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SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, May 13, 2024 / — Art and music are powerful tools of healing, self-discovery, and self-expression. Carey MacCarthy, MA, ATR, LPCC, Registered Art Therapist, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor has dedicated her life to using this powerful trauma treatment modality to help children and adults heal from trauma.

As a prominent Art Therapist in the field since 2001, Carey began her career working in the front lines in psychiatric hospitals, treating patients with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and dissociative identity disorder, then transitioned into Neurorehabilitation within a physical rehabilitation hospital treating stroke victims. There, she developed a protocol that helped rewire the brain from paralysis in just 3 weeks.

In 2014, Carey founded START UP! Art Therapy and moved to the Native American reservations to bring her START UP! Art Therapy Whole Brain Healing System™, a Neurodevelopmental Art Therapy Trauma Treatment training program to tribal schools and behavioral health organizations to heal trauma and break the cycle of Intergenerational and historical trauma.

In her experience of simultaneously living on the reservations, providing these trainings to tribal nations, as well as working with the Federal government’s Indian Health Services (IHS), Carey noticed the health disparities in minority health in access to care. While working for IHS, she was 1 of 6 therapists on the entire Pineridge Reservation of South Dakota to serve a population of 40,000 enrolled tribal members. “We had a waiting list of suicidal adolescents and adults, and my supervisor refused to let me give them weekly appointments… it broke my heart to tell them their next appointment was two months away.”

With a lack of mental health care, an American Indian suicide rate 19 times that of other ethnicities, and the government’s negligence to address this crisis, Carey was even more determined in her mission to bring the START UP! Art Therapy Program to every tribal school to help rebuild First Nations People. “The government is failing the Native People with broken Treaties (not only stolen land, and many other broken promises), but also a Treaty that states that Native People will have access to free quality health care. The healthcare Native Americans receive is not quality, and certainly not consistent or accessible.

“START UP! Art Therapy Whole Brain Healing System™ is a trauma-informed, evidence-based, culturally competent trauma treatment program that rewires the brain from trauma, depression, and anxiety while instilling coping skills, emotional regulation, and life skills. Basically, art is a right brain activity and verbal expression is a left brain activity. We know trauma is stored in the right side of the brain, so when you do specific Art Therapy directives, combined with verbal expression, you unlock right brain trauma, and neurobiologically begin to allow your brain to start healing. The process is covert in that people are healing while having fun, not realizing they are even doing therapy! It literally starts the brain!

“We train the teachers and therapists within schools, behavioral health, juvenile detention centers, etc., to experience, learn and implement the START UP! Art Therapy Trauma Treatment System™, so they can facilitate this mental health curriculum within their classrooms and practices, and bring in their own cultural teachings into each session, shown to expedite trauma recovery when people are exposed to their own cultural heritage. Serving minorities is a passion and the crux of who I am and what I stand for—Multicultural Neurodevelopmental Art Therapy and cultural competence and cultural compassion.

“The START UP! Art Therapy Whole Brain Healing System™ also develops the nervous system, which is crucial for optimal brain function and mental health and is the foundational building block for learning academia, and memory retention, especially when we are talking about Native American People restoring lost language. It is imperative to optimize children’s brains to learn their language,” explains Carey. “Having access to this advanced Art Therapy Curriculum within tribal schools K-12 can rewire the brain, in turn rewiring the genetic markers within the DNA to reverse the epigenetics of Historical Trauma within not just Native American populations, but many cultures that have endured generations of genocide and oppression, like Black, Latino, Jewish, Aboriginal and more. We can revolutionize the educational system by making this a mandatory curriculum to give every child the start they need to succeed.

“START UP! Art Therapy Whole Brain Healing System™ is scientifically designed to heal the whole brain by rewiring the neural circuitry within its four functioning structures from the bottom-up, right/left hemispheric integration, then top-down. The START UP! Art Therapy facilitators manual is a yearlong curriculum which systematically engages each functioning structure of the brain, from the bottom up, to help children and adults access the prefrontal cortex (the executive functioning part of the brain responsible for wisdom, compassion, empathy, planning, decision-making, and understanding right /wrong).

