National art therapy association appoints UAB psychologist as board president

UAB psychology instructor will lead national organization devoted to the growth and development of the art therapy profession.
Written by: Katherine Shonesy
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christianne strang verticalChristianne Strang, Ph.D.The American Art Therapy Association introduced Christianne Strang, Ph.D., as 2017-2018 board chairperson last month.

Strang, a UAB research instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology, has 30 years of clinical art therapy experience, and provides art therapy services to individuals in treatment for anorexia and bulimia.

At UAB, Strang teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in behavioral neuroscience, developmental neuroscience and introduction to creative arts therapies. Prior to serving as board president, Strang served as the treasurer for the American Art Therapy Association and on the Art Therapy Credentials Board.

“The greatest benefit of my AATA membership has been in the relationships and connections with other art therapists,” Strang said. “The conferences are like coming home — seeing old friends and being with a group of people who have a shared vision and vocabulary, as well as a shared understanding of the healing power of art therapy.”

Strang’s academic research is focused on the role of neurotransmitter receptors in visual processing and how that processing is affected in Alzheimer’s disease. She enjoys spending three weeks every summer co-directing a neuroscience immersion course at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. She took the same course herself as a UAB student in 1998.

When asked about why art therapy is effective, Strang answered, “There are so many things — it bypasses the cognitive messages and habits, identifies and reinforces new ways of thinking and interacting, builds healthier habits and patterns of behaving, and provides the opportunity to develop and explore relationships in new ways.”