Phototherapy Training Seminar, Sunday November 10, 2019 at the Expressive Therapy Summit in NYC

I am pleased to announce that we will be offering a three hour Workshop/Seminar on Phototherapy, Sunday November 10, 2019 in midtown Manhattan, through the Expressive Therapy Summit. As a pioneer in the field of 'Phototherapy'; the therapeutic uses of photography, I will first review the evolution of my own work in Phototherapy, beginning with grants from the Polaroid Foundation when I was Clinical Director of the Henry Street Settlement School from 1973 until 1980, when I then joined the graduate art therapy faculty of the College of New Rochelle and began teaching courses in Phototherapy. This discussion will be followed by a demonstration of the uses of photography as a fascinating way to explore unconscious imagery. We all select unique, visual metaphors when we decide to 'click the shutter' and capture images that speak to us from deeply within, as well as when we choose images that have already been taken and elaborate on them in creative ways. The exercises offered in this experiential Seminar will prepare the participants to use photography with clients in clinical settings, as well as with themselves, to achieve personal insight. This will be the 10th annual Expressive Therapy Summit held in New York City and it is fitting that I will be presenting an updated version of the first 'Phototherapy Seminar' that I presented at the NYC Summit 10 years ago.

Registration is available online at:

Dr. Robert Wolf is trained in both Creative Art Therapy and Psychoanalysis and is currently the President of the Institute for Expressive Analysis and the Clinical Coordinator and Faculty member of the Graduate Art Therapy Program at the College of Mount Saint Vincent. He had been Professor Emeritus at the College of New Rochelle until it's unfortunate closure in August 2019. The Graduate Art Therapy Program, which had been offering through CNR, high-quality training for creative art therapists since 1978, has temporarily transitioned CMSV to enable currently enrolled students to complete their degree in a seamless fashion. CMSV is now in the process of applying for full program approval to enable the continued offering of their unique program that emphasizes and promotes the evolution of their students as both artists and clinicians. Phototherapy has always been a central part of this graduate training program since its inception, and over the years the technology used in teaching has evolved from exclusive focus on work with polaroid film, to 35 mm film using black-and-white darkroom processing, and finally to digital processing of photographs using digital editing software. While the CNR program had offered a New York State approved 12 graduate credit Certificate in Advanced Phototherapy Training, a unique option for those intent on the most in-depth training available anywhere in the world, we are hopeful that this Certificate will once again soon be available through CMSV.

Dr. Robert Wolf

Reflecting on my years at The College of New Rochelle through Woodcarving

The College of New Rochelle formally closed its doors on August 10, 2019 after over 110 years of providing quality higher education for thousands of graduates. As one might imagine, my life journey took me through many different experiences and challenges during my 39 year tenure there as a professor in the graduate art therapy program. As an artist, there has been one particular experience that seems to have encompassed these experiences. In the mid 1980s I had the opportunity to acquire several pieces of poplar wood cut from a friend’s tulip tree that had been struck by lightning and required complete removal. I took these pieces and sealed the fresh cut sides with wax to allow proper drying over several years before attempting to carve.

I then brought the raw wood to the sculpting studio at CNR where I would have access to an array of sculpting tools. I began working on one piece sometime during the late 1980s and due to the wood’s density and challenging grain structure, approached and worked on the piece for only short periods of time, allowing longer intervals in between, for it to remain dormant.

This process went on for around 30 years. As I look back I can now see that each approach to this piece had been influenced by my then current life experiences during each period of work, which by the way, is often the case with the production of any artwork. The difference here, between the many other pieces of art that I had also produced during these years, is that this one contained and compressed many more of my experiences of during this extended period of time.

When the college announce that it was closing I decided to attempt to bring some closure to this piece, as I was not then aware of any future easy access to the type of tools I had available there. So for the last academic year, 2018-2019, I worked hard to complete as much as possible. In May 2019, I bought the rough cut piece upstate to my summer home where I had constructed an outdoor sculpting studio and proceeded to research new woodcarving tools and materials that would enable me to bring closure and complete this piece. Below are studio photos of the completed piece, “Timeline”, 34”H x 24”W x 19”D, mounted on a black matte micarta base with a recessed ball bearing swivel mechanism. This piece reflects both the many years of the life of the tree and the many years of my life during the creation of the work.




Fortunately, The College of Mount Saint Vincent has begun the process of reapplying to NY State Education Department,for our program to become part of their growing Graduate School. We are currently ‘teaching out’ our second year students who had begun the program at CNR, and are awaiting final approval for the entire program transition.

During my tenure at CNR I had developed a unique clinical stone carving course where I was able to offer my stone carving skills to students in a manner that enhanced their clinical skills. The “Workshop in Imagery Transformation”, where graduate art therapy students learned to apply their growing skills in stone carving as a medium to explore clinical phenomena as they work with clients in clinical settings, provided what I call a Visceral Learning* experience. By focusing on transference/countertransference issues that inevitably arise when working with resistant patients, this course had often been referred to by CNR students during their exit interviews, as “A life changing experience”. I’m so pleased to know that this opportunity may now continue to provide similar learning experiences for future graduate art therapy students.

*     "Visceral Learning: The Integration of Creative Process in Education and Psychotherapy, Art Therapy, July 1990, pp. 60-69. 

