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The Kintsukuroi Project

...dedicated to exploring healing through the humanities, art, and social justice...
inspired by Acceptance & Commitment Therapy

I THRIVE supports equal rights and believes that all survivors deserve to heal.

The Kintsukuroi Project initially began as an art and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) inspired advocacy project and social media campaign aimed at challenging the stigma associated with survivorship of sexual violence.

Over time we retired our social media campaign and photo advocacy series.

We grew to expand our mission to include all survivors of trauma.
We evolved in ways we could never have imagined. 

Throughout it all, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy has remained a core tenant of our philosophy and an ongoing inspiration for the evolution of I THRIVE and

The Kintsukuroi Project.

Holding a Gold Hoop

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy 
...Six Core Principles of ACT Defined...

Kintsugi ceramic cup. Gold cracks restoration on old Japanese cup restored with the antiqu

Reclaim your narrative...

1) Self as Context may be defined as the realization that we are not our thoughts or feelings, and rather, we are the observer of these thoughts and feelings. It may be likened to the observing or transcendent self that is sought to be developed in many meditation and wisdom traditions. It may also be likened to the concept of flow, or in other words, the experience a person may have when becoming fully engaged in a given activity, mode of expression, task etc. 

2) Cognitive Defusion involves the process of attending to our ongoing thoughts and feelings and choosing to observe them rather than to automatically believe or act on them. This act of observing one's thoughts can liberate an individual from mental suffering by assisting them to weaken the links a person may have between their bothersome thoughts and emotions. In this way we choose our actions rather than automatically believing or acting on one's thoughts.

Kintsugi blue and white decorated tea ceremony chawan bowl. Gold cracks restoration on old

Life is art in motion...

3) Experiential Acceptance is practicing non-judgmental awareness of internal and external events. Through acceptance and the letting go of the things we can't control, we can choose to focus instead on what we can. When we accept reality as it is, rather than fighting it, this reserves our energy to focus on taking action in our valued direction and toward our goals, rather than getting stuck in the mire of negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

4) Present Moment Awareness is the process of getting in touch with the experiences happening in the present moment. From this mindful space a person can  embrace the experiential exercises that are often particularly transformative in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Being grounded and in the now creates the freedom for a person to chart their own course rather than be controlled by negative thoughts, feelings, or emotions.

Kintsugi beige tea ceremony chawan. Gold cracks restoration on old Japanese pottery restor

Shine your light...

5) Defining Values or what is most important to an individual, involves the process of connecting to what matters on a deeper level. When we live in alignment with our values, we feel good. When we know our values, it makes it possible to steer our course toward a more purposeful direction. While values may shift and be redefined over time, they're generally pretty stable and something we can continue to work toward across a lifetime


6) Committed Action embodies taking active steps towards one's valued direction and goals in life. When we actively move toward a valued direction rather than one that's ruled by avoidance of negative thoughts or feelings, we experience more joy and vitality in our lived experience. When we fall off course a values check gets us back on track and continued committed action toward one's valued direction will eventually bring us home. 

The Kintsukuroi Project

Art and culture have played important roles in the life of Heather Curtis MD, creator of The Kintsukuroi Project.

 She believes that 'Life is art in motion.'

The Kintsukuroi Project picked up where Heather's medical school humanities and art in medicine coursework left off.

Inspired by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, the values that guided our work include:

Service. Advocacy. Integrity. Compassion. Justice.

These values became our guiding light while we took committed action toward our goals throughout this work.
I THRIVE housed our social justice and nonprofit efforts while The Kintsukuroi Project connected us to our values and meaning for continuing this important work.

Reading with Coffee

The humanities got us started...

Throughout medical school, The Kintsukuroi Project's creator was an active member of the University of Utah Medical Humanities Interest Group. As a fourth year medical student she pursued electives in the medical humanities and art in medicine coursework. 

Heather knew she wanted to find ways to integrate art into her practice of medicine and therapy. This desire and value for art has shaped her work and service through present day. 

