Personal profile


Hayley Berman is an art psychotherapist, artist and social entrepreneur. Her longstanding research interest seeks to inform and develop methodologies that assist in creating long -term psychosocial change.  Her thinking is informed by psychoanalytic theory as applied to practice. Hayley’s writing, image making and practice reflect an embodied manifestation of her approach. Essential aspects of her work include the facilitation and replication of safe spaces; the presence of an ethical empathic other; art materials within a holding space – all within an applied psychoanalytic frame. This work takes place in private practice with individuals - curious about their internal worlds - and in large groups as a process of creatively deepening internal and social group dynamics. This group work has been implemented within research, training, organizational, governmental and NPO contexts. Methodologies include social dreaming matrices and role analysis sets utilizing analytic group art psychotherapy.


Hayley’s inherent belief is in not privileging image over word nor word over image within her practice as artist and art psychotherapist. Her artwork inhabits the realm of materiality as a relational experience. The way different found and manufactured materials mix with one another, when chemicals meet a projection of an image and light, when turpentine meets oil or water, when words and water meet paper. Just as within the therapeutic space with a client, or groups of people, this relational dance invites the capacity to stay with the unpredictability of material and the unresolved and unfinished nature of the relational dynamic. This space of the ‘unknown’, potential space is what she has offered as a training model in increasing access to mental health services in South Africa (the country of her birth and majority of her life).


Hayley has exhibited her work collaboratively in contexts including the Johannesburg Art Gallery (2012) ‘After the Fire’ , Museum Africa , Constitutional Hill; Children’s Memorial Institute (2005-2015) together with artists, students and beneficiaries.  Her solo exhibitions include;  ‘Memory and Desire) (2012) Opening of Psychoanalytic Conference; Ububele( African Psychotherapy Centre) and “ Between Image and Text’ (2015) Solms Delta Franschoek - International Psychoanalytic Conference. She has published a series of books through Lefika Publications , ‘Body of Knowledge’ (2016) making her PhD research accessible as a training resource and art object.  She has authored and co-authored several chapters and articles dedicated to broadening the psycho-social ambit of Art Psychotherapy and its  application in areas of trauma and social justice.


Hayley started a Non- Profit Organisation: Lefika La Phodiso in Johannesburg (  She remains an active Board member and is exploring collaborative opportunities with UH. It continues to address the deficit in mental health services and the extraordinarily high levels of trauma due to the complexity of colonialism, apartheid, implicit hierarchical social and economic privilege, poverty, unemployment and violent crime. She is a member of the South African Psychoanalytic Confederation and the Institute of Psychoanalytic Child Psychotherapy. Her work has been applied in informal NPO’s and charities, within Government structures, schools and community centres. She has trained over 200 students as Community Art Counsellors.


Currently her role is Programme Leader for the MA in Art Therapy at Hertfordshire University.  


Education/Academic qualification

Psychosocial Studies, PhD, Community Art Counselling: Liberating the life force in a traumatised South Africa, University of The West of England, Bristol

20 Sept 20063 Jun 2011

Award Date: 15 Jun 2012

External positions

Director , Lefika La Phodiso

Jan 1994 → …


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