the Spirit of Art Therapy 4



 Classroom scene at Pratt



Professor Arthur Robbins (Ed.D.) was the long-time boss of Pratt's art therapy department (formally, the Department of Creative Arts Therapy), although the head of the department was a woman. Having Prof.Robbins at the top, all the faculty members had a family-like connection.


Prof. Robbins led the core classes of art therapy through out two academic years. Other classes such as group art therapy, family art therapy, developmental psychology, and more, were led by the faculty with various backgrounds.


The theoretical stance of the Pratt's art therapy as a whole is based on the theory of object relations based on psychoanalysis.

However, people with different theoretical backgrounds, such as Gestalt therapy or Jungian psychology, coexisted without conflict. 


In addition, there are several courses such as art materials and art assessment, which are clearly defined as art therapy graduate credits accredited by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA).




The number of students participating in the class varies depended on the course, but roughly speaking, it's around twenty.


There were also some international students included.


I haven't made sure of the exact ages of the participants, but a quick look suggests that the average age might be in the early 30s.


The case of undergraduate students going straight to graduate school, which is common in Japan, was rarely observed here. Part of the students were already working in some kind of clinical setting.



The biggest learning for me at Pratt was the report I submitted to Prof. Robbins every semester.


It was based on my experience during my internship, and Prof. Robbins seemed to like it.

And I was encouraged by the short comments he wrote on top of my report.  


Another class that impressed me was Family Art Therapy by Elaine Rapp. She is a sculptor and a Gestalt art therapist as well.


In the stone work which she did in the workshop of anual Expo, participants chose a block of alabaster,

cave it into smooth and fitted shape in the palm finally making an alter for it.

It was so fabulous and impressive work. 


Once, she had to miss her class, and her friend David Gonzalez, a music therapist at NYU, took her place in her class. The music therapy by his lead with percussion was very powerful and I still recollect it vividly.



Another essential class for art therapy was the "developmental psychology".


Judy (Ed.D) was in charge of that.


When the class started in each semester,we were handed a thick copied materials as thick as a telephone book. In addition, there were recommended books around ten in each class.


This class was the core of my psychological study in art therapy.



One incompatibility was 'group art therapy' taught by department head L.


There, each student was assigned to lead the group art therapy for various population, and the target people were recruited from the class and role-played.


What I was assigned was group art therapy for AIDS patients, which was feared as a deadly disease at that time. I don't remember the details, but it seems that they drew a candle, emitted light from it, placed it in front of them, felt themselves and meditate.


L's comments were harsh.

"This is not a group"


"Well,are these people going to die in groups?"


But I did not utter my objection and held the tongue.


After the class my classmate Anne, who has a psychicability such as seeing auras, approached me and said, "Norio! that was a wonderful group! You did a great job!!"


This experience sparked my commitment to group art therapy.