Meet 2019 Forward under 40 Award Recipient Owen Karcher’08

UW Major: Social Work
Age: 31 | Madison
Art Therapist and Social Justice Consultant, Center for Community Healing

Through art therapy and advocacy, Owen Karcher helps people find health in body, mind, and spirit.

Karcher is a co-owner of the Center for Community Healing, a counseling practice that often serves clients who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ+). He specializes in therapy for people who have experienced trauma, such as domestic or sexual violence, and he also offers services
in both English and Spanish.

Art therapists may encourage clients to sculpt, paint, or draw emotions as a way of processing traumatic experiences, gaining insight, and promoting healing.

The center is located on Madison’s west side, but Karcher knows the need for culturally competent care isn’t limited to the state’s capital city.

“By offering individual and family therapy, as well as education and training to other care providers,
I hope to contribute to making high-quality, holistic health care available for all LGBTQ+ people in the state of Wisconsin,” Karcher says.

As an artist, advocate, and educator, Karcher extends his multitude of talents to grow awareness about the need to provide people who identify as LGBTQ+ with equitable health care services and affirming community spaces. In 2013, he helped establish the Wisconsin Transgender Health Coalition. He frequently delivers presentations and workshops about accessibility and inclusion to universities, hospitals, businesses, and nonprofits. Karcher is also a Spanish bilingual advocate and a member of the Latino Health Council in Dane County.

Many of Karcher’s personal and professional pursuits are inspired by his time at the UW, where he says he strengthened his understanding of social justice and his passion for public service.

“I began my undergraduate career uncertain of who I would become but certain of my desire to help people,” Karcher says. “I also learned that helping people, while important, is not the end goal. Cocreating communities where all people can thrive and participate is the goal.”

Photo by Chelsea O’Neil Karcher

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