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

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

New Article published in The Psychoanalytic Review

A MIND’S EYE VIEW: Processing Psychoanalytic Treatment Through Artwork, 

by Professor Robert Irwin Wolf

While visual images have often been used in clinical assessments and diagnosis, this paper will explore how we may now utilize their unique capabilities to communicate unconscious, primary process material, to monitor and enhance ongoing long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy within the framework of expressive analysis. This paper presents several clinical vignettes that illustrate this monitoring process and demonstrates how the clinical work can be deepened with the exposure and integration of creative images as the patient and analyst process these visual metaphors within the expressive analytic session. A variety of sensory motor systems and perceptions are monitored and explored. These examples will follow the expressive analytic model, clearly focusing on transference and resistance, while also bringing in more contemporary life issues through visual metaphors

This paper is particularly important as it demonstrates how expressive art and 'implicit', nonverbal elements of sensory motor communication, can be used to receive and understand material that deepens the ongoing psychoanalytic process, providing a theoretical bridge between expressive art therapy and expressive analysis.

A full copy can be found under 'Professional Vitae/Publications'