Kathleen G. Collis Art Therapy Scholarship

Kay is a pioneer of the use of art therapy in the treatment of mental illness. Through this award, it is hoped that this work continues. Kay combined her love of art with a phenomenological approach. She worked with people with multiple personality disorder and people with schizophrenia utilizing the powerful tools of bioenergetic analysis and Reichian therapy among others. Throughout her career, Kay has had a profound influence on the development and practice of the therapeutic use of the arts.

Kay was the only Canadian invited to attend the founding of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), becoming an Honorary Life Member in 1988. She was a founding member of the British Columbia Art Therapy Association (BCATA), becoming an Honorary Life Member in 1995. Kay founded the BC School of Art Therapy (1980-2013) for postgraduate training of art therapists in Victoria. She coordinated art therapy programs for the mentally ill in the Capital Regional District through the Victoria Mental Health Centre, and coordinated an art therapy program for the University of Western Ontario. In 1981, Kay was listed in the "World's Who's Who of Women," and in 2006, she received the YWCA "WOMAN OF DISTINCTION AWARD for Lifetime Achievement" for pioneering art therapy in BC and across Canada.

Kay was born in Regina, SK. Her family moved to Victoria where she attended Victoria High School. She then travelled extensively across Canada, lived in England for a time and explored Europe before returning to Victoria. She found herself a single parent of two small children when she chose to advance her education. Kay is a proud alumna of the University of Victoria with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1970 (visual arts and psychology). She earned a Master of Arts degree from Goddard College in 1980 (thesis topic: Schizophrenia and Alr: A Synthesis of Theoretical and Visual Perspectives), and a PhD from Saybrook University in 1995 (dissertation title: An Exploratory Study Towards the Development of a Picture Rating Scale for Schizophrenia).

In 1969 Kay Collis, then a student of art and psychology at the University of Victoria, was invited to develop an art program at the Victoria Mental Health Centre for people with major mental illnesses. In that year she was also invited to the Menninger Clinic by Robert Ault and to the founding meeting of the American Alt Therapy Association. While continuing to work in Victoria under the British Columbia Ministry of Health, Kay established an art therapy department at the Victoria Mental Health Centre and began to receive many requests for training from people in the local community. During this time it was becoming quite apparent that the need existed for a professional association. To meet this need, in 1978 the British Columbia Art Therapy Association was founded. In 1982 the Victoria Institute of Art Therapy Association was formed to provide trained art therapists.

By 1985 the Institute's school had become a formal full-time prograin and was officially established as the British Columbia School of Art Therapy (BCSAT). In 1993, the non­profit society which governs BCSAT was renamed the Centre for Human Science Research and Its Relation to Human Science Association. The BCSAT established this award in honour of Dr. Collis as it wrapped up its operations in 2017.

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