Cognitive Connections

Cognitive Connections, a dignity-promoting arts training initiative for caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease  and other forms of cognitive impairment, was developed in collaboration with Cognitive Dynamics advisory board member and Cognitive Connections Director, Angel Duncan, MA-MFT, ATR.

Angel has extensive experience as both an art therapist and marriage and family therapist, and has been an instructor, trainer, and lecturer across the United States on the use of expressive arts therapies in the cognitively-impaired.  Angel has worked with the Alzheimer’s Association and has been a consultant with some of the country’s leading providers of senior care and home health.  She has lectured extensively on successful aging and the role of art therapy in the promotion of human dignity and quality of life.  She recently co-authored “Expressive Arts Therapies in Geriatric Neurology”, the first-ever medical textbook chapter on the expressive arts therapies ( in Geriatric Neurology, Prentice-Hall, publishers, 2011) with Daniel C. Potts, M.D..

The goal of Cognitive Connections is to offer the benefits of art therapy (which include fostering of dignity, preservation of a sense of self-worth, and improvement in quality of life) to individuals affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive impairment.  Realizing that not every community has access to board-certified art therapists, Cognitive Connections seeks to train professional and lay caregivers in proven techniques of art therapy, so that its benefits may be more widely experienced.  At the completion of training, a Cognitive Connections certificate will be awarded.

For more information, or to schedule Cognitive Connections Training, please contact angel@cognitivedynamics.org.

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Angel Duncan

Angel C. Duncan, M.A.-MFT, ATR, is the Executive Director of Cognitive Connections. She has an extensive background in counseling psychology: marriage and family therapy and clinical art therapy; specializing in adult and geriatric psychopathology, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.  Coming from the San Francisco Bay Area, Angel’s clinical practicum and research was conducted at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, and at the Children’s Health Council. As a programs director for the Alzheimer’s Association, Angel directed a national art therapy program for persons with dementia, supervised and facilitated caregiver and early stage Alzheimer’s/Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) support groups, and provided health education presentations/trainings throughout the Northern California region.  Concurrently, Angel worked as the clinical rehab and medical art therapist at the University of California- San Francisco (UCSF) Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. In addition, she incorporated an art therapy program in the UCSF Memory and Aging Center and facilitated a Frontotemporal Dementia (Pick’s Disease) caregiver support group. In the community, she served on the San Francisco and San Mateo County Departments on Aging Adults & Adults with Disabilities committees, implementing outreach resources for underserved populations.  She also held a state advocate position for dementia education and care at the capitol in Sacramento.

In the New York City and Tri-state areas, Angel was the Regional Programs Director for Senior Helpers and held a private consulting practice.  She developed and implemented a multitude of wellness programs in diverse communities throughout the northeast coastal region.  Angel currently serves as an adjunct professor in Connecticut, California and Alabama teaching in graduate and undergraduate honors departments in adult and geriatric psychopathology and medical art therapy courses.  She is also a visiting instructor in high schools and universities throughout the country.  She has been featured and interviewed in national newspapers, television and radio, including: The Los Angeles Times, The New Jersey Star Ledger, The Silicon Valley Business Journal, CBS, The Silver Lining, ABC- News, among others. Angel is a published author for art-psychotherapy and medical books, and regularly contributes in other publications.  Some of her book publications include: The Handbook of Geriatric Neurology; Art Therapy and Health Care; and Art, Angst and Trauma: Right Brain Interventions for Developmental Issues.  Currently residing in Southwest Florida, Angel is the Healthcare Liaison/Research Educator at the Neuropsychiatric Research Center of Southwest Florida, specializing in clinical research trials for Alzheimer’s Disease, MCI and mental health disorders. Nationally, Angel works with top leading professionals as a consultant in brain health initiative projects, and she is a recognized speaker and consultant with the National Center for Creative Aging in Washington, D.C. In her spare time, Angel is an actress in theatre and supports the arts across the spectrum.