“In trauma, these important neural pathways can be damaged creating a disconnect between the bottom structure and prefrontal cortex. Studies show that prison inmates, who were given brain scans, showed little to no activity within the prefrontal cortex because of past trauma inhibiting their brain’s ability to correctly function. They aren’t able to make good life decisions—it is a physical disability that is hugely unrecognized by the medical system and behavioral health, and something we can correct and heal.” Carey clarifies. “Since mental health is the building block for physical health, art therapy can also improve our physical health and reduce stress-related illness, (known to be the number one cause of death in the U.S.), as well as boost our immune systems.”

Carey has been an artist all her life. But when she was 18, she learned about Art Therapy from a friend and knew immediately that was how she would spend her life. “As an artist, I experienced how powerful art was in my own healing from childhood trauma. When I went through Art Therapy graduate school, Linda Chapman, renowned Art Therapist and pioneer of Neurodevelopmental Art Therapy, was a professor of mine. I loved her work and I noticed many trauma symptoms I had carried since I was a girl, began to heal. I had learned how to rewire my brain!” shares Carey. “My healing was so profound, I knew that I had to share this technique with as many people as possible. Linda and I remained close colleagues and friends and much later became co-authors of the START UP! A School-Based Arts Curriculum for Native American Youth and ALL Cultures: Interventions For Development and Learning Facilitators Manual.” Carey adds, “I had been working with Native Americans spiritually, since my teens, and I knew this was a way to give back after them sharing their healing traditions with me.”

With an MA in Psychology and Art, Carey has been active in the Art Therapy profession since 2001. She is a Registered Art Therapist with the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor through the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS).

After working with tribal schools for over a decade, COVID hit. All the schools were shut down, and everyone was stuck at home, and some of those homes were not healthy. With the issues at home and the fear and grieving the loss of loved ones, our brains have been hardwired for social anxiety, feelings of isolation and depression—especially teens, where we are seeing unprecedented rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidality in adolescents globally.”

“Because of the global crisis, START UP! Is now geared up and working to get our curriculum into all schools, public and private. We’ve been training tribal schools across the U.S. and on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, to make their classrooms trauma-informed, creating a model to be taken out to other reservations within the U.S. and Canada and ALL schools… we are ready to bring art back to the education system to address the gigantic disparity in mental health,” Carey explains.

While just drawing in general is very relaxing, the START UP! Art Therapy Whole Brain Healing System™ is designed to heal the whole brain. Carey elucidates, “Trauma response sends SOS messages from the right side of the brain, and, the left side of the brain can turn off. Our program can help the whole brain to heal especially after a 3 year pandemic where all of us have been affected globally, as a collective. START UP! Art Therapy™ offers the curriculum for children and schools. Adults can find workshops and individual sessions. Teachers and therapists can also be trained in the START UP! Art Therapy Whole Brain Healing System™, and Carey offers speaking engagements for large audiences.

“We’re currently working on new programs for adults and adult trauma. So many people are feeling long-term effects after the 2020 pandemic, not just trauma, but also Long Covid. We as a collective need to heal so we can effectively guide our children into adulthood, into all of our futures. Children can pick up on our dis-ease, so it is up to us to heal ourselves, heal the people, so we can heal the planet.” explains Carey. “START UP! Art Therapy™ is working hard to get our program into schools, juvenile justice systems, and war torn zones… we are working with more and more tribes daily, we have pilot programs in juvenile detention centers around the country, a state penitentiary, and have just been invited to train therapists in the Ukraine. The list keeps growing. There is such a need for competent mental health care on a mass scale unlike ever before and I know that by making Art Therapy a mandatory classroom curriculum, as well as implementing this in behavioral health and detention centers globally, we can begin to rewire for wellness and resilience. START UP! Art Therapy™ is here to help.”

Close Up Radio will feature Carey MacCarthy in an interview with Jim Masters on Wednesday, May 15th at 1pm Eastern

Listen to the show on BlogTalkRadio

If you have any questions for our guest, please call (347) 996-3389

For more information about Carey MacCarthy or StartupArtTherapy, please visit

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