Check out some of The Kintsukuroi Project creator's written works as published in the University of Utah medical humanities journal, 'Rubor,' HERE.

And... Our 2014 photography submission 'Tears of Our Fallen Comrades', an image of oil in the ocean waters of Pearl Harbor just above the still leaking U.S.S. Arizona as published in 'Rubor' HERE.

Law court

Social Justice kept us going...

2014 - 2016 Advocacy for Survivors within the SLC Police Department

  • Kintsukuroi Project creator, Heather Curtis, was first exposed to the mistreatment and mishandling of sex assault cases that frequents investigative bodies in 2014. She is incredibly grateful for the University of Utah School of Medicine Dean of Student Affairs, Associate Dean of Student Affairs, and Academic Counselor at that time who supported both her and the early exploration of what would become this work 

  • In 2015 through early 2016, Heather worked with Wendy Isom, Director of the Salt Lake City Police Department Victim's Advocate Program to learn about police procedures and processing of sex assault, harassment, and stalking complaints. These efforts were utilized to address a local case of sex assault survivor mishandling and mistreatment within the SLCPD with Salt Lake City District Attorney Sandi Johnson JD.

2019 Advocacy for Resident Physicians & Survivors of Trauma

  • In 2019, Heather supported the creation of a medical leave policy for resident doctors at University of Utah training sites.

  • Her efforts contributed to the formation of a medical & mental health leave policy as well as a paternity & maternity leave policy for resident doctors training at the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics.

    • This policy was enacted across all residencies within the University of Utah in time for the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Heather additionally supported an updated lactation policy for resident doctors at the University of Utah in setting of reports of difficulties balancing lactation demands on rotation in 2019.

Read on to learn more about our social justice efforts through the years


A piece of pottery that is in the process of being repaired with kintsugi using lacquer an

Why Kintsukuroi?

Kintsukuroi (“the golden mend”) is a Japanese art that involves repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer and honoring the piece as more beautiful for having once been broken.

I THRIVE's creator is the great grandniece of Corporal Clyde C. Brown. He and his peers Sergeant Henry C. Blackwell and Sergeant Warren D. Rasmussen were the first men shot down by the Japanese on the December 7, 1941 attack of Pearl Harbor.


The metaphor of Kintsukuroi was mindfully chosen by I THRIVE's creator to serve as both a symbol of her appreciation of eastern wisdom traditions and their role in her healing as well as a symbol of her family's commitment to truth, peace, inclusion, and the healing of a traumatized world. 


Exploring the self outside of the trauma narrative and the label of 'survivor.'

The Kintsukuroi Project originally gained inspiration through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and exploration of the role of narrative expression in healing. The concept was influenced by our experience as a creative, a writer, and a purveyor of the arts, bioethics, and the medical humanities. Eventually the project grew to include the study of integrative psychiatry as well as advocacy work within the local and national mental health and psychedelic science community.

White Bust


"Life is art in motion. Create where you can and watch it unfold."

-Heather Curtis MD


Our initial 2019 project and outreach efforts invited survivors of sexual violence to explore the narrative of who they are outside of the label of survivor.

In doing so we aimed to challenge the stigma associated with survivorship, to inspire post-traumatic growth, and to create a safer global environment for survivors of sexual violence to come forward and to access healing resources and information for their recoveries.

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Cracked Rocks

Survivor Stories

Throughout 2019 and early 2020 we met and networked with survivors around the globe (USA, Thailand, India). In setting of evolving local and world affairs, our focus shifted to more present needs within the survivor community in Utah. We elected not to publish stories for our ACT inspired 'Life is art in motion' personal submission project (see video on right) and to cease recruiting early in our course. We redirected our attention to private outreach to the survivors we had previously reached as well as provision of free resources and information through this site. The project was ultimately retired as we transitioned The Kintsukuroi Project's focus to alternative ACT inspired and values-based modes of art and expression within the humanities, social justice, and healing arena.

