art · art therapy

Beginnings of Art Therapy

This is a condensed version of the history of art therapy. I included the main parts of the profession for you to get an understanding of how it developed.

Art in Cave Paintings

Art has been used since humankind has been around as a way to communicate. El Castillo cave in Cantabria Spain which dates at 40000 years to the Aurignacian period, is the oldest cave painting. Cave paintings were tools to use to communicate, it has been theorized it is a religious ceremony that used cave paintings.

Pioneers of Art Therapy

In 1940’s art became a discipline in America and Europe. Margaret Naumburg began publishing her work. Art therapy evolved from Freud and Jung. Freud’s concept of consciousness and memories and thoughts and feelings are the base for art therapy. Jung had an interest in psychological meaning in artwork. The mandala (Sanskrit for magic circle) was was part of his personal and professional practice.

Art Educators

Art Educators also influenced the art therapy profession. Frank Cizek, Viktor Lowenfeld and Florence Cane were some of the pioneers who developed art therapy.

Frank Cizek focused on the child’s artistic abilities and stressed the importance of free expression in art. Lowenfeld studied the child’s art during their stage of growth. Florence Cane was one of their art therapists. Cane “developed the teaching methods to free artistic expression”. Her sister Margaret was acknowledged s the mother of art therapy. She “concentrated on developing methods of therapy using art.”

Psychiatric Treatment with Art Therapy

During the 1940-1960’s Margaret Naumburg, introduced art therapy to psychiatric community. She brought art therapy to psychiatrists psychologists, art educators and medical schools and psychiatric hospitals. She expanded and introduced art therapy in conferences and museums.

Art therapy Assessment

Hanna Kwiatkowska used art therapy in groups at a psychiatric hospital. She later began to assess families. She used art to treat the family’s communication and work through their dynamics. Hanna Kwiatkowska develped a six-step procedure for the family to be evaluated.

The six drawings consist of :

  1. A free picture
  2. A picture of your family
  3. An abstract family portrait
  4. A picture started with the help of a scribble
  5. A joint family scribble
  6. A free picture

There are numerous assessments in Art Therapy. In order to facilitate the assessment, a therapist must have a master’s level degree in art therapy.


A History of Art Therapy in the United States by Maxine Borowsky Junge with Paige Pateracki Asawa