College Closure and Promotion to Professor Emeritus at The College of New Rochelle

It is with great sadness the I announce the closure of The College of New Rochelle, after having been on the graduate art therapy faculty for almost 40 years. After several years of financial struggle the college will be forced to close its doors in July, 2019. I’ve been proud to have been part of an institution that has had a mission of education for service and have had the opportunity to be instrumental in developing the clinical component of this program, utilizing my training and experience as a psychoanalyst and art therapist. While at CNR, I had also pioneered the field of Phototherapy and created a one of a kind Certificate in Advanced Phototherapy Training, along with other unique courses that have integrated my training in stone carving and creative processing of Dreams, within the fabric of clinical art therapy. And finally, on a more positive note, s a parting gesture the College of New Rochelle has promoted me to the esteemed rank of Professor Emeritus.

As I move on the next chapter in my professional life, I am happy to also announce that The College of Mount Saint Vincent, in Riverdale, NY will be picking up our graduate art therapy program to ‘teach-out’ the second year students currently in our ‘pipeline’ and allow them to graduate in a seamless manner. At CMSV, we are currently working to have the entire program transferred over to enable us to begin recruiting new students, hopefully within the next few months, and continue our tradition of offering these unique and innovative courses as part of our training program.

We are also attempting to transfer over our ability to provide Continuing Education credits for LCATs who would like to take some of our courses for CE, license renewal credit, as well as our Certificate in Advanced Phototherapy Training.

More updates to come regarding this transition.

Special Seminar: Sensory/Motor Group Supervision; Creative Processing of Clinical Phenomena

The Institute for Expressive Analysis 
A Creative Seminar Meeting with

Professor Robert Irwin Wolf, DPsa, LCAT, LP, NCPsya, ATR-BC

“Sensory/Motor Group Supervision: Creative Processing of Clinical Phenomena”

Sunday, March 10, 2019 * 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Greenwich House * 27 Barrow Street, 4th Floor * New York, NY 10014

This 2-hour Workshop/Seminar, will utilize volunteers from the audience to present clinical cases and simulate a group supervision experience. The facilitator will help the group utilize a variety of expressive modalities and methods of sensory motor expression to create a supervisory experience that explores non-verbal, implicit forms of communication in order to understand and process transference and countertransference material and enhance their work as clinicians. Participants will then be prepared to use this process with individuals in treatment.

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

1. Utilize sensory motor communication within a group setting
2. Describe the relationship between ’Implicit’ memory and the unconscious
3. Explain how we communicate implicit feelings through non-verbal forms of expression

Professor Robert Irwin Wolf, Dpsa, LCAT, LP, NCPsya, ATR-BC holds a doctorate in Psychoanalytic Studies and is both a licensed creative art therapist and psychoanalyst. He is currently the President of the Institute for Expressive Analysis and, for over 35 years, has been on the graduate faculty of the College of New Rochelle and Pratt Institute, where he has trained and supervised groups of graduate art therapy students. He has also been on the faculties of several postgraduate psychoanalytic training institutes, conducted numerous professional seminars and has published internationally, many articles and book chapters on his work. As a professional sculptor and photographer, he has also exhibited his artwork internationally.

There will be 2 CE’s offered for LP’s, & LCAT’s; proof of attendance for all others. It is the responsibility of the participant seeking CE credits to comply with requirements. Upon completion, a certificate of attendance will be emailed to all participants.

This event is free for IEA students & members. $60 for non-IEA members. Cancellation Policy: Please be advised that no refunds are offered after registration is complete.

Institute for Expressive Analysis is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed psychoanalysts. #P-0028..

Institute for Expressive Analysis is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed creative arts therapists. #CAT-0029.

Advanced Registration Required: (go to News & Events)

Phototherapy Training for 37.5 Continuing Education Credits for Licensed Creative Art Therapists

The College of New Rochelle is pleased to offer it's unique 15 week graduate level course in Phototherapy Training, for LCATs to earn 37.5 CEs. This course will be held for 15  weeks on Thursdays, beginning January 24, 2019 from 4 - 6 PM on the New Rochelle campus, with 30 minutes additional online time. Therapeutic uses of photography have been of great interest to creative art therapists and as the instructor for this course, I have been a pioneer in developing this unique Phototherapy training program. This course will integrate contemporary concepts of neuroscience to demonstrate how the power of visual imagery, captured within the photographic image, provides a spontaneous and creative access to deeper levels of 'implicit' memories and experiences. In this course, students will first be taught necessary technical skills in a fully equipped Mac Lab, using the latest Adobe Photoshop software. Other photographic media such as cell phone cameras and editing software apps, will also be demonstrated. The students will then be led through a series of creative directives and shown, through online and classroom demonstrations, how to utilize the photographic medium to uncover and explore unconscious material. By first experiencing this creative process, students will then be able to integrate photographic modalities into their clinical work with their patients.

Our first offering of our Dream Seminar for currently practicing licensed creative art therapists seeking Continuing Education Credits during our Fall 2018 semester has been a great success and we intend to continue to offer relevant courses for active LCATs who are seeking CEs for license renewal. This is a wonderful way for LCATs to get all the required credits for the entire three year cycle for license renewal.

The Crisis of Our Time: Promoting Primal Fear and Violence For Political Gain

Stimulating fear mobilizes the most primitive parts of our brain, weakening our ability to make reasoned, rational judgements and triggering primal survival reflexes that have led to the escalation of violence that we've been witnessing lately. By stoking fear, creating artificial ‘crises’ with blatant lies and distorted truths, right wing politicians and media groups have been encouraging this form of primal violence while carefully disclaiming any responsibility.