Play Video

Our evolution through the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Shortly after our project launch on ABC4 News Utah in 2019, we traveled to Koh Phangan, Thailand to deliver an experiential Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) healing event and class at Samma Karuna International School.

  • As a member of the school since 2015, Kintsukuroi Project creator hoped she might connect with survivors of trauma on the island deserving of outreach as well as any of those harmed by abuses at the neighboring Agama school who may have been in need of resources and healing.

  • During this trip personal tragedy struck the life of Kintsukuroi Project creator Heather Curtis MD such that she was unable to present her experiential ACT healing as planned.

  • In its stead, Heather attended Samma Karuna Awakening and Healing program course and curriculum and had the opportunity to support peers during a holotropic breathwork class when they became overwhelmed during the experience and to support others leaving the exercise in altered states to use the restroom.

  • She attended a 3 day Ecstatic Presence workshop with Renetsu and was able to share her work amongst her peers while experiencing the healing and the open-hearted community and connection that Samma Karuna and its healing partners foster.

  • She went on to share her work with healers and teachers from around the globe through her participation in the Samma Karuna Awakening and Healing Program and associated community events this trip and continued to build our network of international collaborators and peers. 

  • Heather left Thailand intent to continue building on her skills and training in integrative medicine, breathwork for the benefit of survivors of trauma and those she serves.

Courage, Connection, & Calls

As word got out about our project, we began getting calls...

Sexual assault is often a taboo topic and when it happens, people frequently do not know where to begin. When our friend's sister, brother, child, or loved one was assaulted, we'd get a call.

We knew we wanted to do more to serve survivors and to provide a resource to those seeking assistance and information after sex assault and trauma. With our values in mind, we continued to take committed action toward this work. 

Happy Woman
Yoga Class

Yoga and meditation as medicine...

  • Having taken a deep dive into yoga and holistic therapies during 3 months spent in Thailand throughout her psychiatric residency and post, The Kintsukuroi Project's creator Heather Curtis MD deepened her practice locally, eventually traveling abroad once more to complete her 500 hr Registered Yoga Teacher training in 2020 in Goa, India.

  • While studying yoga previously in both Goa and Koh Phangan, Heather was exposed to various styles of meditation that changed her life and gifted her with skills to share with the survivors she serves.

I THRIVE and the Kintsukuroi Project put our skills to use connecting with survivors of trauma and fellow yoga teachers during our 2020 Goa, India yoga training. We networked with and advocated for peer survivors in the training while also having the opportunity to lead peers in meditation and guided visualizations. 

During 2020, the Kintsukuroi Project's creator also took part in an online women's group supporting survivors of trauma, illness, and those navigating the difficulties associated with the Covid-19 pandemic in goal setting and mindfulness. Within these groups creator Heather Curtis was able to advocate for survivors of trauma and to obtain suggestion feedback from peers to integrate into our evolving mission. As quarantines began to lift, we prepared to launch our 2021 photo advocacy project. We continued to refine our efforts to support survivors of trauma through art, integrative, and complimentary medicine methods.

Photography Light

Healing trauma through art & advocacy...

The Kintsukuroi Photo Advocacy Project

  • In 2021 we built the infrastructure and plan to support a 5 city survivor advocacy photo series.

  • The goal was to highlight the beauty and humanity of survivors through a series of portraits designed to challenge the stigma surrounding survivorship.

  • Unforeseen events and safety concerns as well as reinstated travel restrictions placed during the 2nd year of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the ultimate cancellation of the 5 city survivor advocacy series.

I THRIVE has no present plans to resume our photo advocacy project this academic year. 


We extend our thanks to our volunteer photographers and consultants who donated their time, insights, or services through the years to consider this project:

  • Idaho Falls, ID - Dalin Bernard & Christian Parrett of My Social Hustle

  • Austin, TX - Dalin Bernard & Christian Parrett of My Social Hustle

  • Salt Lake City, UT - Mae Bolton Photography

  • Los Angeles, CA - Jordan Zobrist Photography

  • Portland, OR - Michael Fofrich Design

Carl Jung

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”

Beautiful female face with green leaves of plant on pastel yellow background. Copy space f

...The Art of Medicine Assisted Therapies...

