Obituary: Wita Szulc

Wita Szulc was one of the pioneers of art therapy in Poland. She was the creator of the concept of “Culture-Based Arttherapy”, or “Culturotherapy”, including a unique classification of 13 fields of therapy involving art (1988/1994). She specialised in bibliotherapy and Mixed Arts Therapies, as well as research into the history and methodology of art therapy. Trained as a classical philologist (MA), cultural expert (Ph.D. hum.), pedagogue (Ph.D.), certified librarian (state exam), certified family counselor (Family Development Association), andragogist and certified cultural and educational worker (postgraduate studies).
Immediately after graduation, in the second half of the 1960s, she worked as a manager of a day care centre and library in an industrial plant on the outskirts of Poznan. She used her experiences from this period of her life as the subject of her doctoral dissertation entitled “Model of cultural needs in social policy”, defended at Wrocław University in 1977 and published in book form in 2008.

She gained clinical and teaching experience as an assistant professor at the Karol Marcinkowski Medical University in Poznan, where she applied culture therapy, bibliotherapy and music therapy in the clinical hospitals of the Medical University in the departments of Medical Intensive Care, Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and Neurology of the Developmental Age. “Culturotherapy” and “Art in Medicine” for students of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Faculty of Medicine (1980 – 2003).As a professor at the University of A. Mickiewicza in Poznań, she initiated at the Faculty of Pedagogy and Arts of the A. Mickiewicz University in Kalisz the first in Poland undergraduate (1996) and postgraduate “Arttherapy” studies (2000) combining early childhood education with art therapy. As a professor of the University of Wrocław she continued her scientific and didactic activity in the field of art therapy, conducting, among others, doctoral studies ending with the promotion of four doctors of humanities on the basis of dissertations devoted to: theatre therapy for people with impaired intellectual capacity (dr A. Stefańska), music therapy for people with impaired intellectual capacity (dr A. Stefańska), music therapy for people with impaired intellectual capacity (dr A. Stefańska). Stefańska), music therapy for aggressive children (dr Diana Gulińska – Grzeluszka), art therapy for shy children (dr J. Gladyszewska-Cylulko) and art therapy in integration classes (dr M. Gutowski).
She also conducted regular classes in art therapy, according to her own programmes, at pre-graduate and post-graduate courses at various other universities in Poland, e.g. in Lublin, Gniezno, Lubin, Sosnowiec and Legnica. At the invitation of foreign universities she gave guest lectures at the Conservatory in Lvov, Tor Vergata University in Rome, Pedagogical Universities in Vilnius (Lithuania) Zhytomyr (Ukraine), and Liepāja University (Latvia). Within the framework of the “Erasmus” programme she taught twice at the “Cukurova University” in Adana (Turkey). Within the international project “Musa” (Art in Children’s Hospitals) she was an expert from the Polish side and presented the results of her own research at the project-ending conference in Ancona (Italy, 2016). She presented papers or posters at dozens of national and international scientific conferences.In Kalisz she co-founded and was the first president of the Association of Polish Art Therapists “Kajros”. Between 1998 and 2012 she represented Poland in the European Music Therapy Committee EMTC.She was a member of the editorial team of the Nordic Journal of Music Therapy and the President of the Scientific Council of the “Bibliotherapeutic Review”. After Poland’s accession to the European Union she worked with ECArte (European Consortium for Arts Therapies Education) as a Regional and then Global Representative of this organisation. Thanks to her efforts the University of Wrocław was accepted to the elite group of ECArte members in 2007 and in 2020 the University of Zielona Góra, where she was a professor.

The EMTC thinks back with pleasure and thankfulness to the time  that Wita represented Poland as the Country Representative for the EMTC. Her warmth and engagement for the profession will be missed greatly. Our thoughts are with her family during this difficult time.