September 23, 2019 | Susan Boxer Kappel, MA, ATR-BC, LCAT, CGP, Conference Chair

Edited October 1, 2019 

Conference registration is still open, so if you have not yet registered, you can still do so online at or by calling the AATA staff at (888) 290-0878 or (703) 548-5860. Preconference registration will be open until October 23rd, and after that you can still register onsite in Kansas City. Come Celebrate 50 Years of Healing Through Art Therapy with us in Kansas City this fall!

Learning Abounds! The conference offers more than 230 educational sessions that provide a rich learning environment for attendees to take away ideas, knowledge, and inspiration to apply to their current positions, practices, and professional development. The conference also provides continuing education and offers both didactic and experiential learning sessions.  There is something for everyone! You can learn directly from your peers while you network, attend a didactic session to hear the latest research and techniques in art therapy, and “learn by doing” with art supplies and directives

A new format we are featuring this year is Pop-Up Learning. We will organize some pre-arranged topics and also offer the opportunity for attendees to post a “Pop-Up” session on a whiteboard to invite others to join.  The sessions are more spontaneous, less structured, and more participatory. They also provide a fantastic opportunity for enhanced networking!

One of our featured Pop-Up learning session speakers is Arzie Umali, MPA, Assistant Director of the Women’s Center at the University Of Missouri in Kansas. She will present a Pop-Up learning session on Friday at 11:00 am called, The “F” Word: Feminism Today…Right Now!  “Feminism is not a dirty word. So why do so many people treat it like one?” In this session we will discuss feminism and feminist activism today and why it is so critical right now as systematic sexism and patriarchy continue to oppress, violate, and victimize women and their rights.” This is just one of our featured presenters and sessions that enrich our program! Stay tuned for more announcements!

The Art Therapy Film Festival. This special annual session showcases selected short films related to the field and practice of art therapy. Each film screening will be followed with a discussion with the filmmaker (if present) and audience reflection. We have a robust and diverse representation with this year’s selected films including: Blue by Ashmi Sheth and Aniket Patil; Sylvia by Meirav Haber, LMFT, ATR; Fierce Love & Art (Trailer) by Laurence A. Becker, PhD & Ron Zimmerman; How Art Heals: Integrating Practice and Research by Hephzibah Kaplan, RATh and Lucy Qandil; Art Therapy at the Department of Juvenile Justice by Lee Cohen, MPS, REACE, ATR-P and Ivo Dovale; Life Choices in Art Therapy by Marco A. Ruggeri; Journey Through Art Therapy by Jane Kwon. Be sure to add this session that will be held on October 31 at 2:45 pm to your conference schedule.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Learning Opportunities at this Year’s Conference.  The AATA Conference Committee has been working with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Task Force of the AATA Board of Directors to ensure that at this year’s 50th Annual Conference we provide ample learning opportunities for attendees to expand their knowledge in this important area for our profession.

We are pleased to announce that Gary A. Smith, Co-Founder and Senior Partner, and Alan A. Klein, Senior Consultant with The Ivy Group will attend and provide a number of learning and discussion options for attendees including:

  • Assembly of Chapters meeting on Wednesday, October 30. The Ivy Group will present,Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: How the Little Things Make a Big Difference. This session is designed for AATA Chapter delegates. The world we inhabit is growing increasingly diverse, in both our professional and personal lives. In recognition of this reality, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) are important drivers of AATA’s strategy for the profession and the association. In this session, Gary Smith and Alan Klein will help AATA Chapter Delegates to understand the key principles of DE&I and how they can attend to grow and leverage DE&I as we work to create the AATA of the future. Chapter delegates are invited to register for the session. To register download the form and submit it as instructed by October 4.
  • Focus Group on Thursday, October 31 at 1:30 pm. Gary and Alan will present, What Makes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Hard?  In this highly interactive session, which will begin with an overview of DEI using a Dimensions model, we will take a serious look at what makes DEI hard in today’s workplace and client space.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Pop-Up Learning, Thursday, October 31. Gary and Alan will also be available during the 12:00 pm Thursday Pop-Up Learning segment.  Here attendees will have an opportunity to meet with the presenters in a small, roundtable discussion group for informal networking and dialogue exchange.

The Conference Committee is also working with the AATA’s Multicultural Committee to offer several additional learning and networking opportunities, including:

  • The Opening Plenary, on Thursday, October 31st at 8:00 am. Our conference will open with a powerful plenary on Thursday morning titled Breaking the Chains of Racial Trauma in Therapy, presented by Dr. Angela Roman Clack; and members of the AATA’s Multicultural Committee, Cheryl Doby-Copeland, PhD, ATR-BC, LPC, LMFT, HLM; Jordan Potash, PhD, ATR-BC, LCPAT; Gwendolyn Short, MA, ATR-BC, LCPAT; and Lindsey Vance, MA, ATR-BC.  This session will describe how racial hostility, discrimination, and harassment are barriers to trust and effective therapeutic relationships.  The audience will discover how to address racial trauma and race-based stress in therapy, particularly with Black clients.  The presenters will also explore how to acknowledge, assess, and reflect on the effects of racism which requires intentional skills, especially in cross-racial therapeutic encounters.  This session will offer one and a half hours of continuing education.

  • The Annual Multicultural Exchange Forum on Friday, November 1, starting at 3:45 pm. This year the Exchange Forum will feature Michael Vance Toombs, an accomplished painter and art activist, founder and CEO of Storytellers Inc., Artist Collective. Mr. Toombs is a community leader and champion for young people and the adult working artists in the Greater Kansas City area. During the Exchange, Toombs will explore the connection of creative place-making and participatory art making as the catalyst for bringing together communities to preserve legacy and bring about healing. Murals are considered connectors of communities that have been used throughout history. Toombs brought together over 2,000 participants from the Topeka area to create a mural which explores the themes of equality and justice, commemorating the 1954 landmark Brown v. Topeka Board of Education (BOE) ruling that struck down racial segregation in public schools. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the AATA, and the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, participants will have the opportunity to pay homage to the creative place-makers that have paved the way for the important work of legacy and healing during this session.
  • The Piece by Piece Quilt Workshop will be held in the Open Art Studio on Thursday, October 31st at 4:00 pm. Once at the conference please be sure to participate in the raffle for the Quilt created at the 2018 Conference which helps provide scholarship funds for the Pearlie Roberson Award. Read more about the history of the quilt project here.

AATA members will have the opportunity to participate in the business of the Association at the Annual Meeting of the Membership on Friday, November 1 at 12:15 pm, and all conference attendees can provide feedback and suggestions during the  Annual Town Hall meeting with Board Members on Saturday, November 2 at 12:00 pm.

The Conference Committee is also working on a self-expression activity for attendees to share ideas, suggestions and thoughts and working with the Local Arrangements Committee to offer some community service activities that will benefit several community groups who serve women, members of the LGBTQIA, and migrant/refugee communities.

Advanced Registration Ends on September 30th at 5:00 pm Eastern. If you have not already registered for the American Art Therapy Association’s 50th Annual Conference to be held October 30 to November 3, 2019 in Kansas City, MO we invite you to do so while there are still some great registration rates.  You can Register Online or call the National Office at (888) 290-0878 or (703) 548-5860 to register by phone.

For more information about the conference, visit the website, download the detailed conference brochure, or review the online “searchable” program.

AATA Members receive a discount on conference registration, so if your membership is not current or would like to become a member visit: or call (888) 290-0878 or (703) 548-5860.