Arts and Health

The integrative, reparative and restorative powers of the arts

Art Therapy Meets TEDx

Art therapy is an idea worth spreading.

Talking and walking
This week I journey to Overland Park, Kansas to give a TEDx talk on art therapy and specifically as a “game changer.” I am sure most readers know about the format of TED (aka Technology, Education, Design) talks; they are short, specifically focused presentations on a wide variety of leading topics and thought-provoking themes. TEDx programs are formulated in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.” The TEDx format is designed to give communities, groups and individuals a chance to stimulate exchange and dialogue at the local level.

I am in awe of so many speakers and performers I have watched via the TED website for many years now. From this introvert’s perspective I find almost all of them to be feats of superhuman verbal and theatrical performance. For example, how do the speakers do such amazing things with their hands while speaking at TED? Invariably when I am watching these presentations I think to myself, “Wow, if I could only just master walking and talking at the same time.” I am the person who if my cell phone rings while on my daily power walk, I have to stop so I can actually listen to what the caller on the other end is saying. So chances are you will see me at the podium where it is less likely that I will walk off the stage and fall into the audience while enthusiastically yakking about art therapy. I am just hoping I can overcome my own challenges of coordination with the remote control for the PowerPoint and that I do not spill the bottled water on my couture.

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It’s not my first choice to make a case for my topic in 18 minutes or less to a sold-out auditorium. In fact, last week in one of my weaker moments I thought to myself, “I’d rather be attacked by a bear.” By nature I am not a stage personality like some of my peers who might be better at this than me. But I am passionate about the work I have been so fortunate to do and the compelling contributions art therapy and art therapists around the world have made in countless ways. So all I can do is hold a vision to just do my best to tell, “what is art therapy” and why it is the game changer that I believe it undoubtedly is. To me, the real meaning of this challenge is to create a starting point for many more art therapists to carry a message forward through more public talks on an even larger scale than this one. Art therapy is and always has been an “idea worth spreading.”

You can find out more about this event at the TEDx Overland Park website at

Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC

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Cathy Malchiodi is an art therapist, visual artist, independent scholar, and author of 13 books on arts therapies, including The Art Therapy Sourcebook.


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