Ben Allan (BA): Who are you and what do you do?
Martha Dorn: I’m Martha Dorn, Executive Director of the Art Therapy Outreach Centre (ATOC). I oversee all development, financial and marketing & communications aspects of the organization.
BA: When did the Outreach Centre start and how far has it progressed over the years?
MD: ATOC received non-profit status in July 2010. I was hired as the first employee in September 2011. We ran three art therapy groups and at the end of 2011, ATOC had provided free art therapy to 48 clients. This year, we hired a full time Clinical Program Director, contract with a dozen art therapists, ran 26 ongoing art therapy groups and served more than 1000 clients.
BA: How important would you say art therapy is to people in need of help?
MD: Art therapy uses the power of the creative process as a vehicle for healing, communication, self-expression and personal development. It is often more effective than traditional talk therapy for traumatized individuals.
BA: How is the Outreach Centre funded?
MD: ATOC is privately funded through the generosity of individuals, private foundations and corporations.
BA: Would you say there is there a problem with art therapy funding?
MD: The demand for free art therapy is high and ATOC is the only non-profit in New York dedicated solely to art therapy. We now have organizations on a waitlist until we secure additional funding.
BA: In America, how big is art therapy, and how far has it come?
MD: Art therapy has gained considerable recognition over the past decade and continues to be a growing field. Scientific advancements in neuroscience have had a tremendous impact. Its use in treating trauma victims, PTSD in particular, has gained in popularity.
BA: At the Outreach Centre what kind of work do you do to help people exactly using art therapy?
MD: We work with diverse populations who have experienced some form of trauma including male and female veterans, homeless veterans, survivors of 9/11, survivors of torture, at-risk youth, court-involved youth, burn victims, adolescents with complex medical issues, survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence, and individuals with substance abuse issues. We address a range of issues including self-esteem, trust, communication and coping skills, and managing stress.
BA: What is the age range you get coming in?
MD: 6 – 70+
BA: Do you think more people should experience art therapy before disregarding it?
BA: Overall, what do you see for the future of art therapy and where do you see it going?
MD: Art Therapy is a growing practice and profession, which has become recognized in a variety of care and development settings as an effective treatment modality.
With advocacy to support insurance panelling and the generation of procedure codes for services delivered by art therapists, the field will continue to expand, making art therapy an integral part of treatment for individuals with a variety of health and wellness based concerns.
Art therapy will continue to grow, and revenue and funding will determine how that growth is able to occur.
All Financials for the Outreach Centre can be found here…