The field of psychiatry is experiencing a psychedelic medicine renaissance as past and novel compounds are being explored as potential treatments for mental health. 

I THRIVE's creator spent 6 months studying psychedelic assisted therapy with the California Institute of Integral Studies. She studied the MDMA Assisted Therapy for PTSD protocol with with the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies. She completed her Ketamine Assisted Therapy Training with PRATI.

The experienced gained in these trainings was integral to the advocacy work I THRIVE's creator later completed for survivors of trauma within the Utah and national psychedelic science community in July 2022. 

Spirit in action...

Healthy spiritual practices are shown to be protective against developing mental illness and to dictate improved prognosis for recovery after trauma. Spirituality has also been shown to play a positive role in healing from moral injury in patients suffering from PTSD, trauma, and betrayal and to have a positive relationship with post-traumatic growth.

  • In 2021, Heather traveled to Ikarya, Greece for a one month Tantra yoga and breathwork facilitator training where she shared the message of this work and advocated for survivors of trauma with peers from around the world. 

  • While in Greece Heather also networked with a founder of an international regulatory body designed to prevent abuses within the field of Tantra yoga.

  • After learning of ethical violations as well as sexual and spiritual abuses occurring in her home state, the Kintsukuroi Project's creator later advocated for the creation of a similar regulatory body July 2022 to protect against such abuses occurring within the psychedelic sciences.

At The Kintsukuroi Project, we define spirituality as whatever gives a person connection to the larger whole, one's values, purpose, and the transcendent self. This may include activities involving flow, religion, time in nature, time spent with family and friends, or various spiritual practices to name a few. 

  • The Kintsukuroi Project encourages survivors of sexual violence, illness, and trauma to explore the potential for amplified recovery through exploration of one's spirituality, examination of one's values, and what is meaningful in life.

  • Once defined, we encourage survivors to establish a healthy spiritual practice in alignment with these things.

Disclaimer: The Kintsukuroi Project supports people of all faiths and believes that all survivors deserve a chance to heal. We do not make recommendations for specific healings or trainings and encourage all survivors to be mindful of any spiritual or healing endeavors that they consider.


Ethical outreach in the face of adversity...

  • The Kintsukuroi Project has been championing survivor and mental health rights since 2015, well before its formal inception as a 501c3 nonprofit organization in 2019. (I THRIVE served as a 501c3 2019-2024. We continue now as an online resource portfolio and independent philanthropic effort).

  • After learning more about ethical violations occurring in Utah and the psychedelic science community throughout 2020-2023, Heather began efforts in social justice within the national mental health and psychedelic science community. 

  • Heather studied the work of her mentor Omar Reda MD, Martin Luther King Jr's concept of the 'Beloved Community,' Mahatma Gandhi's method of nonviolent resistance, and the work of leaders in the field of the psychedelic sciences. Leaning on the method of Satyagraha, or "truth force," Heather advocated for survivors of trauma utilizing service, public and private outreach, and performative art. Through these methods, The Kintsukuroi Project was successful in advocating for survivors of trauma in the Utah mental health and psychedelic science community. 

  • Throughout May and June, The Kintsukuroi Project received support and worked to offer additional support to the survivors of a local tragedy, assisting them to collect legal resources and applications for potential federal funding for recovery services. 

  • In June 2023 I THRIVE and The Kintsukuroi Project reached out to multiple investigative entities and ethics committees. We were successful in securing investigations at the Division of Professional Licensing and submitted our complaints for ethical review. 

  • We expect we will continue to learn from and to integrate these experiences for some time to come.

  • We intend that our efforts will create a safer community for persons living within Utah, for persons interested in pursuing psychedelic assisted therapy and treatment, and for survivors of trauma on a state level.

  • Our thoughts remain with the survivors who we serve.

