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BATA Pre-Conference

The Strength of the Creative Spirit 

Thursday November 7th 2024 


Elizabeth Hlavek, DAT, ATR-BC, LCPAT

Elizabeth Hlavek is a clinician, scholar, and art therapy advocate. She has worked in private practice since 2012 specializing in the treatment of eating disorders. Elizabeth spearheaded efforts to develop a clinical art therapy license in her home state of Maryland, and subsequently sat on the MD Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists, and later the AATA Board of Directors.

In 2019 Elizabeth completed her doctorate in art therapy. Her research examined artwork made by victims in Nazi captivity which she grounded to existential theory. Her book, A Meaning-Based Approach to Art Therapy: From the Holocaust to Contemporary Practices, details her phenomenological study in which she interviewed surviving artists about their experiences creating artwork. She posited that art-making allowed victims to find meaning in their experience, a concept that informs her clinical work. In addition to frequently lecturing about her research, Elizabeth teaches with the International Institute for Existential Humanistic Psychology.  

Approximately 30,000 works of art have been documented since the liberation of Nazi camps and ghettos in 1945 (Amishai-Maisels, 1993). Made in captivity, these pieces of art exemplify the power of creativity and the strength of spirit, and demonstrate the human capacity for resiliency and creativity in the face of suffering. This body of work highlights the innately human need for meaning and creativity, and can inform contemporary art therapy practice. Understanding Holocaust artists’ drive to create art may help art therapists to better address the fundamental concerns of existence that clients face. After all, in drawing, painting, sculpting, and collaging, Holocaust artists gave a form to unimaginable experiences.

This workshop will begin with an exploration of the art of the Holocaust as a phenomenon. The speaker will share images of the artwork and discuss how, but more importantly, why, this art was made. The speaker will share vignettes from her phenomenological interviews with surviving artists and curators of this work. Participants will be invited to make response art using both traditional and found materials.

In the afternoon, the speaker will ground this body of work to existential theory and discuss how the art aligns with Irving Yalom’s four existential concerns (1980): death, isolation, freedom, and meaninglessness. Participants will create their own artwork in relation to one or more of these existential concerns.


1. Participants will be able to identify three ways in which the art of the Holocaust can inform contemporary practice.

2. Participants will be able to identify three motivations for creating artwork in captivity.

3. Participants will be able to articulate Yalom’s four existential concerns. 

This full day pre-conference course will complement the keynote address to be given the following day. It can also be experienced as a stand – alone opportunity.

**Ohio Counseling and Social Work CEUs**

7 hrs

Registration costs for Pre-Conference Course:

$125.00 - Professional

$75 Student

BATA MEMBER discount price:

$100.00 - Professional

$50- Student

(This event is in addition to the symposium, and requires a separate registration/fee payment) 

LIMITED SEATING!!!!  Registration opening soon!

Buckeye Art Therapy Association

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