Open Letter

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Open Letter on Behalf of the Faculty of the Art Therapy Program at LMU


We the faculty of Loyola Marymount University’s graduate department of Marital and Family Therapy with specialized training in Clinical Art Therapy, after a thoughtful discourse, want to formally respond to our national association’s recent endorsement of Karen Pence’s Art Therapy initiative. While we appreciate our national organization and our leaders’ intentions to highlight the profession with Karen Pence’s initiative, we have grave concerns for our field.

The art therapy program at LMU was one of the first art therapy programs approved by the American Art Therapy Association in 1976. We have educated almost eight hundred art therapists who predominately offer services in the Southern California area. We are proud to bridge vibrant communities of students, faculty, alumnae, local agencies, and clients of diverse experiences, political affiliations, and beliefs. Our educational mission encourages dialogue about the tenets of, and barriers to, wellness, within the context of culture and current events. 

Although the second lady seems genuinely dedicated to advancing art therapy as a profession, we fear that her efforts to shed light on our profession are misaligned with our mission. The current administration has spread intolerance and disenfranchisement of vulnerable communities. This position does not align with the mission of our institution nor does it adhere to the American Art Therapy Association’s ethical standards.  

We appreciate all efforts to promote and support our field, but Mrs. Pence’s visibility (now endorsed by AATA) as a spokesperson for our profession while also holding a role with the current political administration as “the second lady”, has unintended consequences of further marginalizing communities we serve. We advocate and support those who are marginalized; many of our constituents have been targeted by the Trump/Pence policies over the last year and we refuse to disregard this fact. Additionally, her affiliation with the current administration misrepresents our field and alienates many of our alumnae, faculty, students, and community affiliates who have been targeted and negatively impacted by its policies, and whose voices regarding this initiative need to be taken into account.

We believe in the need for more discussion among the art therapy community regarding Mrs. Pence’s representation of our profession.

Thank you for considering our concerns,


The undersigned faculty (in alphabetical order):

Jessica Bianchi

Anthony Bodlović

Janet Carney

Jose Cabrera

Dale Hernsdorf

Sarah Fitzsimmons

Kathleen Fogel-Richmond

Saba Harouni Lurie

Louvenia Jackson

Debra Linesch

Einat S. Metzl

Barbara Mescher

Tracy Sway Hofstatter

Madoka Takada Urhausen

Naomi Tucker