Please note, this article has been edited to reflect the deadline extension from June 15 to July 15, 2020. 

May 7, 2020 | Girija Kaimal, EdD, MA, ATR-BC, President-Elect


Thanks to the generosity of our donors, two exciting seed grants to promote art therapy research were funded in 2018. This was a first in the 50 year history of the AATA. Read about these two initial projects, one funded to study art therapy as a treatment for pain and the second to support immigrant and refugee mental at the US/Mexico border.

We are delighted to offer another Seed Grant for Art Therapy Clinical Research this year! Find details on the 2020 application process below. If you have an innovative and collaborative research idea, make sure to submit your application by the July 15, 2020 deadline.

Below are brief summaries of the two 2018 seed grant recipients. Both research projects are in progress. Despite a temporary freeze due to the pandemic, both are scheduled to be completed later this year.


Effectiveness of Art Therapy Interventions for Adolescent Pain Management in the Pediatric Emergency Department


Principal Investigators: Susanne Bifano, MPS, MSED, LCAT, ATR-BC; Daniel Tsze, MD, MPH

Pain is one of the most common reasons for patients to visit the emergency department (ED), and can be treated using both non-pharmacological/integrative and pharmacological strategies. However, children are often under-treated for pain. There have been variable efforts made to improve the ED management of pain in children, but there are no studies evaluating integrative strategies for adolescents that could not only improve their overall care, but minimize their exposure to opioid analgesics and associated adverse events; empower them to become active participants in their own treatment plan using creative strategies; and minimize severe psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression. This prospective observational pilot study of art therapy examines the effects of art therapy interventions in the ED for adolescents (n=50) aged 12- 18 years with moderate to severe pain. We aim to demonstrate that patients with painful conditions will benefit from our patient-centered treatments and find relief from their pain. In addition, this study will provide us with the data necessary for designing randomized controlled trials of art therapy either as a sole intervention, or as an adjunct, compared with current standard modalities of pain treatment in EDs (e.g. opioids).


Working Around the Border: Shared experiences of Art Therapists working with families impacted by immigration and political realities in Mexico and the US  


Principal Investigators: Einat Metzl, PhD, ATR-BC, RYT, and Ana-Laura Treviño, MFT

Research in the general literature highlights the psychological impact of hardships leading to immigration and legal insecurity, the complexity of immigration across generations, leading to challenges with socioeconomic and psychological integration, and the complexity of expressed and internalized attitudes toward immigrants, which impact their wellbeing. Recognizing the need for culturally specific interventions to support immigrant and refugee mental health, this art-based research explores the perceptions and experiences of art therapists working with families impacted by immigration on both sides of the US-Mexico border. Specifically, art therapists from southern CA and the Tijuana areas working with immigrants and their families were invited to participate in several consultation groups, initially parallel and then jointly to creatively explore key challenges, potentials of art therapy interventions, and finally proposing further clinical strategies and trainings for clinicians working with this population on both sides of the border. The design of this study draws from grounded theory framework, informed by Photovoice practices and Participation Action Research (PAR) and is currently in progress.

2020 Seed Grant for Art Therapy Clinical Research


This award is given out to a clinician-researcher collaboration to support the generation of research in art therapy. Find details on the 2020 Award Schedule on MyAATA.

Eligibility Criteria for Award:

  • The grant requires a clinician-researcher collaboration and is open to art therapists worldwide.
  • One of the Principal Investigators must be a member of the American Art Therapy Association, Inc.
  • The grant period can be up to but no longer than two years in length.

Submission Requirements:

  • Application Form
  • Proposal narrative and supporting documents must be submitted as one pdf document.
  • Submit to, subject line: SEED GRANT.

Click here to learn about additional research awards available in 2020.