Life-sized self-portraits created by New York City public school students from the NYU Steinhardt Art Therapy in Schools programs will go on display at the NYU Kimmel Center, November 11-January 2. The exhibit, entitled Standing Tall: Celebrating Resiliency in the NYU Art Therapy in Schools Program, showcases 80 portraits by students ages 6 – 17 who have benefitted from the Art Therapy in Schools Program over the past year.

Steinhardt Art Therapy Exhibit Opens Nov. 11
The artwork of NYC public school children enrolled in the NYU Steinhardt Art Therapy in Schools Program will be on display at the Kimmel Center from November 11-January 2.

The aim of exhibit, which will begin with an opening reception on Monday, November 11 from 5-7 p.m., is to raise awareness for the important role art therapy plays in helping students with emotional, behavioral, and learning issues to succeed and thrive in the classroom.

“Research from around the world – including a longitudinal study conducted by the Steinhardt program - clearly indicates that at risk students of all ages who have participated in art therapy show marked reductions in oppositional behavior, increased concentration and impulse control, and enhanced academic performance,” said Marygrace Berberian, director of the NYU Art Therapy in Schools Program at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

“Unfortunately, limited funding has meant that there are far more students out there in need of therapy than there are resources to provide it to them, which ultimately has deleterious effects not only on individual students, but entire classrooms and schools,” Berberian added. “Support from NYU Steinhardt and private donors have made it possible for us to continue our commitment to these schools and these students – and the results have been phenomenal.”

Pioneered in the 1940s, art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art, media, images, and the creative process to help generate reflections of an individual’s development, abilities, personality, interests, concerns, and conflicts. The NYU Art Therapy in Schools program at Steinhardt, which began in 1997, trains therapists based on knowledge of human development and psychological theories, which are then implemented in the assessment and treatment of children dealing with emotional conflicts and learning disabilities.

In 2002, in response to the 9/11 crises, the NYU model program was adopted by the NYC Board of Education and implemented in eight schools around the city. When these programs came under threat of budget cuts, private donors funded programs at PS 124 in Chinatown, PS 6 on the Upper East Side, and Millennium High School in Lower Manhattan.

“What makes art therapy so effective is that it addresses trauma that can often not be treated through left-brain, language-based therapeutic practices. Art therapy stimulates the right brain, connecting to symbols, images, and perceptions that speak to us from the unconscious, and which can release emotions and offer greater emotional regulation,” said Berberian. “These images serve to instruct students and their family members and educators about the ways art can activate resiliency.”

Art Therapy – Research Results
Extensive data on the positive impact of art therapy in schools for students with physical, learning, behavioral and emotional difficulties include the following findings:

• NYU longitudinal study (in press) showed elementary school report card data collected pre and post treatment showed improvement in both student effort and academic results.
• Incorporating art therapy into academic intervention for children with learning disabilities showed a decrease in troubling thoughts, psychosomatic symptoms, aggression and delinquency (Freilich & Shechtman, 2010);
• At-risk eighth grade students displayed heightened coping skills and a decrease in disruptive behaviors as a result of art therapy services (Spier, 2010);
• “Problem behaviors,” such as acting out, poor concentration and defiance were reduced “significantly” after art therapy treatment (Saunders and Saunders, 2000).

The opening reception for Standing Tall: Celebrating Resiliency in the NYU Art Therapy in Schools Program on November 11 will feature accounts from educators and students about the impact art therapy has had on students, classrooms, families and entire institutions. Speakers include students and teachers in the program as well as participating parents.

Press are invited to attend the opening reception. Contact Shonna Keogan at or at 212-998-6796 to RSVP. The NYU Kimmel Center is located at 60 Washignton Square S., between LaGuardia and Thompson streets. Reception will be held on the 8th floor. For more information about NYU Steinhardt Art Therapy in Schools, visit or send an email to

About the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development prepares students for careers in the arts, education, health, media, and psychology. Since its founding in 1890, the Steinhardt School's mission has been to expand human capacity through public service, global collaboration, research, scholarship, and practice. To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit:

Steinhardt Art Therapy in Schools

Press Contact

Shonna Keogan
Shonna Keogan
(212) 998-6796