Freud described psychoanalysis as the ‘search for truth’ and saw this as essential for emotional health. It is ironic that the lies and 'fake news' that these extreme media groups accuse the legitimate news media of reporting, is what they are actually themselves the true masters of creating. Campaign ads and carefully selected phrases are designed to dehumanize often already marginalized groups of people and make them scapegoats for the violent expression of pent up rage. We see this violence specifically aimed at those groups identified by this hateful rhetoric.

Politicians and news/media organizations, such as Fox News and Breitbart, have become prominent voices of bigotry and racism and in this country; stirring this hatred and violence. They follow an agenda that is creating an insidious, divisive culture of lies and deception that is designed to further promote the split that has begun to threaten the cohesiveness of our society, for political gain.

It’s time to speak up and remove politicians from office who actively promote or passively allow this crisis to continue. It’s time for us all to ‘search for truth’ on our ballots next Tuesday.

Your vote counts, so please VOTE!

9th Annual Expressive Therapy Summit now offers CEs for both LCATs and LPs

The Expressive Therapies Summit, being held from October 11- 14, 2018 in New York City, will now be able to provide CEs for licensed psychoanalysts, in addition to the other licensed clinical professionals, such as creative art therapists and social workers.

This will open the way for psychoanalysts to explore workshops and seminars that focus on the clinical application of a variety of expressive modalities within their clinical work.

On Sunday, October 14, I will be presenting a 3 hour Seminar, which will now able to provide 3 CEs to both LCATs and LPs, on Expressive/Analytic Group Supervision, where I will be creating a group, from volunteers, to demonstrate the use of a variety of creative modalities within the supervision group format to identify and explore countertransference issues.

More About the Creative Process...

When I joined the graduate art therapy faculty at the college of New Rochelle, in 1980, as a practicing art therapist and fine artist, I was determined to help design a curriculum that embraced creativity and ensured that students continued to develop themselves as fine artists while they embarked on their journey to train as clinicians. One of the special courses I developed, to promote exposure to the unique aspects of stone carving and help students apply their personal experience within this process to explore clinical phenomena such as countertransference, was the Workshop in Imagery Transformation. Here, students were required to create a stone sculpture and describe their ongoing experience as a parallel to working with a resistant patient. Over the years I added an online component so students could post weekly progress photos, describe their experience and comment on classmates posts. We also worked, in class as a group, to continue this processing on deeper levels, as countertransference inevitably leads. I've been extremely gratified over these many years to have received many comments from students, that this course was among their favorites and was often described during exit interviews, as a 'life altering experience'!

I had also offered a briefer, preliminary version of this process to Pratt graduate art therapy students over their summer session programs in New Hampshire, during the mid 70's- mid 80's. But these were much shorter and less intense experiences where the focus was more simply on the creating of art.

I believe that all art therapists who work with other peoples' unconscious material, will often have their own unconscious issues stirred by this powerful resonance. Creating artwork gives the therapist an opportunity to externalize material that has been triggered and place this within their art. A more developed description of my own experience using stone carving to process my countertransference with a challenging patient can be found in my book,"No One Can Hear Me Scream", 2010, which was an expanded version of an article written for 'Psychoanalytic Perspectives", in 2010. (The PDF of this article is available below on this website, in the 'Publications' section of my Vitae)

So with this as background, I would like to share how my second stone sculpture of this summer has progressed thus far. Below you see some views of this piece which is being formed from a stone that is similar to the first piece shown in my last post. Whatever unconscious material that I have been externalizing into this work has not yet made it to my consciousness. Sometimes whatever has been externalized in our art needs time to be more fully understood, and the simple process of externalization has a healing effect through sublimation.

I plan to post photos of the 'finished' piece whenever I feel a sense of completion for the moment, and my unconscious allows me to bring closure to this particular form. Creativity is an expression of the unconscious; which is an ongoing process like a river that is always flowing; and if I allowed myself to follow that river indefinitely, I might continue to work on this piece until there was nothing left but dust.


Professor Robert Irwin Wolf,

July 2018

Summer is a time for Creative Expression

The field of creative art therapy has grown increasingly focused on the medical model, where the goal is to first diagnose and then cure an illness. Unfortunately, this focus has moved our field away from it's original direction; having grown out of the human potential movement of the 1960's, where we had focused simply on personal growth and developing one's creative potential as a total human being, as the main goal.

At the College of New Rochelle, where I have been a full time faculty member since 1980, I, and my colleague, Dr. Patricia St. John, have been extremely careful to design a curriculum that encourages the artistic development of our graduate art therapy students, as they develop their clinical skills. 

As an artist and creative art therapist, I strongly believe in the power of creativity as a healing process, as well as a way to create space for introspection and personal growth. Summer is a wonderful time for me to work outdoors and become part of nature as I create new stone sculpture. Below are photos of my first piece that was finished, so far, this summer. As yet it is unnamed... I'm open to suggestions!



Below you will see the final shaping of the rough form of my next piece... a work in progress...



I will post a photo of the finished piece when it is completed

Therapeutic Uses of Photography: An Experiential Seminar March 31, 2018

I would like to personally invite the creative art therapy and psychoanalytic communities to attend a unique seminar that will explore the uses of photography within the depth-oriented mode of psychoanalytic treatment. The field of neuroscience has been becoming increasingly interested in what we, at the Institute for Expressive Analysis, as expressive analysts, have known for years: unconscious material is communicated through sensory motor forms of expression. 'Implicit feelings and memory' (unconscious by definition) are first experienced during periods of brain development prior to the development of cognitive processes thus providing a powerful connection between visual communication and early, formative emotional experiences. This Seminar will explore the power of visual communication, through photographic images and demonstrate the application of this process and technology within psychodynamic treatment. Participants are encouraged to bring disposable photographs of themselves at different ages, family and friends, to use during the experiential portion of this seminar. Some basic art supplies will be provided but you are also encouraged to bring your own unique art materials of choice.

