Art Therapy in India

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Starting next week, the MPS Art Therapy Department will be conducting its fifth international program. This year, we will be working in Auroville, India, and collaborating with an alumna of our program, Krupa Jhaveri (Class of 2008), who has set up an art therapy organization in Auroville, Sankalpa Art Journeys.

We will be making regular posts about the program, so please check back.

Posted in Alumni, International, Professional Development, Students

The End of Carrying All


Register here.

Posted in Alumni, Conference, Faculty, Professional Development, Special Programs and Projects, Students

3 Questions with SJ Langer

One of the newest additions to our faculty, SJ Langer, has been making innovative use of the department’s two-way mirror.  He invites actors to play clients and gives students the opportunity to counsel them while the rest of the class looks on from the other side of the mirror.  I asked SJ a few questions about this training activity.

Where did this idea come from?  I am wondering if this is an idea that comes from your background in Film/Video at SVA.

Debi Farber, the department chair, came up with the idea of using the two-way mirror.  The idea for using actors came from thinking about my own experience in grad school doing mock sessions where classmates played the patient. It didn’t have much verisimilitude. You always knew it was your classmate and they weren’t very good at improv. The actors are more unpredictable to the students and thus it makes it a more realistic interview.

Where do you find the actors?

A friend of mine had done medical patient acting in the past so I asked her and she asked some friends who had similar experience. My comfort with working with actors I’m sure has come from my experience in film school directing my films.

What are some of the benefits of this two-way mirror exercise?

The two-way mirror helps the student forget the whole class is watching. It also enables me to ask questions to the class about what could be done differently or what is missing in the interview without disrupting the flow.



SJ is a writer and psychotherapist in private practice in New York City. SJ began his professional life at SVA with a BFA in filmmaking, which taught him to think differently and creatively. His clinical practice is also informed by psychodynamic, psychoanalytic theory, philosophy, neuroscience and phenomenology in order to work with a wide variety of clinical presentations. He is on the Executive Committee for ICP’s Psychotherapy Center for Gender and Sexuality. SJ writes about and presents internationally on gender theory, clinical practice with gender minorities and recovering from trauma. Most recently at the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Biennial Symposium, SVA’s Art Therapy conference: Trauma, Art and Social Constructs, PCGS’s Trans*Literate, Philadelphia Trans* Health Conference and was the White Institute’s Annual Pride Lecture, Trans* Bodies, Mirror Failures and the Tacit Knowledge of Gender. His academic articles include How Dresses Can Make You Mentally Ill: Examining Gender Identity Disorder in Children, Gender (dis)Agreement: A Dialogue on the Clinical Implications of Gendered Language and Our Body Project: From Mourning to Creating the Transgender Body.


Posted in Uncategorized

Status Update: Counseling in Schools

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This past March, MPS Art Therapy alumni Jennifer Byxbee, ATR-BC, LCAT (Class of 2007) and Amanda J. Zucker, ATR-BC, LCAT (Class of 2011) ran a pilot program as part of the Department’s art therapy in schools initiative. This program, Status Update, focused on blogging with an adolescent population and explored various themes: identity, bullying, community, and relationships and how these topics relate to their lives and how they play out on social media. Parts of the group have been documented and shared through a multi-user blog, you can check it out here.

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Adolescents spend an estimated 7.5 hours per day using social media, almost as long as the workday of most adults. In 2012, 95 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 17 used the Internet (Office of Adolescent Health 2013). The center of their social worlds has shifted from their neighborhoods, schools and group affiliations to the Internet. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have become platforms for teens to express ideas; create, maintain and end relationships; and develop online identities. This shift is not only changing their maturation process but also our future. During adolescence the brain becomes wired to seek novelty (Siegel 2013). This makes teens particularly susceptible to a changing technological world. Along with novelty, teens are more likely to take risks, reacting to their world without fully taking time to understand the consequences (Siegel 2013).

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In this rapidly changing society therapy continues to follow the same old model. We have not kept up with the times. In most cases helping professionals such as teachers and therapists are ignoring the new Internet norms as opposed to educating adolescents on the threats and issues they face online. As art therapists we have the unique opportunity to utilize these tools to encourage community, connection, expression, and identity formation. We can give adolescents freedom of expression in a medium that comes naturally to them. We can collaborate with them to discuss and analyze what this expression means and how it affects their lives.


As therapists, we are responsible to meet our clients where they are and maintain their safety. We can use blogging as a therapeutic method to engage with a medium familiar to our adolescent clients, while moderating and modeling safe use. This creates a holding environment for our clients. The Internet is changing how people spend their time, socialize and develop. It is our duty to address and understand our clients’ lives as they live them, and to support them as they develop their most authentic selves.


The MPS Art Therapy Department has been providing financial and material support for alumni-run programs since 2012. To date, we have developed programs utilizing stop-motion animation and photography/tablet computer technology, and we are interested in continuing to explore art therapy applications of emerging technologies, as well as more traditional approaches to art-making.

Posted in Alumni, Exhibition, Professional Development, Special Programs and Projects

Save the Date: MPS Art Therapy Conference featuring Wangechi Mutu


Friday, September 11, 2015 at the SVA Theatre.

Registration info will be posted soon.

Images: Wangechi Mutu, The End of carrying All, film stills, 2015

Posted in Conference, Special Programs and Projects

‘Integrating Art Therapy and Yoga Therapy’ Book Launch Party: Saturday, June 20, 5-7pm


MPS Art Therapy alumna Karen Gibbons (Class of 2005) will be celebrating the publication of her new book, Integrating Art Therapy and Yoga Therapy: Yoga, Art and the Use of Intention, on Saturday, June 20, 5-7pm at the 440 Gallery at 440 6th Avenue (btw 9th and 10th Avenue), Brooklyn, NY.

