Published: 02/4/2019


Art Therapists for Human Rights Demands a Call for Action


For almost two years, Art Therapists for Human Rights (AT4HR) have peacefully advocated for Mrs. Karen Pence, a member of the current White House Administration, to end her self-appointed spokesperson role for the profession of art therapy. AT4HR and other concerned professionals have repeatedly asked the leadership of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) to publicly request that this individual desist her representation of the profession of art therapy, based on the existing AATA's Code of Ethics and the Art Therapy Credentialing Board's (ATCB) Code of Ethics and Professional Practice.


In December 2018, Mrs. Pence announced that she intends to teach at Immanuel Christian School, a school that openly discriminates against LGBTQIA students, families, and staff members. AT4HR understands that Mrs. Pence has a right to work wherever she chooses and we do not question that right. But in deciding to work at a school that openly discriminates against a specific segment of the US population, a threshold has been crossed and into undeniably disturbing terrain. For this reason, the profession of art therapy cannot continue to be linked to this current White House Administration when by its own ethical standards it has pledged to honor, respect and defend the human rights of all individuals.


Therefore, AT4HR calls on the AATA to:

  • formally ask Mrs. Pence to desist speaking about the field and profession of art therapy;
  • specifically, explain the ethical issues that are in direct violation of our standards of practice to Mrs. Pence;
  • take ACTION instead of writing statements that have no impact;
  • take ACTION to separate AATA and the Art Therapy profession from the inhumane, exclusionary practices and policies of Ms. Pence and the current administration; and
  • take ACTION to support the human rights of our client populations.


It is well past the time that the AATA elected leadership take on this challenge and do the right thing on behalf of the human rights we are committed to upholding as mental health professionals.


About Art Therapists for Human Rights

Art Therapists for Human Rights (AT4HR) is an evolving grassroots community that exists to take action for the rights of LGBTQIA people, Native people, Black and Brown people, Muslims, survivors of sexual assault, people with disabilities, immigrants, refugees, and all people who are in danger as a result of the policies of the current White House administration. These people are all of us: they are our families and our friends, they are the clients that we serve. Over and above our own desires for professional advancement, publicity, licensure, and recognition, is our deep and unwavering commitment to the ethical practice of Art Therapy in the service of our communities.


For questions about this press release, please contact:

Connie Gretsch, M.Ed, M.A., ATR-BC



Facebook: @AT4HR