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Sylvia Zofia Hartowicz, PhD, ATR-BC

How I got here...


My name is Sylvia and I would like to share a little bit about my story. 


I came to the United States from Poland as a little girl in 1984, and grew up in New York City with filmmaker parents and a younger sister. The difficulties of adjusting to living in a new culture, in the big city, brought me many lessons. There was heartbreak and loss, separation and struggles with belonging, and the hustle and bustle of making it in America. As all of us do, I picked up many beliefs about what life was like from the experiences I was having. At a very young age, I was told that I had an "old soul" and I found myself dealing with my circumstances by deeply engaging in the imaginal realms. I spend my time reading, making art, and day dreaming. I recognised the power of my toughts, since sometimes what I dreamt of would manifest in my reality in strange, unexpected ways. The magical child in me felt both afraid and in awe of these occurances. 


In college, at Washington University in St. Louis (class of '95), I found myself painting self-portraits and making masks out of clay that were both beautiful and mysterious.  This was my first conscious encounter with art as medicine. It was this self-exploration that began my healing journey. I saw that there were hidden parts of myself that I didn't know, and that by creating representations of these parts I could understand myself better. At this time, I also started working as a behavioural therapist with autistic children, and I realised that I had a gift of presence and integrity when working with others.


I graduated from college in 1999, and soon found myself in graduate school in Chicago studying Art Therapy. I was excited to find a direction that supported my continued self-exploration, my interest in helping others, and my love of art-making. The program I attended was highly experiential and intensive. In our second semester we were initiated into practicum, and I began working with homeless women at a shelter offering counseling support and art therapy services. Many of the women there struggled with addictions, and others had severe mental health issues. I learned that the people we often ostracize from society have great wisdom and access to alternate realities. This was my first exposure to the concept of spiritual emergency. 


During my second year in graduate school, I worked with children who were struggling with emotional and behavioral problems at an inner-city elementary school. My supervisor was an art therapist as well as a Catholic nun and I learned a great deal from her about compassion, empathy, and acceptance. After graduating in 2002, I continued on the path of working with children and families in community mental health for the next eight years in New York City (2003-2006) and in Portland, Oregon (2006-2010). I worked in foster care prevention, outpatient and inpatient settings, residential programs, and private practice. During this time, I continued on my own healing journey by making art, engaging in therapeutic services for myself, and cultivating a growing interest in Buddhism and other eastern philosophies. I became involved with Landmark Education, a program dedicated to transformation, in which I was both a participant and eventually a coach. I also co-founded the Creative Arts Therapy Coalition in Portland and started the non-profit Free Arts NW. 


In 2011, I decided to make a big life change and moved to San Francisco to begin the PhD program in East West Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). The program has allowed me to delve deeper into my personal spiritual exploration and to find ways of connecting my experiences with Western psychological thought. Topics covered in the program include: transpersonal and integral psychology, Asian psychologies, modern consciousness studies, participatory and socially engaged spirituality, depth psychology (Jungian, archetypal, and psychoanalytic), religious comparative studies, shamanic studies, spiritual and entheogenically assisted counseling, and ecopsychology. In addition to the rich engagement in the program, I participated in numerous trainings and experiences outside of CIIS, and had the opportunity of working at CIIS Public Programs, where I assited at a variety of workshops that encourage personal discovery, spiritual inquiry and professional development. 

I continue to live in the Bay Area in a communal house in Alameda. I feel blessed to have a supportive community that allows me to continue my spiritual exploration... 


My outlook and approach... 


Art as extension of self

Buddhism/ nondual perspective

During my second semester at CIIS, I took a class called Indigenous Traditions: Ancestral Healing and Consciousness. This class changed my life and lead me to dissertation topic. I saw that the stories of my ancestors and the traumas passed down to me where continuing to impact the unfolding of my story. I became interested in the transmission of trauma from to generation to generation, and researched how this was being addressed in the healing professions. I participated in many workshops on the topic and delved into a personal inquiry that I am continuing to explore as I write my dissertation. The new perspective on healing that has emerged from this inquiry has been profound, and I am clear that it will inform the healing work that I do in the future. It has allowed me to hold the stories of my ancestors in a new way, one where I can honor their origins, and at the same time recognize myself as something more than the stories that I carry.

Definitions of terms in title and vision statement- my philosophy/approach


Presented or facilitated the following... 


Thank you to the following teachers and experiences for informing my work: 


Satya Narayan Goenka and Vipassana Meditation. 

Jeff Foster and his workshops on "Falling in Love with Where You Are."

Malidoma Some and the Dagara Tradition of West Africa. 

Armand Volkas and Healing the Wounds of History



Presented or facilitated the following... 









Make it personal? Include goals/intentions? 

Sylvia Hartowicz is currently completing her dissertation on the healing and transformation that happens in bringing the ancestral story to consciousness. Her journey with ancestral healing has brought her into contact with many teachers and guides... 


Sylvia Hartowicz, PhDc, has a MA in Art Therapy and has been a Board Certified Credentialed Art Therapist since 2004.  She has worked in a variety of settings providing art therapy services, and has presented at several national and international conferences about integrating spirituality and art therapy for healing. 


Sylvia Hartowicz, PhDc, has received extensive training and experience as a life coach through Landmark Education. As a coach and head coach for the Self Expression and Leadership program, she supported participants in living an authentic life and successfully creating inspiring community projects. In addition, Sylvia has gained many relevant skills for transformational coaching in her Art Therapy and East West Psychology education. 



Sylvia Hartowicz, PhDc, has a Certificate in Spiritual Counseling from the East West Psychology program at the California Institute of Integral Studies, where she is currently a doctorate student. Aside from teaching spiritual counseling skills, the program has provided a deepened understanding of contemplative psychology, depth psychology, mindfulness and other eastern practices in therapy, ancestral medicine, and the use of ritual and nature-based practices for healing.   



Email or call 971-255-3411 for a free consultation. 

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