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Paolo J. Knill - Biography

Paolo J. Knill, Ph.D., Dr. h.c., is Provost of the European Graduate School and Professor Emeritus at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Paolo J. Knill is a Swiss Scientist, artist, therapist, educator and musician. He was born on July 11, 1932 in Switzerland and is from Appenzell. Paolo has a diploma from ETH Zurich and worked at MIT as a research fellow in Aero Space Science. Paolo J. Knill is an internationally recognized leader and founder of Expressive Arts. Paolo Knill founded the International Network of Expressive Arts Therapy Training Centers and the ISIS European training institutes. Paolo's work is groundbreaking in its ability to cross genres. Not only is he an internationally recognized teacher, Paolo Knill is a musician, performing artist and innovator in the area of community art-making. His work is essential to extending psychotherapy beyond the disciplines of traditional clinical boundaries into the realms of expression and art.

Paolo J. Knill's father Jakob Knill Frech was a carpenter. His grandfather Jakob Knill Rutishuser was a farmer and Paolo J. Knill's great grandfather Anton Knill was an alternative healer. Paolo J. Knill attended the Kantonschule Schaffhausen in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, graduating in 1953. Paolo J. Knill then obtained his diploma in Music Education and Historic Woodwinds at the Schweizerischer Musikpädagogischer Verband in Basel, Switzerland under the supervision of Professor August Wenzinger and Professor Hansmartin Linde. From 1953 to 1958 he studied Musicology with Professor Dr. E. von Fischer, Professor Dr. Conradin and Professor Dr. Jacoby at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. In 1958 he completed a Master’s of Science in Aerodynamics and Structural Mechanics minoring in Humanities and Applied Psychology from the Swiss Institute for Technology ETH Zurich. From 1957 to 1959 Paolo served as the Research Assistant of Professor Dr. Rauscher. From 1959 to 1961 he studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) located in Cambridge, MA in the Sloan Institute for Management and Business Administration where he studied Organizational Consulting and Management Consulting. During his studies at MIT, Paolo J. Knill was a Research Fellow at the Aerospace Lab and an Adjunct Faculty for Music. In 1970 Paolo J. Knill completed his certificate for Youth and Family Counseling for the Canton of Schaffhausen. In 1976 he completed his Ph.D. in Psychology at the Union Graduate School in Yellow Springs, Ohio. His extensive and varied educational background is fundamental to the multimodal theories and practices of the field to which he is essential in founding, Expressive Arts Therapy.

Paolo J. Knill's professional career has brought him and his unique life story across the globe and to many institutions of higher education. Paolo worked as a Consultant for economic development from 1961-1965 for the Keller Associates in Lima, Peru. From 1961 to 1965 Paolo was the Cantor B conductor of Choir and Orchestra at the Lutheran Church in Lima, Peru. From 1966-1970 Paolo was the CEO and General Manager of Bernex Innovations. In 1970 he was an Assistant Professor of Music Education at the Conservatory of Winterthur and Zürich. At the same time Paolo J. Knill was also a Junior Partner in OD [OE] and Management Consulting for ISME (Stettbacher Partners Zurich). From 1973 to 1975 Paolo J. Knill was the Guest Professor in the Music Department at Tufts University in Medford, MA. In 1976 Paolo began his work at Lesley University located in Cambridge, MA where he was a professor of Counseling Psychology and Expressive Arts Therapies, as well as the Senior Adviser for doctoral students. During the 19 years of his work at Lesley University, Paolo J. Knill was supervising and teaching in an academic division with over 150 graduate students from over 35 foreign countries. In 1996 he was promoted to Professor Emeritus at Lesley University.

