Women’s History Month: March 2019

Happy Women’s History Month! Women have been seminal in the development of creative expression and the creative arts therapies. Highlighted are the historical influence of leaders across multiple disciplines who illuminated the power of the arts as a tool for healing and helped paved the way for organizations such as ours to serve the community today.


Music Therapy: Isa Maud Ilsen

In 1926, Isa Maud Ilsen founded the National Association for Music in Hospitals. In this 1926 article, “How Music is Used in Hospitals,” Isa writes that “music from the beginning of recorded time has been an important element in the life of the human race and is now coming back to its own as an everyday aid to life.” Pictured below (with Isa on the right) are examples of concerts offered to patients at two hospitals in New York.

Click HERE to read the full article.

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Dance Therapy: Marian Chace

Marian Chace is a seminal figure in the development of dance/movement therapy. Chace was originally interested in visual arts then took a dance lesson to physically recover from a back injury. After professionally studying dance, she innovated the use of “dance as communication” in the 1940s in response to the growing need for treatment of veterans returning from WWII. She went on to become the first president of the American Dance Therapy Association (1966-1968).

Click HERE for Marian’s bio.

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Expressive Arts Therapy: Dr. Natalie Rogers

Dr. Natalie Rogers was a pioneer in expressive arts therapy. Building on her father’s work, she developed a multi-modal, person-centered expressive arts process which she named The Creative Connection©. In 1984, Natalie, along with her daughter Frances Fuchs, founded and began teaching at the Person-Centered Expressive Therapy Institute in Santa Rosa, California.

Click HERE for Natalie’s bio.

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Art Therapy: Dr. Lucille Durham Venture & Margaret Naumburg

Dr. Lucille Durham Venture (photo on left) was an outstanding clinician, educator, mentor, and advocate for multiculturalism and social activism within the field of art therapy. She has the distinction of being the first person in the profession to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Art Therapy. Dr. Venture worked in communities characterized by racial and economic oppression and raised the standard of the profession through her awareness of, and responsiveness to, the needs of culturally-diverse client populations.

Margaret Naumburg (photo on right) is widely credited with being the first psychotherapist to use art therapy. While working with children at the New York Psychiatric Institute, she developed her method of diagnosis and therapy by teaching free art expression. Naumburg directly influenced the introduction of a graduate level program at New York University in 1969.

Click HERE for Lucille’s bio.
Click HERE to read Lucille’s “Salute of the Week” in the October 30th, 1976 edition of “Baltimore Afro-American.”
Click HERE for Margaret’s bio.

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Drama Therapy: Gertrud Schattner

Gertrud Schattner, one of the founders of the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA), was a Viennese actress from the 1930s who worked with concentration camp survivors in Switzerland after the war through writing, drama, and performance. Schattner wrote that her “work with performance especially provided enough containment and stimulation for many to regain their will to live.” In a 1955 Dramascope article, Sherry Reiter quotes Dr. Nellie McCaslin, writing: “Gert was more than a pioneer . . . by initiating drama activities with therapeutic goals, she paved the way for drama therapists who were to follow.”

Click HERE to read the full Dramascope article honoring Gertrud.

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Bibliotherapy: Arleen Hynes

Arleen Hynes began working at St. Elizabeths in Washington, D.C. and in 1974 she established the first hospital-based training program in bibliotherapy. Hynes encouraged patients to read poems, short stories, and essays and to then discuss their feelings about what they had read. She often brought magazines with pictures to encourage their self-expression and interactions with others. In 1980, Hynes became the first president of what later became the National Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy. Continuing to advance the field, in 1994, she co-authored “Biblio/Poetry Therapy: The Interactive Process” with her daughter, Mary Hynes-Berry.

Click HERE to read Arleen’s bio.  

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