About Vati

History of VATI

  • The Vancouver Art Therapy Institute was originally founded on the principles and teachings of Toronto psychiatrist, Dr. Martin A. Fischer.
  • Fischer (1914 – 1992) first used art therapy in the 1940s when he was working with adults who had psychiatric challenges and subsequently ran art therapy groups for the same client population. VATI was established in 1982 as a non-profit society and charitable organization.
  • Art therapy has proliferated and expanded beyond its early psychoanalytic roots, as art therapists have increased the number of theoretical lenses through which they perceive the practice of art therapy. VATI instructors are interested in offering our students the opportunity to explore art therapy from a broad perspective; this includes how art therapy evolved in tandem with the major orientations in psychology and psychotherapy, current trends in art therapy including postmodern thinking in relation to art therapy (i.e., narrative therapy, constructionism, etc.) as well as the emergence of a theory that is indigenous to the arts.
  • The first 20 years after inception focused on the development of the fulltime program, gaining recognition in the community at large. The student practicum placements and resulting work of the graduates have contributed to the growing reputation of the institute as well at art therapy as a unique form of treatment. As a result, a job market for art therapists continues to grow, as art therapists are making inroads with a broad range of client populations and within various clinical and community-based settings.
  • In May 1998, the institute was among the first private educational institutions in British Columbia to receive Accreditation from the Private Career Training Institutions Agency of British Columbia.
  • In 2001, the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute (VATI) entered into a collaborative relationship with Athabasca University, with VATI providing the Art Therapy specialization for the MC:AT designation. The first cohort of the MC:AT program started in January 2003. It is a three-year program, in which students complete the Master’s of Counselling component through the Graduate Centre for Applied Psychology (GCAP) within the first two years; during the third year, students complete the art therapy specialization through GCAP and through the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute. This program is offered in a distance learning format as well as summer institutes.
  • In July 2002 the first cohort of the Advanced Diploma program was initiated. This is a distance learning program for people who have a Master’s degree; they include social workers, counsellors, therapists, school counsellors, educators, and practicing artists. Many of the students come to incorporate art therapy into their current practice thereby infusing something new and powerful; others come in order to make a career change and in the process, find themselves changed through their active engagement with the arts.
  • In May 2010, VATI moved to our lovely new location on Granville Island.

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