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Second Lady Karen Pence’s Initiative for Art Therapy: Healing with the HeART

Posted on: Oct 18, 2017
Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, shows her artwork during an interview with The Associated Press in her office at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017 (Photo courtesy of the Washington Times).

Today, the White House announced Second Lady Karen Pence’s Initiative for Art Therapy: Healing with the HeART. The initiative will take place on the campus of Florida State University, which houses a nationally recognized art therapy graduate education program.

The initiative has three goals:

  1. To elevate the profession so that people understand that art therapy is a mental health profession, and not arts and crafts;
  2. To help people understand that art therapy is an option for various conditions, illnesses, and life experiences; and 
  3. To encourage young people to go into the profession.

Second Lady Pence said of her initiative, “…art therapy is making a positive difference. From children with cancer, to struggling teens, to grieving families, to people with autism, to military service members experiencing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, to those with eating disorders, art therapy is changing lives.”

Mrs. Pence plans to do the following through her initiative, Art Therapy: Healing with the HeART:

  • Continue to speak publicly about the benefits of art therapy
  • Meet with art therapists
  • Visit art therapy programs throughout the United States and world to acknowledge the good work taking place
  • Highlight art therapy academic programs
  • Meet with current art therapy students
  • Meet with art therapy clients
  • Share stories of art therapists and clients
  • Advocate for the pursuit of more research showing the scientific and medical benefits of art therapy treatment
  • Support, in a variety of ways, programs that benefit art therapists, art therapy programs, and art therapy clients

“The many positive benefits of the creative arts therapies professions—art, music, dance, drama, poetry and psychodrama—toward the health and well-being of our nation’s veterans are well documented. The services of creative arts therapists are essential in ongoing efforts to address the needs of service members and their families,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts and the Arts Action Fund. “Second Lady Karen Pence’s initiative will shine a much needed light on the importance of art therapy in healing those who have sacrificed much, and deserve our support the most. Her advocacy is an important step in highlighting art therapy as a mental health profession, and its role in helping to treat the invisible wounds of war, including traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. Americans for the Arts has a long history of working with the arts and military/veterans communities to increase access to these vital services, as well as to arts throughout the community. We are excited about this new effort and look forward to providing our assistance in its development and promotion.”

You can view the official White House video here. To stay updated on the Second Lady’s art therapy program visits and stories shared about the life changing treatment, follow the Second Lady’s Blog Page. To stay updated on her events, follow her on Twitter at, @SecondLady.