The event will be hosted by the Institute for Expressive Analysis, Saturday March 31, at the Greenwich House, 27 Barrow Street, 4th Floor, NYC 10014

Please be advised that pre-registration is required and 2 CEs will be offered for LPs. For more detailed information and to register please go to: . Space may be limited so register early.

Dr. Robert Irwin Wolf, President

The Institute for Expressive Analysis

Senior Member, NPAP

Why is a Doctoral Degree Important for Expressive Analysts?

The Institute for Expressive Analysis grew out of the expressive therapy movement and was designed for those practitioners who wished to apply their theory and practice to a more depth-oriented, psychoanalytic treatment model. This integration of non-verbal, sensory motor communication and expression of unconscious material, within the psychoanalytic process, has now become the focus of the latest neuro-psych research, and is currently described as implicit memory function. This research is showing how the infant’s brain perceives the world on a sensory motor level and stores affective experiences within the primitive part of the brain, on this sensory motor level. These very early experiences, (often including even pre-natal perceptions), are internalized during the most formative years of brain development, and become the internal template through which all future experience will be filtered. Early attachment experience is at the very core of this structure. As the brain continues to develop, cognition and explicit memory become the overlay to this more primitive core of our brain, attempting to ‘understand’ what is ‘felt’ but not recognized or clearly remembered. This often leads to reenactment of dysfunctional experiences without insight into the cause of this behavior.

We have been, initially as expressive art therapists, and now expressive analysts, intuitively working on this more primitive level of experience by being open to and working with all forms of non-verbal communication with our patients. We are now finally able to have scientific research validate our experience.

Our next step, as a profession, is to articulate our unique perspective and expand our voice within the analytic community. We need to offer other, more classically trained analysts, insight into our unique way of working and encourage the expansion of the use of non-verbal, sensory motor expression within the analytic frame of treatment.

The IEA/Parkmore Affiliation

We at the Institute for Expressive Analysis have developed an affiliation with the Parkmore institute that will enable our students and members to pursue further training that can lead to a doctoral degree in Psychoanalytic Studies. This training is specifically designed to help expressive analysts publish their clinical work in highly recognized professional, psychoanalytic journals, creating a pathway to showcase their unique clinical process.

Until now, doctoral programs available for psychoanalysts have been mostly focused on academic research and less on innovation in clinical practice. This post graduate training will provide a structure that will help our students and members prepare for the presentation of their innovative clinical work on a high level of both clinical and academic excellence.

For more details of this Affiliation please visit:


Dr. Robert Irwin Wolf


The Institute for Expressive Analysis

New York City

Doctorate in Psychoanalytic Studies Now Available Through Affiliation Between The Institute for Expressive Analysis and The Parkmore Institute


For many years, psychoanalytic training has been undervalued within the field of psychology. When psychoanalysis first came to the United States, Freud wrote his now famous paper “On the Question of Lay Analysis” to help support his disciple, Theodor Reik, to establish the field of psychoanalysis in the USA as separate from the medical/psychiatric profession which, at that time, had attempted to absorb and monopolize it as part of its scope of psychiatric practice in the United States. After the field of psychiatry backed down, psychoanalytic training institutes began to form and attract people from outside the medical field. They included, as a central component of training, the personal training analysis of students along with extensive coursework, carefully supervised clinical practice and ‘control analyses’. Since academic institutions were not permitted to include personal analysis among their requirements, psychoanalytic training was limited to free standing psychoanalytic training institutes. Although these free-standing institutes provide clinically focused training that often requires more time to complete than more academically focused PhD programs in psychology require, most unfortunately can’t offer any formal academic degree, as a culmination of their training. Those very few that do, offer more academically-focused doctoral degrees that tend to focus mostly on research and not clinical work.

The Parkmore Institute was created to address this disparity. It offers high quality post graduate training for graduates of any independent psychoanalytic training institute, which leads to a clinically-focused doctoral degree in Psychoanalytic Studies, (Dpsa). Parkmore recognizes the depth of psychoanalytic institute training and has opened the way for graduates of institutes with more innovative, less traditionally focused theoretical approaches, to also achieve a doctoral degree. Their program focuses on addressing the gap between intensively focused clinical training and formal academic achievement by providing candidates an opportunity to prepare a final paper that is of sufficient quality to be published in an internationally acceptable, PEP-web recognized journal.

The Institute for Expressive Analysis is unique among more traditional psychoanalytic training institutes as it integrates elements of implicit, sensory motor and creative non-verbal forms of communication within the fabric of depth oriented psychoanalytic theory and practice. This focus is on the cutting edge of what we are now discovering in our latest neuropsychological research. As research identifies the connection between implicit memory and the unconscious, more emphasis will be placed on non-verbal, pre-verbal and sensory motor communication as vehicles to promote the expression and resolution of unconscious conflict within psychoanalytic treatment. Since its inception in the mid 1970s, these now, newly emphasized concepts, have been at the original core of IEA’s mission and basic theoretical foundation. We at IEA have always been dedicated to the promotion of this unique mission and have sought to strengthen our theoretical position and potential application within the contemporary analytic community. However, as creative people, we have often been better at being creative within our own clinical practice than within the area of psychoanalytic literature and publication.

