Donna Betts

Donna Betts low res.jpg

Donna Betts, PhD, ATR-BC, is a Board Certified art therapist and passionate arts advocate. Endeavoring to improve access to the arts for all who can benefit, Dr. Betts promotes the power of the arts in improving health, well-being, and quality of life through various advisory roles including her position as Co-Chair of the True Patriot Love Military Creative Arts Initiative Program Council.

Dr. Betts holds a PhD in Art Education and Art Therapy from Florida State University (FSU), a Master of Arts in Art Therapy degree from George Washington University (GW), and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University.

From 2018 – 2022 Dr. Betts was the Clinical Research Director for Creative Forces® National Endowment for the Arts Military Healing Arts Network. She served as President of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) from 2015 – 2017 and was previously on the Board of Directors for the AATA as well as the Art Therapy Credentials Board. Dr. Betts was on the faculty of the GW Graduate Art Therapy Program from 2009 – 2018, and was an Associate Professor and Research Director. Her clinical experience includes work with children, adolescents and adults.

Dr. Betts is an award-winning researcher and author, and has presented internationally on a variety of topics, including adoption and foster care, assessment, autism, eating disorders, military-connected populations, public policy, research, TBI, and trauma. Her most recent book publication, co-authored with Dr. Sarah Deaver, is Art Therapy Research: A Practical Guide. She is an Editorial Board Member of Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association and a reviewer for several book publishers and academic journals such as Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy and The Arts in Psychotherapy: An International Journal.

Dr. Betts was the recipient of the 2014 Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association Best Paper Award for her article A Review of the Principles for Culturally-Appropriate Art Therapy Assessment Tools. In 2005, she completed her doctoral dissertation, entitled A Systematic Analysis of Art Therapy Assessment and Rating Instrument Literature, funded by an FSU Office of Graduate Studies dissertation grant, as well as the 2004 Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society Daisy Parker Flory Graduate Scholar Award. Her doctoral research resulted in the publication of the seminal article, Art Therapy Assessments and Rating Instruments: Do They Measure Up? (Betts, 2006).

During the summer of 2011, Dr. Betts led An Art Therapy Study of Visitor Reactions to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Experience, for which she and co-investigator Jordan Potash were granted the 2012 AATA Research Award. Her interest in art-based methods and her own Scottish heritage extended into a longitudinal collaborative study based in Nova Scotia, Canada, Ìle ga Bruidhinn: Community-Based Gaelic Language Revitalization. Dr. Betts was co-investigator for an autism study in 2010 funded by a GW Medical Faculty Associates (MFA) Collaborative Research Program grant, Assessing Medication Responsiveness in Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), which incorporates the Face Stimulus Assessment (FSA) (Betts, 2003). She was the GW Art Therapy Project Lead for Phase 2 of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) SBIR-funded study that explored the use of a computer-based tool to help military service members express combat-related experiences through personal narratives in a graphic novel/sequential art format.

Throughout her career, Dr. Betts has advocated for increased recognition of art therapy as a distinct, regulated mental health profession in the US, Canada, and abroad. She continues to promote the creative arts therapies and the arts for health and well-being as a supporter of Americans for the Arts and the National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH), and through her collaboration with the NOAH on several of their resources. In addition, she serves as consultant to Artocene, an international organization focused on ensuring that patients and their caregivers have access to as many forms of art as possible in healthcare facilities. Dr. Betts’ forthcoming co-edited book, Bridging the Creative Arts Therapies and Arts in Health: Toward Inspirational Practice, underscores her commitment to collaboration and increasing access to the arts.

2 thoughts on “Donna Betts

  1. I truly believe for students to become better learners we need to better educate the educators. We can affect a greater and more lasting change in education. So we need better Teachers. Thinks for this. Awesome post. So many good things i learn from it. I will come back soon.

  2. As a pianist, I am intuitively and keenly aware of the importance and vitality of the arts in our lives. Thank you for your work delineating so many specific ways we benefit from experiencing art. I’m dazzled by the myriad applications to mental health, education, and general well-being. Again, many thanks!

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