Integrating Art Therapy and Yoga Therapy: Yoga, Art and the Use of Intention is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, ISBN: 978-1-84905-782-0. Please join us in congratulating Karen on this achievement!

Posted in Alumni, Exhibition, Professional Development

3 Questions for Irene Rosner David, PhD, ATR-BC, LCAT

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1.You have taught both the Clinical Topics in Challenged Populations and the Clinical Topics in Trauma courses to second year students in the MPS Art Therapy program, how has your teaching impacted your clinical work as Director of Therapeutic Arts at Bellevue Hospital?
I think one area of professional life infiltrates and enriches the other; there is a natural back-and-forth rhythm. As an instructor at SVA I shape material so as to best inform about clinical issues and aspects of trauma. My work at Bellevue Hospital is the source from which the fountain of material flows, but there is a reciprocal benefit to my hospital work. The students’ interest and responses energize me, both in direct clinical work and in supervising staff. My teaching is a source of immense gratification, and I take this feeling to the hospital. The educational climate further widens my eyes, causes me to absorb even more so as to optimally teach my students.

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2. How has art therapy developed at Bellevue Hospital over the years?
When I began working at Bellevue in the early 1970s the creative arts were exclusively practiced with psychiatric populations. My position was in the medical division where previously only recreational activities had been offered to patients. From the beginning, I saw that disabled and traumatized patients benefitted from art activities in ways that were beyond diversional. Over time, I advocated for raising the bar and gradually engendered administrative support for the creative arts as therapy in medicine. This expanded and elevated art therapy to a substantive clinical service that contributes to effective coping with physical and cognitive impairment.

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3. Bellevue set up an Ebola Treatment Unit last year to treat people returning from West Africa. Can you talk about your experience with this, especially with regard to emotions evoked by staff at the hospital, as well as the potential for art therapy?
Working at a historic institution and major trauma center, one becomes accustomed to high profile cases and media appeal. In my experience over the years, whether at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the resurgence of infectious tuberculosis or now with the threat of Ebola, we process our emotions without affecting patient care. For example, we have had an art therapy program in the TB isolation unit since the 1980s, without concern about contagion because we follow infection control guidelines. Clearly, patients with an ominous disease who are quarantined or isolated experience a range of emotions that can be addressed by art therapy. In the case of the patient with Ebola, only essential medical staff provided care, but I did pass along art materials via the critical care physicians.

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Irene Rosner David, PhD, ATR-BC, LCAT is a Director of Therapeutic Arts at the Bellevue Hospital Center, where she developed and implemented medical art therapy. She has also undertaken qualitative research on the benefits of art therapy for brain injured patients as it cultivates cognition. Irene organized an exhibition for the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which displayed works of art created by staff who experienced personal and institutional trauma, such as loss of loved ones, or re-deployment when the hospital was evacuated. She also curated annual art exhibitions for the anniversary of 9/11, including pieces created by patients in Bellevue’s WTC program. She is continually encouraged by the artistic and emotional expression her patients have developed under her care. Despite their disabilities and physical illnesses, her patients remain eager and invested. Irene has been a member of the MPS Art Therapy Department faculty since 2003.

Photos provided by Irene Rosner David.

Posted in Exhibition, Faculty, Professional Development

Alumni Exhibitions

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Macarena Rufin, ATR-BC, LCAT (Class of 2012)
FLY ON THE WALL is a rendering of the art psychotherapy process, communicated through film, music, photography and live improvisation. Viewers are invited to enter and explore the rendition, taking the visceral role of a “fly on the wall”. The client’s depicted in the work are both artists and “non-artists”, though its’ curators assert that all people have an artist within and are navigating this world artistically in some form or fashion. The goal of the exhibit is to highlight the relationship between client and art therapist using contemporary and multi-sensory modalities, furthering awareness of the field and practice of art therapy. The exhibit further strives to illuminate the client’s reflections and self-exploration of their artistic process, celebrating individuality and the uniqueness of their inner and outer experiences.



Show opening at the 440 GALLERY in the project space, June 4 – July 5, 2015. Opening Reception Saturday, June 6, 6-9pm.

Ellen Chuse, Karen Gibbons (Class of 2005), Nancy Lunsford
“Chronicles,” explores the process of myth, memory and exposition. Ellen Chuse’ work, “Little Jewels,” a series of small paintings hung in a grid, is the most abstract work in the exhibit. The colorful, jewel-like, seed imagery is a meditation on process and organic genesis. Karen Gibbons painted collages merge dream-like family photographs with animal imagery. The layered gem tones and gritty linear energy evoke a narrative mystery. Nancy Lunsford’s screen prints of vintage cars, a series called Memory Lane, are the most straightforward illustrative work in the show. Their sketchy simplicity, along with handwritten chronicles of cities visited by each car, transform the work into memoir.

Image Copyright © 2015 Karen Gibbons, All rights reserved.

Posted in Alumni, Exhibition, Professional Development

Art Therapy in Public Schools

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Marygrace Berberian’s Community Lecture from this past March, Art Therapy in Public Schools, has been posted to the MPS Art Therapy Vimeo page.

Posted in Professional Development, Special Programs and Projects

Bushwick Open Studios 2015


MPS Art Therapy program alum Sheila Fontanive (Class of 2011) will be exhibiting work along with members of her family as part of the Bushwick Open Studios, June 5-7, 2015.

There will be a reception for Relative Function on Saturday, June 6, 5-7pm at True Wheel/Juan Fontanive Studio, 1717 Troutman Street (between Irving & Knickerbocker Avenue), Suite 225, Ridgewood, NY.

Posted in Alumni, Exhibition, Professional Development