The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


October 25, 2012

Using arts to heal | Southern Alleghenies museum will host health-care conference at UPJ

JOHNSTOWN — Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art’s Museum/Healthcare Partnership Program will hosts its inaugural healing arts conference.

The two-day event is designed to highlight the importance of art therapy programming and to showcase how arts can aid in the healing and recovery of patients.

It will focus on art therapy as it relates to diseases such as autism and Alzheimer’s.

The conference will be held Nov. 16-17 at Pitt-Johnstown’s conference center.

The confab is specifically designed to benefit art therapists, artists, caregivers, educators, health care administrators, parents of children with autism, psychologists and students in the field of arts therapy.

“The healing arts conference will be a great opportunity for people to see how important the arts are when it comes to health, healing and the rehabilitation of individuals who suffer from many different ailments,” said Tina Lehman, SAMA’s Healthcare Partnership Program administrator. “It will also be a time for industry professionals, artists and even students to network, create new partnerships and share their own experiences.”

Lehman said a great deal of research was conducted to select the presenters for the first conference.

“We had a long list to choose from, but we whittled it down to those speakers who could best serve the needs of the community,” she said.

The conference will open with a presentation by Cathy Goucher and Jill Scheibler, art therapists at Make Studio in Baltimore.

Make Studio is an organization that provides visual arts programming to adults with disabilities. Goucher and Scheibler have several years of experience in arts therapy and were co-founders of Make Studio.

The second day of the conference features three speakers, beginning with a presentation by Elizabeth Warson. An assistant professor in the graduate therapy program at George Washington University, Warson employs American Indian arts in art therapy programs.

She is on the board of directors for the Society for the Arts in Healthcare.

As a professional artist, her sculptures have been exhibited nationally and internationally.

The second speaker will be  Janet Bernson, perhaps better known as “The Healing Artist.”

Bernson uses creative expression as a tool for making positive life changes. She has created several popular expressive arts programs that focus on individuals as they relate to the world at large. Bernson has been featured on NBC’s “Starting Over” and is an award-winning theater director, playwright, editorialist and visual artist.

The third speaker will be Marcia Rosal, professor and director of the arts therapy program at Florida State University. Rosal is a past executive secretary of the Kentucky Art Therapy Association and a past president of the American Art Therapy Association.

“Anyone interested in the arts and how it effects healing, especially for those families who could benefit from such information, would be interested in attending,” Lehman said.

Cost is $100 per person or $25 for students. Continuing education credits may be available.

Reservations are required by Nov. 5 and can be made by calling SAMA at 269-7234.

After Nov. 5, the cost will be $125 per person.

In 2003, SAMA introduced its Museum/Healthcare Partnership Program, an initiative designed to help area residents suffering from mental and physical disabilities.

“This is another opportunity to get our message out there and extend our program into the community,” Lehman said.

Through the program, SAMA’s trained artists and educators work with health-care providers to develop residencies and workshops aimed at providing relief for patients dealing with physical pain and discomfort.

In recent years, the program has been expanded to include working with disabled veterans as well as placing a greater emphasis on mentally challenged citizens.

The program has benefited more than 500 individuals throughout central and western Pennsylvania.

Information: 269-7234 or visit


What: Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art’s healing arts conference.

Where: Pitt-Johnstown’s conference center, Richland Township.

When: Nov. 16-17.

Tickets: Reservations required by Nov. 5 at 269-7234.

Cost: $100 per person and $25 for students. After Nov. 5, the cost is $125.


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