In 1971, a group of pioneers in the profession co-founded the Art Therapy Program. The university approved the program on a one-year experimental basis, with Bernard Levy as program director and Elinor Ulman, founder of the first Art Therapy journal, as coordinator of clinical training. The inaugural year began with just four courses, 10 students and two part-time faculty, Edith Kramer and Hanna Kwiatkowska.
That experiment has grown into a one of the most respected programs, with several dozen faculty, graduate and combined degree programs, hundreds of alumni, a one-of-a-kind trauma track and our own GW Art Therapy Clinic.
Art therapy includes a variety of approaches to art. At one end of the spectrum, art as a means of nonverbal communication in a psychotherapeutic process is stressed. Art products are used to assist the understanding and working through of emotional problems. At the other end of the range, therapy derives from experience of the artistic process itself. Here, artwork is encouraged for its special psychological value ... the age-old power of the arts to reconcile conflicting forces within the individual and between the individual and society."
Art Therapy Program Co-Founder
Watercolorist and ceramic artist Bernard Levy served as Art Therapy Program director from 1971 to 1984. He made numerous contributions to art therapy literature, specifically in the areas of assessment and research. Levy was also a professor in the GW Psychological and Brain Sciences Department and an honorary life member of the American Art Therapy Association.
Elinor Ulman taught in the Art Therapy Program from 1971 to 1988 and was an honorary life member of the American Art Therapy Association. She was founder, editor and publisher of The Bulletin of Art Therapy (now The American Journal of Art Therapy), the first forum devoted exclusively to the topic. She also edited two of the first books on art therapy published in the United States.
A pioneer in the field of art therapy, Edith Kramer authored several books on the discipline including Art Therapy in a Children’s Community, Art as Therapy With Children and Childhood and Art Therapy. She taught in the Art Therapy Program from 1972 to 2000 and was a painter, sculptor and honorary life member of the American Art Therapy Association.
Exhibiting sculptor Hanna Yaxa Kwiatkowska pioneered clinical work in family art therapy and introduced art therapy into the research program at the National Institute of Mental Health. She taught in GW’s program from 1971 to 1980, authored the book Family Therapy and Evaluation Through Art and was an honorary life member of the American Art Therapy Association. In her honor, her family created the Hanna Kwiatkowska award.