What is ABT?

Background Salient Features
  • ʻArts-Based Therapyʼ is a term that was coined by WCCL Foundation in 2001, to represent the use of multiple art forms (music, drama, visual arts) & their combinations in therapy.
  • Since 2001, the core team of WCCL Foundation has been conducting action research projects in organizations which work with special needs groups. Observations & results from the past 13 years of action research have refined the ABT model, and continue to do so.
  • In order to practice ABT, an eligible person has to complete the ABT Certificate Course by WCCL Foundation.
Clinical Uses & Goals

ABT has been found suitable for the following categories of special needs:

  • Children with special needs: Children in special schools, with a range of intellectual disability, Cerebral Palsy, physical disabilities, on the Autism spectrum, and such.
  • Children at-risk: Children with psycho-social needs, in orphanages, in cancer treatment or palliative care, in government institutions, living in at-risk economic or social zones, girls who are victims of trafficking, survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and such.
  • Adults: Rehabilitation or After-Care for substance abuse, In institutional care or in treatment for mental health concerns, In palliative care, women in at-risk situations, victims of trafficking and such.

Ms. Heather MacTavish

Intervention Format

ABT can be practiced in a group or with individual clients, dyads or triads. In the case of halfway homes, de-addiction centres etc, ABT can be applied to a ‘floating population’ wherein, the members keep changing, but they are coming with similar issues.

Theoretical Orientation & Lineages

The theoretical foundations of ABT are rooted in Buddhist Philosophy from the Nalanda Tradition. To know more on this click the following link -
Nalanda Tradition in Contemporary Practice of ABT In India.

TheRhythmic Lineage – Mr. Arthur Hull’s Drum Circle Facilitation.

The Song-Story Lineage – Ms. Heather MacTavish as published in her book ‘Songs, Science & Spirit.

‘Drama & Movement Lineage – Dr. Sue Jennings’ work on dramatherapy, UK.

The Visual Aesthetics lineage – Eastern traditions of sacred spaces, mandalas, and Zen art.

Assessment & Evaluation

A variety of assessment domains are charted out, and they help focus awareness on a particular dimension of the client. As the client is perceived holistically, it is possible to set correct therapeutic goals for their healing (WCCLF 2013).

Multiple tools and methods like – Rating Scales, Observation Checklists, Standard Tests, Audio-Visual documentation, and artistic tools – are assembled together to reflect the progress or changes noted in a client / group over a period of time in the ABT intervention.