Donna Betts, PhD, ATR-BC, is Clinical Research Director for Creative Forces®: National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Military Healing Arts Network. She is Past President of the American Art Therapy Association, and formerly served on the Board of Directors for the AATA as well as the Art Therapy Credentials Board. 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. 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, public policy, and research. Her most recent publication is a book co-authored with Dr. Sarah Deaver, Art Therapy Research: A Practical Guide.
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 extended into an ongoing 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 art therapy and the creative arts therapies through involvement in the national arts in health movement, as a member of the National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH), as well as her collaboration with the NOAH on several of their resources. In addition, Dr. Betts 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.