IEA Affiliation with the Parkmore Institute

It is therefore with great pleasure, that I announce today that we at IEA have established a formal Affiliation Program with the Parkmore Institute in South Africa, Through this affiliation process, we are addressing this challenge by offering our students and members a pathway to develop their writing skills, to find and expand their unique voice within our analytic community and attain a high level of professional recognition by ultimately achieving a clinically based doctoral degree. This program will offer to our students an option to apply for affiliation with the Parkmore Institute during their final stage of training at IEA. If their application is approved by the IEA/Parkmore Application Assessment Committee, they can seamlessly transition to become students at PI, after graduating IEA, and will automatically have their Application Fee waived and become eligible, after an evaluation by the Director of the Parkmore Institute, for consideration to enter PI on an advanced level of training. If admitted on an advanced level, candidates could also benefit from the elimination of certain other tuition requirements at PI. We at IEA and our counterparts at PI have worked hard to enable this option for qualified students. We also are now able to offer our graduates and members the option of applying directly to PI, have their application fee waived, and be eligible for the same evaluation interview, by the Director of PI, for advanced standing in their training program. We hope that our effort in developing this affiliation will help IEA students, members and graduates find a new way to have a voice within our field and bring a new level of professional recognition to IEA, as well as to the field of psychoanalysis. More details of this Affiliation may be found on our website:

Dr. Robert Irwin Wolf, President

The Institute for Expressive Analysis

Current Psychosocial Phenomenon: A Psychoanalytic Perspective

As a psychoanalyst, I often try to understand psychosocial phenomena from a psychoanalytic perspective. For this brief overview, I will discuss the current state of our socio/political climate from a developmental viewpoint as well as from the perspective of current neuro-psychological research. I will attempt to shed some light on how we have reached our currently dysfunctional social and political climate; one in which there are great polarities in thinking and where racism, bigotry, hypocrisy and hatred seem to be openly promoted and endorsed by some politicians.

Developmental Theory: Early separation/individuation theory describes how early in life, a young child experiences ‘part-objects’: mother of gratification and mother of deprivation. When mother gratifies a need, she is experienced as 'Good Mother', and when she deprives or frustrates the child, she is experienced as 'Bad Mother'. Their early world consists of these two extremes and is split into objects that fit these two paradigms. Healing the split is accomplished when the child developmentally achieves ambivalence; the ability to experience these feelings at once, within one object. This developmental milestone enables the child to experience a wider range of feelings for others. Their ‘black and white’ world suddenly becomes filled with the richness of nuance. Distinction between self and object (other), comes later and leads to the capacity for empathy and compassion for others.

A note about Regression: Regression is an ego defense mechanism that seeks out earlier levels of function to avoid extreme anxiety. We regress to find an earlier level of functioning where we once felt more safe and secure. Some psycho-pathologies, such as the Borderline Personality Disorder, manifest a developmental arrest at this part object level which tends to cause a fixation at this point of object relationships, where they live in a world of primarily seeing their world through extreme distortions of idealization or devaluation. Even though we have all (hopefully more successfully) gone through these developmental stages, under extremely stressful situations, we can regress into seeing the world as, once again, polarized through this ‘black and white’ filtering perspective. 

Neurological Research: A second concept to be considered here derives from more contemporary neuropsychological research. We have learned that when faced with events that trigger overwhelming fear, our most primitive brain, corresponding to the amygdala, responds ½ second before the more evolved brain system, corresponding to the hippocampus, is able to process the same experience. This delay can have serious consequences. The latter brain system moderates archaic fight or flight impulses, bringing in objectivity and context, allowing us to digest data, leading to less impulsive and extreme reactions. If this slower, yet more evolved system is overwhelmed by the more primal system, we risk being at the mercy of our primitive, fight or flight impulses that don't allow room for more rational processing. The most common trigger of our more primitive brain is primal fear. We see this clearly in trauma victims. Once this fear response is triggered, the more rational part of the brain, has no time to place the fear into a context that can enable it to be modified or digested. This can lead to impulsive and irrational behavior.

The current proliferation of fascistic, charismatic political leaders who thrive on instilling fear, can mobilize this primitive part of our brain function, which in turn can cause an ego regression that leads to earlier levels of ego functioning. These, often sociopathic political leaders are masters at manipulating, instigating, promoting and using this potential ‘splitting’ among their constituents as a means to attain power and control. This type of catastrophic, fear driven rhetoric can mobilize primitive brain systems that then trigger splitting, along with a rigidly polarized view of the world that is unaffected by actual reality.

We then have a primitive, fear driving a mechanism that splits the world into two distinct groups. Us vs. them or our 'tribe' vs. 'other' tribe!

For example, previously marginalized groups such as Neo-Nazis or the KKK, along with other 'extremist' individuals who promote hatred, bigotry and violence, have been given new sense of support for their pathological views by these charismatic figures. But while these extremists are easy to point at as taking advantage of this political climate, we must also be introspective and examine our own reactions and perceptions to these events.

It is easy to point a finger and blame others, but we all may be functioning, to some degree within a system that distorts the nuances within our reality. When we surround ourselves with only like-minded people, we create a bubble that insulates us from being able to take in and integrate differing opinions, points of view and new ideas. Even among more highly evolved people, through this regressive process, it can begin to feel like it’s “us vs. them”. Our current political climate of extreme polarity, can lead to this kind of distortion and breakdown. Our political system was designed for dialogue between opposing viewpoints. When this dialog breaks down, we have a dysfunctional system.