Warrior One

Scientific Integrity

Psychiatric Ethics

Psychological Saftey

Advocacy for a regulatory body for providers within the psychedelic sciences to mitigate risk of abuse & ensure proper scientific protocols for these modes of healing.

Advocacy for additional community and cultural education prior to psychedelic legalization efforts.

Advocacy for safety, inclusion, and the involvement of regulatory bodies and ethics committees where appropriate within psychiatric clinical and research communities to mitigate risk of abuse.

Advocacy for safe and ethical conduct of providers within medical and therapeutic communities.

Advocacy for peer outreach and collaboration with DOPL as appropriate when evaluating concerns for ethical propriety and medical and patient safety.

Yoga Supply Wall

...Giving is Receiving...

Some of our favorite efforts as a project have involved giving and our yearly 'Giving Series.' Through the years we have donated home goods, comfort items, scholarships, trainings, and healing programs to benefit survivors of illness and trauma living in Utah and beyond.

At the Kintsukuroi Project we believe that giving is receiving.

It warms our hearts to know that our efforts serve deserving members of our community in their healing endeavors and efforts for inclusion. 


Embracing humanity and exploring integration...

Integration involves taking and applying the lessons learned within therapy or other healing endeavors to real life to promote lasting personal change. It can be compared to the process of becoming whole, the restoration of the self, moving forward, and, in some cases, it may even assist in the process of self-realization. 

In the metaphor of Kintsukuroi, integration would be the process of mending the self with gold, the process of post-traumatic growth, and in this journey of healing, becoming something ever more lovely than before. 

Examples of integration activities may include: writing, time in nature, journaling, developing one's spiritual practice, yoga, meditation, physical activity or exertion, investing in relationships with friends and family, reading, artistic expression, movement and somatic therapies, self-care, exploring new skills or talents, connecting with community and the transcendent self.

I THRIVE and The Kintsukuroi project have included various forms of integration to assist survivors of trauma to heal including yoga, meditation, movement, and art. We will continue to advocate for and to promote integration through our advocacy, outreach, and service to survivors.

Reaching a global network...

Read on below to learn a little more about Heather and The Kintsukuroi Project's global studies, work, and humanitarian efforts.


Cultural Studies:

Heather began her cultural studies while on study abroad in London 2007. She later studied culture and world religions traveling abroad in Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Mediterranean pursuing trainings & service.


Glorious School & Orphanage Arusha, Tanzania 2009:

Heather had the opportunity to serve the mentally ill, the disabled, and orphaned children during a one month service project in Africa the summer prior to entering medical school. 

Girl Waving US Flag


University of Utah Global Mental Health Certificate Training 2019:

During psychiatry residency Heather pursued additional trainings, classes, lectures, rotations, and international trainings to obtain skills in refugee cares and global mental health. 


Harvard Program for Refugee Trauma Certificate Program 2023:

Heather completed the HPRT training including live zoom trainings and a varied cohort of students including refugee mental health providers from around the globe. She has enjoyed sharing the experience gained at HPRT with the patients she serves.


Veteran Mental Health 2017-2019:

During psychiatry residency Heather studied traumatology and prioritized electives serving veterans at the SLC VAMC. She was a volunteer CPT group therapist for the vets & later conducted research with the VAMC Whole Health Program, resulting in two publications.


Serving Rural and Native American Populations 2022 -2023:

Heather served as medical director and inpatient psychiatrist at Idaho's largest critical access hospital where she served  a rural community inclduing members of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe at the neighboring Fort Hall Reservation. 

...Changing the social landscape & the narrative surrounding survivorship...

One survivor at a time.

Street Protest
Love the Earth
Group Discussion

...Increasing Access...

As we continued to grow as an organization, and given our creator's historical and continued studies, we elected to broaden our scope from serving survivors of sexual violence exclusively, to include outreach, information, and resources for all survivors of trauma and illness.


Though survivors of sexual violence remain a central part of our outreach and focus, we now make efforts to extend our information and support to additional survivors of trauma and illness in the community.