From 1975 to 1986 Paolo J. Knill was an Adjunct Professor at The College for Social Work in St. Gallen and Zürich, Switzerland. Beginning in 1982 continuing to the present day Paolo has served as a faculty member at the Scandinaviska Institute for Uttrykande Konst in Gothenberg, Sweden and Oslo, Norway. Paolo J. Knill taught at the University of Georgia in Athens from 1984 to 1985 as a visiting professor in the Department of Art Education and Art Therapy. During the eighties Paolo was also a faculty member at the Arts Institute Project of Israel in Tel Aviv. 1984 was the year in which Paolo initiated the International School for Interdisciplinary Studies (ISIS) in Zurich, Switzerland with training centers in Canada, Denmark, Germany and the USA. In 1985 and 1986 Paolo J. Knill was a visiting professor at Phillips University in Marburg, Germany. From 1990 to the present date Paolo is an EGIS Supervisor Trainer, as part of the leadership and founding team he has worked together with Dr. Herbert Eberhart developing the concept and training curriculum for EGIS. In 1991 Paolo was a Visiting Professor at the University of Heidelberg, Germany in the Division of Theology. Paolo J. Knill was also a Visiting Professor at The University of Tübingen in Germany within the department of Education. In 1998 Paolo J. Knill assumed his current role as Rector for the European Graduate School.

Shaun McNiff writes in the forward to Paolo Knill's book Minstrels of Soul: "[Paolo Knill's] multidisciplinary background as a graduate of the Swiss Institute of Technology, a musician, performance artist, education psychologist and manager did not fit the specialization doctrines of our contemporary professions" (Knill, 1995; 10). His multi-faceted background led to the foundation of his theory and educational system of Expressive Arts as a creative strategy to bypass traditional boundaries in the professions and was a way for him to dedicate himself to the liberal arts. His unique approach to training and education creates a synergy of theory and praxis leading to groundbreaking educational experiences for his students. The work of Expressive Arts Therapy focuses on embracing a holistic one within a larger healing frame. Expressive Art Therapists develop a multitude of competencies in the arts and creative fields which are integrated into their training and development. Through such an approach Paolo's work is able to feed the artistic process within individuals contextualized by a theoretical background.

Paulo J. Knill is instrumental in the foundation of Expressive Arts Therapy which began over 36 years ago. The field is spreading around the world into multiple careers - for example, Expressive Arts in Supervision, Coaching and Consulting. Paulo J. Knill was honored with the shining star by the International Association of Expressive Arts Therapy as a pioneer of the field, he is a honorary member of the "Berufsverband der Musiktherapeuten" of Germany and a Honorary Fellow of the Ascona Scientific Association. He has traveled and worked extensively in international contexts. He is the author of Minstrels of Soul: Intermodal Expressive Therapy (EGS Press), Ausdruckstherapie (Eres Edition Lilienthal), Medien in Therapie und Erziehung (Eres Edition Lilienthal) and co-author of Principles and Practice of Expressive Arts Therapy: Toward a Therapeutic Aesthetics. and Lösungskunst (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht).

Paolo J. Knill argues for an interdisciplinary approach to therapy highlighting the multitude of connections between expressive therapies and other phenomena in both the arts and psychotherapy. His book Intermodal Expressive Therapy (1995) furthers this claim. Paolo J. Knill is arguing that one must have an intermodal understanding of different techniques as to avoid a superficial relationship with multiple art forms within therapeutic work. Knill does not merely bring art into psychotherapy but rather begins with a centering in art, from this perspective he develops the philosophy, theory and praxis of Expressive Arts Therapy.

Crystallization theory is a key concept in Paolo J. Knill's work. This theory explains the psychic material that art mediums create as they come into "optimal clarity, precision of feeling and thought". Paolo J. Knill's theory looks at communication modality or multiple forms of art, each form of art help facilitate crystallization. The intermodal transfer, is a way of movement between different modalities of art that therefore facilitate focusing. Focusing is a process by which one can develop emotional clarity through the imagination as a path toward the development of clarity in psychic material such as images, feelings and meanings. Through a multi-modal approach to art therapy the patient and therapist relationship is fundamentally altered, transference becomes a psychic space of which creativity and crystallization co-emerge. Healing is no longer a two-way process that attempts to cure disease but rather becomes a blooming process laden with healing potentiality. The theoretical implications of such works move the realms of aesthetics and psychotherapy into the postmodern era.



Paolo J. Knill is the provost of the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.