- Adrian Keith Graham Hill is held by many as the founder of art therapy.
Hill’s 1945 book Art Versus Illness documents the birth of the field.
- Margaret Naumburg was an American psychologist, educator, artist, author and among the first major theoreticians of art therapy.
She named her approach dynamically oriented art therapy.
- Edith Kramer was an Austrian social realist painter, a follower of psychoanalytic theory and an art therapy pioneer.
- Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for evaluating and treating pathologies seen as originating from conflicts in the psyche, through dialogue between patient and psychoanalyst, and the distinctive theory of mind and human agency derived from it.
Freud influenced art through his exploration of the psyche. Specifically, the Surrealist art movement sought to push against the boundaries of the rational mind by tapping into the subconscious mind, similar to the way Freud sought to accomplish in therapy with his patients.Psychoanalytic art therapists agree on the importance of the patient's internal world, especially its representation in what Sigmund Freud called “transference”.
- Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology.
Jung proposed that art can be used to alleviate or contain feelings of trauma, fear, or anxiety and also to repair, restore and heal. In his work with patients and his own personal explorations, Jung wrote that art expression and images found in dreams could help recover from trauma and emotional distress. At times of emotional distress, he often drew, painted, or made objects and constructions which he recognized as more than recreational.
As one of the pioneers of psychology and psychoanalysis, Carl Jung, drew Mandalas for personal growth and used them with his patients to help them move toward wholeness.