So, if ‘splitting’ is so prominent within our culture, does it have some functional basis for our species, as a genetic component, and does it still serve some purpose as a survival mechanism or is it an archaic mechanism that is driving us towards destructive impulses? Is there some other more positive reason for it's prominence today, beyond simply being an early stage of object relations, that, under the proper circumstances, allows us to be universally triggered into regressive experiences that polarize and create 'warring' factions within our society?

500,000 years ago, one's ability to respond instantaneously to any threat was a significant and necessary genetic trait that enabled our ancestors to survive, thus creating a genetic pathway that has led to the evolution of modern man. We are all here today because our ancestors, (the ones who survived), were able to react instinctively and instantaneously to danger, without having to stop and think about it and we have inherited their genetic structures that ensured their survival. That 1/2 second quicker response to danger enabled you to be here right now, reading this article! But, as a species today, have we outgrown this once genetically adaptive neurological mechanism that originated for the survival of our species, but may now contribute to the kind of dysfunction we face today as a society?

As in any formal psychoanalysis, I offer you no definitive answers to these questions. I leave these questions for you to reflect upon and hopefully find your own authentic answers and insight. Introspection leads to personal growth.

Dr. Robert Irwin Wolf

January 2018

Reflections On A Challenging Career: Thanksgiving, 2017

As a young man, I was quite creative and chose Pratt Institute, School of Art and Design, for my undergraduate training. While there I was exposed to the field of psychology and returned to Pratt for my Masters in Art Therapy and Creativity Development. There I met Dr. Arthur Robbins who inspired me to continue my further training. I was looking for in-depth clinical training but, after sitting in on classes at two PhD programs in Clinical Psychology, I became convinced that the best preparation for private practice would be through a free standing, non-academic, psychoanalytic training institute. These Institutes required trainees to undergo their own personal analysis as part of their training. I believed this to be an essential step in preparation for private practice, which is what I wanted to train for. PhD training back then was about 4 years of academic work with some supervised clinical experience, and could not require students to undergo their own personal analysis as part of their training. I found this to be a serious deficiency. In classes that I observed, I found an atmosphere that was less introspective and more didactic. Psychoanalytic training, on the other hand, required 8 years of intensive coursework, personal analysis, clinical work with extensive supervision and 2 control analyses. These were intensive clinical experiences where the student would see one patient 3 times per week, for 50 weeks, and meet with a control analyst once a week to literally go over transcripts of each session. These control analyses had to be conducted consecutively, not concurrently, thus requiring a long period of training. However, after making my decision I discovered, at that time in the early 70’s, that finding an institute that would accept me with only a Masters in Art Therapy was another challenge. At that time, The Institute for Expressive Analysis did not exist. It was later founded by Dr. Arthur Robbins in the mid-70,s and would have been an excellent fit for me with my background in creative modalities, as it also promoted the use of expressive modalities within the psychoanalytic frame. So I needed to look elsewhere for my analytic training.

A bit of history: When psychoanalysis came to the USA in the late 1940’s, Theodor Reik, who was a psychologist and psychoanalyst trained by Freud, arrived in the USA and was met by opposition from the psychiatric medical establishment that wanted to create a monopoly on the practice of psychoanalysis in the US. Freud then decided to support Reik by writing his famous paper ‘On the Question of Lay Analysis’. There, he proposed that the best educational background for psychoanalysts was not the medical model of training, but rather a diverse background in creative fields. This opened the way for Reik to pioneer psychoanalysis in the US by founding the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis, which embraced Freud’s position and openly accepted people into training from non-medical fields. That was where I chose to do my 8 years of post-graduate training; back then, the equivalent of 2 doctoral degrees!

Unfortunately, while the training at The National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis, prepared me for clinical work, it was not an academic institution, and therefore did not lead to an academic degree. 

Fortunately, when an opportunity became available to join the graduate art therapy faculty at The College of New Rochelle in 1980, I was able to become a faculty member, on a tenured track with what was then, the terminal degree in the field of art therapy, the Master’s degree. This had placed me, over the years, in a unique position as I know of no one else who is a fully tenured professor, on the college graduate level, without a formal PhD!

Now, after over 40+ years of experience teaching and working clinically with private clients, I look back at my career, where I have made significant professional contributions to the fields of creative art therapy and psychoanalysis. I have published over 22 articles, 2 book chapters, 10+ book and video reviews and have had an opportunity to spend these years exploring creative ways to integrate expressive forms of communication within the psychoanalytic process. My experience teaching graduate students, has presented an opportunity to become a pioneer in the field of Phototherapy; the therapeutic uses of photography; as well as develop new ways to creatively explore dreams and a variety of other expressive modalities including stone carving, to access and explore unconscious material. Over these years, I have also made numerous professional presentations, both nationally and internationally, as a psychoanalyst, art therapist, fine art photographer and sculptor.

When Art Robbins decided to leave The Institute for Expressive Analysis, he asked me to take over as Director, which I did from 1995- 1997, and then again, 20 years later as President, where I remain today in that position. I have also been active professionally over these many years, having served as past president The New York Art Therapy Association, and I have served on the faculty of Pratt Institute, The National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis and The Institute for Expressive Analysis.

