Miri Livnat Retires as Director of Expressive Therapies Field Work After 42 Years of Service

At a retirement party, Miri Livnat, beloved by generations of expressive therapy faculty, staff and students described how she began her work in the profession 42 years ago. She recalled being told by close friends that “Scholars and therapists from abroad have brought a new profession to Israel. We don’t know much about it but it involves acting and crying and sitting on the floor. We think you’ll love it.”
Livnat did love the field of expressive therapies and psychodrama in particular and made it her professional focus for nearly half a century. She described how the first courses were taught in a trailer parked on the grounds of the Ramat Aviv hotel under the auspices of the Arts Institute Project in Israel, founded largely by faculty of Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, USA. With time, the courses moved to a floor of the hotel and then to a building in South Netanya. The program became an official extension of Lesley University and later a part of an Israeli institution of higher education, The Academic College of Society and the Arts (ASA). Starting in 2018, ASA began its merger with Ono Academic College, which today continues the tradition, offering programs in Visual Art Therapy, Dance and Movement Therapy, Psychodrama, Dramatherapy and soon to be Music Therapy.
Livnat explained how for many years, arts therapists were pushed away by the existent therapeutic communities in Israel but that this rejection just inspired her and other expressive therapy pioneers to build new theories and develop innovative approaches. She thanked all the people and the institutions for providing her with a home and feelings of belonging and support for over four decades. Livnat concluded by noting that this place will always be her home.
Other staff and faculty members shared memories and expressed gratitude for all that Miri has given us over so many years. Livnat promised to keep in touch and hinted that at a later date she might be persuaded to perform some of the stand-up comedy material about teaching here that she has developed over the last 40 plus years. We will all miss Miri and are grateful for her immeasurable contribution.