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Two Steinhardt Faculty Members Win Major Award in Art Therapy Research

American Art Therapy Association logo

On November 5th, at a virtual ceremony, NYU Steinhardt faculty members, Ikuko Acosta and Marygrace Berberian received the American Art Therapy Association’s (AATA) Rawley Silver Research Award – one of the highest honors in clinical art therapy research. The award provides funding for and honors the professors’ work on an exploratory research project called ExplorArtPD. The research assesses the rehabilitative potential of art therapy for people with Parkinson’s disease.

“It is humbling to receive this award, named in honor of Dr. Rawley Silver,” said Marygrace Berberian, clinical assistant professor of art therapy. “Our profession continues the work of Dr. Silver, recognizing the rehabilitative benefits of art therapy to address the complex challenges of acute and chronic illnesses. Art therapy elicits the vitality in our clients, promoting new dimensions to their existing identities as 'patients'. They accept new perspectives as problem-solving artists.”

The research being taken on by Acosta and Berberian is a collaboration with the Marlene and Paolo Fresco Institute for Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Among other findings, the preliminary research results suggest significant improvements in patients’ general motor function and psychosocial wellbeing. The researchers also found that clinical improvements were accompanied by significant changes in brain functional connectivity highlighting a dynamic reorganization of neural networks within the visual system, overall supporting the beneficial role of art therapy in improving perception and clinical function in their patients.

The professors accepted the award virtually during AATA’s annual conference.

AATA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, nonpartisan, professional, and educational organization dedicated to the growth and development of the art therapy profession. Founded in 1969, the AATA is one of the world’s leading art therapy membership organizations.


Marygrace Berberian

Clinical Assistant Professor of Art Therapy

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