Finally, as of today, I am proud to be able to say that I have received professional recognition of my work by being awarded a clinical doctorate degree in Psychoanalytic Studies. This degree has been offered through the Parkmore Institute, in Capetown, South Africa. This unique degree program focuses on helping psychoanalysts to further develop and promote their clinical and academic work. It awards the degree, Doctorate of Psychoanalytic Studies for psychoanalysts who, like me, initially chose intensive clinical training through free standing, non-academic, psychoanalytic training institutes that did not lead to the awarding of any formal academic degree.

I am pleased to be the first person awarded this unique degree and I am proud to become a Fellow at Parkmore and become active in their effort to recognize those clinicians who had chosen this route of high quality in-depth training for clinical practice, and have been until now, unable to gain this type of recognition for their work. I strongly encourage other highly trained psychoanalysts in similar situations, to explore the Parkmore Institute as a possible way to gain the professional recognition that they deserve.

Dr. Robert Irwin Wolf

Doctor of Psychoanalytic Studies

Fellow, The Parkmore Institute

President, The Institute for Expressive Analysis

Professor, Graduate Art Therapy, The College of New Rochelle


Online Option for Expressive Therapy, Phototherapy and Creative Dream Processing and Supervision


We’ve come a long way since Lisa Kudrow made “Web Therapy” popular in a rather infamous way, creating a stigma that has taken time to overcome. Over my years of experience in private practice I have had opportunities to offer phone sessions for clients who had special need for ongoing contact while unable to come into my office. My first encounter with phone sessions happened many years ago when a patient who was in psychoanalysis had a sudden medical issue that required complete bed rest for several months. Although I was reluctant at first to use phone contact to complete the analysis, I was open to exploring its efficacy. My first impression was that my ability to listen was more focused when I had no visual contact with her. I found that I was able to pick up subtle nonverbal elements within our exchange that enabled me to work this way for several months. As a result, we were able to complete a successful analysis. Other examples have been from patients who travel for work. Continuity is important in analytic work so to keep the treatment sessions consistent, we would regularly schedule phone sessions while traveling, enabling patients to maintain their focus on their treatment.  

Perhaps we can better understand this phenomenon if we look at brain research that shows that when one sensory mode is denied, the brain is able to compensate and other modes of sensory input become stronger.

Today, with the opportunity to add visual content to remote communication, we have opened a new era of further possibilities for clinical treatment. Applications such as Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom, (and many others) are excellent resources for attaining both visual and auditory remote contact. I must admit that I’ve been reluctant to offer this to my patients since my training has been designed around being in the same space as my patients, enabling me to pick up and integrate into my treatment, all kinds of nonverbal ques. We often communicate more significant unconscious material through body language, than we do with words. Primary process, our first method of early experience, was nonverbal. We learn language at a later developmental time so much of the unconscious pre-verbal content of our communication; implicit memories, feelings and conflicts; are not as readily exposed to the same degree of censorship by the ego that verbal communication is filtered through, and therefore more easily expressed through nonverbal means of communication. I initially questioned whether adding video to the remote voice of a phone session would enable me to perceive subtle nonverbal elements as well as I might be able to do in person.

However, after much deliberation and consultation with colleagues who have begun to use online options for remote treatment, I have begun to appreciate how this form of treatment might bring opportunities for access to people unable to work face to face in an actual office setting. Several colleagues had become members of an organization where they offer ongoing psychoanalytic treatment over Skype, to patients in China. They have reported great interest on the part of potential participants as well as great success in the treatment of those who would not have otherwise been able to obtain psychoanalytic treatment. I have therefore become more open to the possibility of expanding my work within a remote treatment framework.

In a recently published article on how I integrate expressive art within the psychoanalytic treatment frame, (“A Mind’s Eye View: Processing Psychoanalytic Sessions with Artwork”, The Psychoanalytic Review, April. 2017), I demonstrate how the use of patient artwork can help deepen the analytic process and I have come to realize how this highly creative, unique method of clinical treatment may benefit many more potential clients if it becomes more widely available through remote access.

Over my many years of graduate level teaching, I have developed curriculum and coursework in the areas of creative processing of dreams and the therapeutic uses of photography. My many years of clinical supervision of both creative art therapists and psychoanalysts may also now be available remotely. I also now realize that by opening this remote access of treatment and supervision to a wider range of potential clients, I can offer these various forms of application including the opportunity for clients to process dreams using creative art and use photographic images in a less intensive therapeutic structure than depth oriented, ongoing psychoanalytic treatment. So, I am prepared to now offer these unique modalities online. I offer my services as a clinician, with many years of clinical work, teaching, training, supervising  and conducting research, and apply this experience with using visual images to understand unconscious process and help people learn more about themselves in these creative ways. Hopefully, by utilizing video conferencing and emailing artwork, I will be able to continue this format for use in various forms of long and short term expressive therapies, clinical supervision, creative consulting*, phototherapy and dream analysis, on an expanded scale.

Referrals and inquiries may be sent to:

* outside New York State



Important Presentation

I am pleased to announce that I will be presenting my paper: "A Mind's Eye View: Processing Psychoanalytic Treatment Through Artwork", originally published in The Psychoanalytic Review, Vol. 104, Number 2, April, 2017at the Eighth Annual International Conference on The Image, Venice International University, San Servolo, Venice, Italy, October 31- November 1, 2017. 

This will be an important opportunity for expanding the understanding of how visual images offer a unique resource for expressing and processing unconscious material and will further demonstrate the value of integrating visual imagery within psychotherapeutic applications. The bridge between creative art therapy, expressive therapy and expressive analysis will be carefully explained and documented with clinical material. It is my intention to bring this clarification and understanding of the importance of these creative processes to a larger professional community and further validate the unique contributions that expressive modalities may offer within ongoing clinical treatment.