Happy Friends

Creating community and  healing together...

Historical efforts have included speaking events, experiential group work, and online group interventions.

Stay posted to see what we come up with next while we continue to get creative with our outreach and support to survivors.

Community Integrative Healing Events: Yoga, Breathwork, Meditation, and more!

Combatting stigma through community outreach, activism, and support.

Online events, trainings and programs providing resources and healing for survivors.

Donations and scholarships.

Digital campaigns and media.


...what we've learned so far...

Art has a way of cracking us open and it is in these spaces that the light can reach us. Healing happens when this light reaches our hearts and minds.

The darkness of humanity is paralleled only by its own light and it is this light that I have seen that compels me to continue.

"It all starts with an idea."

-Steven Hayes, PhD. ACT Bootcamp Marin County 2016.

The Future of The Kintsukuroi Project

...Stay tuned for our work and progress...


Portfolio & Information Portal

We will continue as a portfolio of our work, our evolving services, and as an information portal providing healing resources,  serving survivors of sexual violence, illness, and trauma. 

We have no current plans to host future photo or digital media campaigns, though we hope to extend access to include additional digital resources.

Image by Alev Takil

Thriving Community

A thriving community is one that practices both giving and receiving. 

We will continue to advocate for survivors of trauma and to serve our community as an organization.

We will aim to embody 'kintsukuroi' in our work, life, and relationships and to the survivors we serve at I THRIVE.

Doctor Holding Patient's Hand

Survivor Support

We plan to continue offering our digital resource portfolio of healing resources at 
We will continue our services including our yearly 'Yearly Art & Giving Series.' We continue to build our infrastructure and given present resources, are currently offering digital content only.

Stay tuned for more future services.


I THRIVE & The Kintsukuroi Project
Balancing Social Justice with Peace & Advocacy

...a quote from a book once given to I THRIVE's creator by a dear friend...

“The difference between a criminal and an outlaw is that while criminals frequently are victims, outlaws never are. Indeed, the first step toward becoming a true outlaw is the refusal to be victimized. All people who live subject to other people's laws are victims. People who break laws out of greed, frustration, or vengeance are victims. People who overturn laws in order to replace them with their own laws are victims. ( I am speaking here of revolutionaries.) We outlaws, however, live beyond the law. We don't merely live beyond the letter of the law-many businessmen, most politicians, and all cops do that-we live beyond the spirit of the law. In a sense, then, we live beyond society. Have we a common goal, that goal is to turn the tables on the 'nature' of society. When we succeed, we raise the exhilaration content of the universe. We even raise it a little bit when we fail.

When war turns whole populations into sleepwalkers, outlaws don't join forces with alarm clocks. Outlaws, like poets, rearrange the nightmare.

The trite mythos of the outlaw; the self-conscious romanticism of the outlaw; the black wardrobe of the outlaw; the fey smile of the outlaw; the tequila of the outlaw and the beans of the outlaw; respectable men sneer and say 'outlaw'; young women palpitate and say 'outlaw'. The outlaw boat sails against the flow; outlaws toilet where badgers toilet. All outlaws are photogenic. 'When freedom is outlawed, only outlaws will be free.' There are outlaw maps that lead to outlaw treasures. Unwilling to wait for mankind to improve, the outlaw lives as if that day were here. Outlaws are can openers in the supermarket of life.”

― Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker

White Brick Wall

...With Deep Gratitude...

I thank my mentor Vijay and his partner Anne for their guidance and support in my committed action toward The Kintsukuroi Project since 2015.


This website makes no effort to support or advocate for any specific dogma, spiritual path, orientation, political or social agenda. We are not a source for legal advice.

The information shared on this website is for general information purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice offered by healthcare professionals and physicians. If users have any personal questions regarding health, psychiatric, or psychological concerns, they are encouraged to contact a qualified health care provider for advice. All personal questions of the aforementioned nature posed to I THRIVE will be deferred.

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