Vivien Speiser is the Co-Director and Professor Emerita of the Institute for Arts and Health in The Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences, Lesley University. She is also a Distinguished Research Associate in the Drama for Life Program at the University of the Witwatersrand. She is a licensed mental health counselor, a dance therapist and an expressive arts therapist and educator. Her work has allowed her unparalleled access to working with groups across the United States, Israel and internationally.
She has used the arts as a way of communicating across borders and across cultures and believes in the power of the arts to create the conditions for personal and social change and transformation. As former founder and director of the Arts Institute Project in Israel, she has been influential in the development of Expressive Arts Therapy in that country. Her current interests are in working with communities under duress, trauma through the arts, and cross-cultural conflict transformation. She is a co-editor of The Arts, Education and Social Change: Little Signs of Hope, published by Peter Lang.
Dr Speiser has taught throughout the world and believes in the use of the arts as a way of communicating across borders and across cultures. She believes in the power of the arts to create the conditions for personal and social change and transformation. Her interests and expertise lie in the areas of working with communities under duress through an integrated arts approach. Many of her publications are grounded in her work with trauma and cross-cultural conflict resolution through the arts. In addition, she is an expert in the creation and performance of ‘rites of passage rituals’ and in the use of performance in expressive therapy practice.
Her contributions to the field have made her an international leader in dance and expressive therapy, and most recently earned her Fulbright Scholar Awards in 2020 and 2023 as well as a lifetime achievement award from the Journal of Applied Arts and Health in 2019. Other awards include the 2014 Distinguished Fellows Award from the Global Alliance for Arts and Health and a 2015 Honorary Fellow Lifetime Achievement award from the Israeli Expressive and Creative Arts Therapy Association (ICET).
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