May 18, 2023

On May 20th, AATA is hosting a panel discussion with Asian/Asian American art therapists. Join us as we hear from the panelists on how they embody the contexts behind being Asian and Asian American art therapists. They will be sharing their stories, perspectives, and their visions for the future of art therapy through their artworks. Register here.

For this blog, we asked some of the panelists more about their work and their art in honor of Asian American Heritage Month.

How have you used art to honor your Asian heritage?

“As a multicultural Asian-American, I have continued the journey of exploring the immigration experiences of the elderly Lao and South Korean communities in my work and practice.  Through the use of art and art expression we can help facilitate greater self-discovery and discussion about the difficult stories or experiences that a lot of immigrants and refugees have. Providing an opportunity for the elderly Asian communities to share their stories through art has allowed for intergenerational connection and understanding.” 

Joyce Yip Green, PhD, LMFT, ATR-BC

How does your Asian heritage intersect with your work as an art therapist?

“I would characterize the relationship between my work as an art therapist and my cultural heritage more as a fish’s relationship to the water it inhabits, rather than a simple intersection of two lines or two concepts. This comparison implies that, much like a body of water in constant interaction with its environment, my cultural heritage is ever-present and dynamic. Cultural heritage is not merely a combination of tangible and intangible inheritances from the past. It is a living manifestation of our history in the present, influencing the ever-evolving culture that fosters communal belonging, shapes identities, and makes meaning in life. To me, this is one of the fundamental aspects of being.
At the heart of my art therapy practice is the concept of “relationship.” This dynamic interchange between myself and the individuals I work with forms the bedrock of our therapeutic relationship. In order to support people in exploring their curiosity, broadening or challenging their self-understanding, I hold myself accountable to engage in self-reflexivity in relation to the “water”—that is, the cultural context—that informs my perceptions of people and the world we inhabit. For instance, in the relational-cultural framework guiding my work with survivors of sexual violence, the way we talk about, or do not talk about power dynamics, control, taboos, societal norms, body autonomy, gender roles, and family values directly impacts the development of a therapeutic space that centers well-being and recovery. Reflecting on culture and heritage is, therefore, more than a means to learn, or unlearn, certain knowledge shaped by our worldview. It is, in fact, an ethical practice in itself.”
— Tsz Yan (Winnie) Wong, MAATC, ATR (She/her)