News & Media

May 4 and 5, 2023
Call for Papers International Symposium Subject: Practices of Art Therapy in Times of Crisis


The Department of Performing Arts at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK), in collaboration with Intisar Foundation and in partnership with the Master Création Artistique – Art Thérapies (Master in Artistic Creation – Art Therapy) at the Sorbonne Paris Cité University, is organizing an international symposium on the theme: “Practices of Art Therapy in Times of Crisis: Case Study and Current Situation in Lebanon”, to be held on May 4 and 5, 2023 at USEK.


Tragically struck by the two world wars that marked the 20th century, the societies that survived in the West, as in the rest of the world that was affected by their repercussions, have suffered so much damage that it has not been easy anywhere to repair the social and human fabric torn apart by war, both physically and mentally.

For more than five decades, human society has been living in a new world order, which has apparently reduced insularities and inevitably brought together all human phenomena, whether cultural, religious, or civilizational. The knowledge society resulting from the new world order is entrusted with a power that leaves society, otherwise resistant to this world order, at the mercy of a zeitgeist that does not hesitate to make it dependent and increasingly less autonomous.

The new world order would have been a lifeline for humanity. Unfortunately, the non-recognition of cultural diversity and the marginalization of societies not integrated into the global phenomenon have given rise to a legitimate, though unjustified, withdrawal.
The borders erected as a result of resistance to the new world order have divided Planet Earth into two unequal hemispheres. Consequently, neither behavioral standardization nor uniformity nor homogeneity have succeeded in taming human society to form a “family” whose members accept each other as relays of unique and indispensable human experiences for a plural approach to multidimensional reality and for the development of a supportive humanism.

Since then, the nations of the Middle East have suffered a miserable fate, including Lebanon, which has witnessed, since 2019, an abysmal march of a nation towards the inferno. Yet Lebanon’s trauma is, in contrast, the leaven destined to be born again.

Has human society been left to its fate?
Of course not, the resource persons in terms of care, the intellectual elites, pedagogues, sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, and art therapists have tried, and are still trying, to find ways to comfort society, to help it to purify its memory, to free itself from its neuroses, phobias, and obsessions, to recover, and to renew its way of life, without obscuring the discrepancies here and there in terms of restoring the damaged social and human fabric, particularly with regard to mental health.

Of all the therapeutic mediation tools and media available for the progress and development of human society, it seems that the activities undertaken since the last century, and those that are abundant today, prove that art therapy remains a very effective means to help and advance the life of human beings who have been traumatized, afflicted, distressed, and have lost their self-image, among others.

What is the purpose of art therapy?
A close look at the evolution of human culture and civilization reveals that historically, art therapy in its different expressions, such as therapy through writing, theatre, dance, music, plastic arts, and many other unmentioned practices, can develop into support for people with psychological, physical, social, or existential difficulties. The various forms of art therapy are accompanied by a variety of tools that embed human civilization in space and time over the years and build its history in all its dimensions.

From the powerful visual and auditory expressions to sophisticated technological support, society has expressed itself artistically to be happy, to tell its story, to express and re-express itself, to preserve the past, to transmit values from one generation to another, to remain alive after death, to affirm its resistance to the elements, to inscribe its “self” identity, etc.

For German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht, “All artforms are in the service of the greatest of all arts: the art of living.” We often hear “I do not know how to draw, I cannot paint, I am not good at music or at school, I was bad at dancing or acting.” One does not need to be an experienced artist to feel the “colorful emotions” that spring from their heart. Between painting, dance, theater, drawing, fabrics, music, tales, etc., there is always one or more means of expression, sometimes skillfully yet always sincerely. “Art is transformation”.

Art therapy, a psychotherapeutic approach stemming from humanities, is based on a wealth of scientific knowledge acquired in the field of psychology, educational sciences, sociology, and art history.

The aim of art therapy is not to create a work of art, but rather to allow for a therapeutic activity using plastic material and the interaction of ideas, emotions, affects, and experiences brought about by this material.

Which therapeutic practices does the symposium offer?

Oriental philosophy once taught that the most interesting thing in life is not to achieve permanent happiness but, on the contrary, to progress at our own pace towards that happiness, trying to give meaning to what we do.

In the wake of this reflection, the symposium counts on these expressions resulting from a need to alleviate human suffering, to help humankind evolve, blossom, and be transformed.

1st theme: Therapy Through Writing, A Wonderful Creative Journey
From the Creative Writing Workshop in the United States to the reproduction and publication of patients’ writings, including “poetry therapy” and writing workshops focused on “wellness”, “self-development”, “reintegration”, “being in trade with” / “From knowledge of words to knowledge of things”.

2nd theme: Therapeutic Expressive Arts, from the Expression of the Repressed to the Untying of Knots: Case Study and Current Situation in Lebanon.

3rd theme: The Practice of Drama Therapy: A Path to Freedom and Vector of a Process of Change.
This theme includes the following components:
a. The mass exodus of Syrian refugees, their number (one-third of the Lebanese population), their way of life, and the psychological impact on the life of Lebanese citizens;
b. The explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, and the severe consequences on the mental health of the majority of the Lebanese;
c. The socioeconomic and political situation: a descent into the abyss and the freefall of a different society that is unlike the society of the recent past.

The symposium is designed to include a plenary session, lectures, testimonies, workshops, and final recommendations that will support the unavoidable need for therapeutic arts and their use in therapeutic care to help troubled patients overcome their ailments.

Terms and conditions

The symposium will take place on May 4 and 5 at USEK. The working language will be French and/or English.
Each participant will be allotted 20 minutes for their presentation followed by a 10-minute debate with the audience.

The paper and/or workshop proposal (about 500 characters) in Word or PDF format and a bio-bibliography (profession, field of research, institution, publications) are to be sent to the following emails:


Deadline for submitting proposals (title and abstract): March 30, 2023.
Symposium date: May 4-5, 2023.
Submission of the final drafts and workshop recommendations for publication: September 18, 2023.

Advisory Committee

Hoda Matar Nehmé: Emeritus professor and head of the scientific committee.
Lena Saadé Gebran: Associate professor and coordinator of the symposium.
Sandrine Pitarque: Assistant professor and coordinator of the symposium.
Holy Spirit University of Kaslik
Tel.: (+961) 9 600 000
Fax : (+961) 9 600 100
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