April 7, 2021 | Jill McNutt, PhD, ATR-BC, LPC, ATRL, ATCS, Research Committee Chair

Research is a foundational component for the provision of evidence-based practice in social sciences. The Research Committee of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) is committed to “encouraging, supporting, and promoting a broad base of research that is grounded in diverse methodologies.” The research agenda of the committee is informed by the Delphi study of Kaiser and Deaver (2013) that identified priorities of methods, research questions and populations of particular importance to the field. The Research Committee, in tandem with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the Board, and Multicultural Committee of the AATA supports the curation of an inclusive narrative. Participation in the ongoing research agenda, conversation, and programming supports both developed and developing merits of evidence-based art therapy practice within the US and around the world.

Opportunities to participate in research and learn more about the status of evidence-based practice in art therapy include, annual research grants and awards, paper and panel presentations at the annual conference and a student poster presentation that includes both graduate and undergraduate contributions. Research awards and grants are offered annually to members of the AATA. Current and upcoming applications can be found at 2021 Award Schedule on MyAATA.

The 2021 research awards and grants include:

  • Rawley Silver Research Award (2),
  • Seed Grants for Clinical Art Therapy Research, and the 
  • Gladys Agell Award for Excellence in Research. 

The Rawley Silver Research Award is an ongoing research award offered every year. Its benefactor, Rawley Silver Ed.D., ATR-BC, HLM was committed to advancing the field of art therapy through research. Voting member(s) of the AATA are eligible to submit research proposals for the Silver Research Award. Research proposals are assessed by the review team in terms of viability in moving the field of art therapy forward. The award provides a maximum of $1,000 to annual recipients. The 2020 Silver Award recipients were: Sara Miller for a program evaluation of a community-based studio serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities using arts-based and focus group data collection, and Ikuko Acosta and Marygrace Berberian for a controlled, bio marker study evaluating group art therapy for Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Ikuko Acosta (left), Marygrace Berberian (center), and Sara Miller (right).

AATA funds are available for seed grants over the next two years to advance research within art therapy. The Seed Grant for Clinical Art Therapy Research will be granted to a clinician-researcher collaboration and is intended to support the generation of new research within the field of art therapy. This grant is open to art therapists around the world and requires at least one principal member of the collaboration to be a member of the AATA. The 2021 seed grant offers a maximum $6,000 award. The 2020 Seed Grant recipients were Nancy Gerber and Theresa Van Lith for their project, “Developing a Strategic Plan for Research in Art Therapy: A Multi-phase Sequential Exploratory Mixed Methods Approach.” 

The Gladys Agell Award for Excellence in Research is given each year to a graduate student in art therapy who is a student member of the AATA. To qualify for this award, the student research must be applied art therapy research and incorporate a statistical measure. The student research must be completed within one year prior to the award application. The maximum award is $250. 

More opportunities for graduate students include an invitation to participate in the Student Poster Presentations at annual conferences each year. The research committee manages the graduate posters and the Education Committee manages undergraduate posters for exhibition. Participation in the poster exhibition offers students the opportunity to share and discuss their work with practicing art therapists and other researchers.

In efforts to maintain the accessibility of research to the AATA and to the public, the Research Committee also works to compile the following databases, Art Therapy Outcomes Bibliography (updated Jan. 2021), Art Therapy Assessment Bibliography, and National Art Therapy Thesis and Dissertation Abstract Compilation. Additionally, the AATA Multicultural Committee compiles a Selected Bibliography and Resource List (updated Aug. 202). The Research Committee is pleased to serve the AATA and looks forward your participation.