Shaun McNiff

Professor Emeritus, Expressive Therapies

Shaun McNiff speaks about his career in expressive therapies

In 1973, Dr. Shaun McNiff taught the first art therapy courses at Lesley and in 1974 established the Expressive Therapies and Integrated Arts in Education graduate programs. In 1995, he left Lesley University to serve as Provost and Dean of Endicott College and returned in 2002 as the first university professor.

He served as President of the American Art Therapy Association and Chair of the Public Education Nominating Council, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and is Co-Editor in Chief of the journal Creative Arts Education and Therapy: Eastern and Western Perspectives, Beijing, China.

Shaun's honors and awards include:

  • Citations from the House of Representatives and Senate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for founding Expressive Arts Therapy (2009)
  • Honorary Life Member Award of the American Art Therapy Association (1997)
  • Certificate of Accomplishment Citation, Lesley College (1988)
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Mount Mary College (1993)

As Shaun says, “Every student and professor is shaped by their experiences, and one of the things I admire most about Lesley is that since its founding over 100 years ago the university strives to provide, and encourage students to seek, the broadest experiences possible from multiple internships and field-based learning. Experiential learning gives each of us our unique voice and vision, and the more experiences our graduates have, the more confident they become.”


Books include:

Imagination in Action (2015)
Art as Research (2013)
Integrating the Arts in Therapy: History, Theory, and Practice (2009)
Art Heals: How Creativity Cures the Soul (2004)
Creating with Others: The Practice of Imagination in Art, Life and the Workplace (2003)
Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go (1998)
Art-Based Research (1998)
Earth Angels: Engaging the Sacred in Everyday Things (1995)
Art as Medicine: Creating a Therapy of the Imagination (1992)
Depth Psychology of Art (1989)
Fundamentals of Art Therapy (1988)
Educating the Creative Arts Therapist: A Profile of the Profession (1986)
The Arts and Psychotherapy (1981)

More than 60 of Shaun's chapters and forewords have been published in books and more than 150 of his essays and reviews have been published in journals and magazines. Books have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and essays into Russian, German, Dutch, and other languages.

Shaun has given hundreds of lectures and keynotes throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand at universities, professional meetings, and public gatherings.

Since the early 1970s, Shaun has exhibited paintings at the Addison Gallery of American Art, The Winfisky Gallery at Salem State College, The Longwood Gallery at The Massachusetts College of Art, the Joseloff Gallery at the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, Endicott College, the Jane Deering Gallery, Flatrocks Gallery, The Roberts Gallery-Lunder Arts Center, and other universities and galleries.


PhD, Psychology of Art, Union Institute
MA, Psychology, Goddard College
AB., History, Fordham College

Member of the Art Students League of New York, painted with Theodoros Stamos.