Elizabeth Adda Robinson Ratcliffe
1975: MS in Counseling Psychology and Beyond...

After receiving her MA in Byzantine Medieval Art History, Elizabeth moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area from Eugene, Oregon and began studying at California State Hayward where she received a Masters of Science in Counseling on August 29, 1975. Her thesis, approved on May 23rd of that year, was titled, “The Old Masters Art Collage As An Instrument of Learning About Oneself.” A draft copy of Chapter 1 provides a smaller file to begin with. Papers from her time at Cal State Hayward include:


In 1977, Elizabeth crafted a synthesized form of her Masters thesis that was published as “The Old Masters Art Collage: An Art Therapy Technique For Heuristic Self-Discovery” in Art Psychotherapy, Vol. 4, pp. 29-32. Pergamon Press.

As she described in the Art Psychotherapy article, the process consisted of the following steps:

Approximately 2000 postcard reproductions of Old Masters art are spread face up on the floor. Instructions given to the group participating are in four sequential steps, each set of instructions being presented following group completion of the previous set.
  1. “Select about 20 cards to which you have a strong response—both negative and positive. Your only criteria for choosing any card should be that you feel strongly attracted by it or strongly repelled by it.”
  2. “Divide into groups of three or four, and spread out around the floor.”
  3. “Think about each card you have chosen, and try to discover why you were drawn to it. What in you was identifying with it? Arrange all your cards on the floor in front of you in a sort of meaningful collage representing your self. Cards which seem related should be so placed.”
  4. “Taking turns, verbally describe to each other your Collage of Self. Be as honest and open as you can. Each of you is free to ask questions of the other members of your group.”
Old Masters Art Collage Workshop Flyer

In the ensuing years, Elizabeth offered workshops using the Old Masters Art Collage as a vehicle to learn about one’s self.

Elizabeth continued building upon this foundation of Art History and psychotherapy in her evoling professional life as a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist. One of her projects was working in a team producing workshops on Pompeii’s Villa of Mysteries and how Pompeian women 2,000+ years ago can teach contemporary women about life passages. A one-page writeup by Elizabeth provides more context:

Pompeii’s Villa of Mysteries: Does This 1st Century B.C. Record of
Women’s Secret Rituals Have Value For Women of Our Time?
In earlier times human beings created rituals to mark important life transitions. Their purpose was to provide continuity as well as separation between different stages of the life cycle, and to emblazon mysterious inner meaning on the person experiencing the change.
Because of their nature many rituals were secret so that today we have little real knowledge of what actually took place.
Pompeii's Villa of Mysteries: Women's Rituals and Our Times From the nearly intact 2000+ year-old murals uncovered in the Villa of Mysteries at Pompeii, we have a unique record of Roman women involved in sequential ritual scenes. There is no information telling us their meaning, but from their various disciplines archaeologists, art historians, classicists and Jungian scholars have speculated about what takes place in the scenes. Although differing in details, these scholars agree that the Roman women depicted were in, many ways similar to contemporary independent women, for in both eras women were free to choose fulfillment through career rather than through husband and children.
For Roman women who chose to give up the feminine biological possibilities of family relationships, it would have been appropriate that rituals (possibly modified from Greek Elusinian mysteries) would have been created to mark the inner change of feminine identity.
This slide lecture will discuss the murals from the historical and psychological perspective provided by two Jungian psychotherapists: Katherine Bradway and Nor Hall. Also, I as an art historian as well as a psychotherapist, will include comments from the art historical point of view.