 Clinical Research Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University implementing research with caregivers of Traumatic Brain Injury.