For further details please visit:

Professor Robert Irwin Wolf,

Graduate Art Therapy Program

The College of New Rochelle


The Institute for Expressive Analysis

Phototherapy Training Session at the Expressive Therapy Summit in NYC

On Sunday, October 15, from 9:30 - 12:30 PM I will be leading a Phototherapy Training session at the Expressive Therapy Summit in NYC. In this 3-hour session we’ll explore the therapeutic uses of photography and photo processing for use by clinicians within a group treatment format. To solidify theory, workshop participants will be led through experiential exercises using their own photographic images. Through this process, they will learn how to uncover unconscious material in photographs that can lead to greater insights in treatment. Particularly popular with teens and younger clients, the use of digital photographic technology will also be demonstrated as it pertains to the processing of photographic images with client populations of varied ages and abilities. Three CE's (continuing education credits) can be obtained for LCATs for participation in this event.

As both an creative art therapist and psychoanalyst in private practice, and as an educator of graduate art therapy students, I have been developing and refining methods enabling me to integrate photographic media within psychotherapeutic treatment modalities. This session will demonstrate this integration.

Pease register in advance online at the link below to be properly prepared for this event:

Travel Photography Contest Winner

I am honored to have my photograph chosen as a winner in a travel photography contest sponsored by The Blank Wall Gallery in Athens, Greece. The photo below will be on display during the month of September and also online on their website.

This photograph, "Contemplation", was taken on a secluded mount top in Sapa, Vietnam. After hiking for hours up this mountain, passing through several orchid farms, I came upon these two women deep in peaceful contemplation in this magical setting.

The online link to all of the photos that have been selected for this exhibition are now available for viewing at:

The actual show with prints will be on display at the Blank Wall Gallery, Athens Greece, from late September through mid October.




A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Hatred and Bigotry


In response to the violence in Virginia over this past weekend, when a neo-Nazi fanatic violently plowed his vehicle into a crowd of protesters, killing one woman and wounding 19 others, I would like to offer a brief response, to help understand group hatred from a psychoanalytic perspective, and hopefully offer a way to help promote more social tolerance.


Much has been written on how the dynamics of groups can bring out and encourage the most primitive and violent aspects of human nature and ‘normalize’ this behavior. But I’d like to take a moment to focus on the individual psychodynamics, from a psychoanalytic perspective, that lead individuals to seek out hate groups to find support through unity and justify the violent expression of their rage and bigotry.


Freud’s described psychoanalysis as “the search for truth”. What he meant was that, as psychoanalysts, our task is to help people become more aware of their split off, unconscious memories and experiences that, without conscious awareness, inform their desires, motivations and behaviors. This search for ‘truth’ requires time and dedication; elements that are unfortunately often lacking in our society today that typically seeks quick ‘cures’ and immediate relief from any unpleasant feeling.


Hatred and bigotry are often the result of several unconscious defense mechanisms that blend seamlessly; disconnection by compartmentalization, reaction formation (the turning of one's feeling that is unacceptable into its more acceptable polar opposite), denial and, of course, repression of all these processes. Deep insecurity and self-hatred, which are ego dystonic, can easily be externalized and projected onto others as a way to feel better, (superior) about oneself. An unconscious (and unacceptable) ‘wish’ or impulse can be split off and transformed into a conscious fear and fuel the hatred of the repressed component of this dynamic. If the conflict is strong enough it can be intensified through a group process and acted out as violent hatred, as we unfortunately have seen played out in Virginia.


Here we may also see another unconscious dynamic in action. We are all genetically engineered, as a survival instinct for the human species, to become part of a group (or more primitively a tribe). Man needed to learn to hunt in groups in order to survive and those without this important genetic disposition inevitably died out leaving, this need to be part of a group, as the dominant genetic dynamic within all of us alive today. This group identity can become exploited by individuals who charismatically bring together like-minded individuals and incite an “us against them” mentality. We see this pattern in politics today and in history, played out over and over. 


But what if these unconscious processes were made more conscious and therefore less likely to be acted out? If more people began to explore their unconscious and become aware of the origins of their motivations and behaviors, they would be less susceptible to the manipulative influence of others.


Expressive analysis is not only about ‘symptom reduction’. It focuses on a more complete restructuring process that promotes healthy expression of authentic feelings that are not influenced by defense mechanisms or unconscious conflict. As we help our clients seek their own unique inner ‘truth’, as difficult as that may initially be, the result is a more tolerant, integrated, independently thoughtful individual capable of deep personal insight, introspection, and healthy interpersonal relationships. As an expressive analyst, I believe that our work is helping to make the world better in this way. It is important to remember this when we are faced with the type of tragedy that we have witnesses this past weekend.


Professor Robert Irwin Wolf, President

The Institute for Expressive Analysis

August 15, 2017

Re-Elected as President of the Institute for Expressive Analysis

I am please to announce that I have been re-elected as President of the Institute for Expressive Analysis for a second three year term.

The institute is guided by it's mission to integrate creative, expressive modalities into depth oriented psychoanalytic treatment. It is a NY State Accredited psychoanalytic training institute that also sponsors a community based clinic offering high quality, low fee, psychoanalytic treatment.

As a college professor, practicing artist, licensed psychoanalyst and licensed creative art therapist in private practice, I intend to continue to offer my years of experience integrating these processes, as a spokesperson who can promote the uniqueness of the Institute, both within the professional community and within public venues.