Violet Solomon Oaklander 1927-2021

Violet Oaklander was the author of the books Windows to Our Children: A Gestalt Therapy Approach to Children and Adolescents (now published in 16 languages) and Hidden Treasure: A Map to the Child’s Inner Self (now published in 8 languages) as well as several journal articles, book chapters, and audio and video recordings on psychotherapeutic work with children. She earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, a Master of Arts in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling, a Master of Science in Special Education with emotionally disturbed children, and was a certified Gestalt therapist.

Violet by pond in violet and pink clothesViolet’s unique approach to working with children, which combines Gestalt Therapy theory, philosophy, and practice with a variety of expressive techniques, has won international recognition. She earned a lifetime achievement award from the Association of Play Therapy, U.S., and received numerous other awards for her contribution to the mental health field.

About Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation

The Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation (VSOF) is a non-profit corporation created to further the work of Dr. Violet Oaklander, eminent child and adolescent psychotherapist, trainer, and author. The Foundation brings together dedicated mental health professionals who are preserving, extending and supporting Dr. Oaklander’s Gestalt-based therapeutic work with children and adolescents, as well as continuing her training work with adults.

The Birth of a Foundation

In October 2003 approximately 20 of Violet’s family members and long-time colleagues began meeting in Santa Barbara, California to discuss various ways of carrying on Violet’s work after she retired. These founding members, current contributing members, and the VSOF Board members have been deeply touched by Violet’s work and are dedicated to ensuring its longevity.


19 Members of the Foundation with violet

Our Vision

Since its inception, VSOF founding members worked with Violet to launch the VSOF website and store, develop training materials and programs, publish an electronic newsletter for Friends of the Foundation members and for the wider community of health professionals, create an archive library, network with scholars and professionals around the world, and develop a scholarship program to provide training in the Oaklander Model for those in need of assistance. They also created the first Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation conference, which took place in November 2011 in Malibu, California, and continues to meet bi-annually  regarding the application and further development of the Oaklander Model.

Board Members

  • Karen Fried, Psy.D., LMFT

    Karen Fried, Psy.D., M.F.T. is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an Educational Therapist in Santa Monica, California. She has a private practice in Psychotherapy and is Co-Director of the K&M Center. Inc., a learning center providing educational and remedial services. Karen uses the Oaklander Model of Child Therapy in her practice and is the President of the Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation. She trains child and adolescent therapists in this model in the US and internationally. Trainings, online tools, and many resources can be found at oaklandertraining.org. Karen can be reached at karen@karenfried.com.

  • Avatar photo

    Peter Mortola, Ph.D.

    Peter Mortola, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of School and Counseling Psychology at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where he coordinates the School Psychology Program. He teaches classes on lifespan development, group counseling for children, and consultation in the schools. He also leads preventative groups for fifth-grade boys at a local elementary school and is in the process of publishing a book on the subject. Peter has worked closely with Dr. Violet Oaklander over the past ten years, attending nine intensive summer trainings, and is in the process of publishing a book on the Oaklander method of training adults to do therapy with children through the GestaltPress. Peter can be contacted at this email: pmortola@lclark.edu.

  • Claire Mercurio, Ph.D.

    Claire Mercurio, Ph.D. received her B.A. with High Honors in Psychology from the University of Michigan in 1984 and her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern California in 1991. During her internship with Community Counseling Service/Pacific Center in Los Angeles she was exposed to Violet’s book, “Windows to our Children.” Shortly after becoming a licensed psychologist and having her first child, Claire moved to Santa Barbara, where unbeknownst to her (at that time), Violet lived! Claire has had a private practice in Santa Barbara for almost 30 years. She was an adjunct faculty member at Antioch University for six years, and supervised interns at Family Service Agency and New Beginnings. Violet’s methods have continuously been the driving force behind what she teaches and practices. Claire can be contacted at this email: cmercuriophd@gmail.com.

  • Lynn Stadler headshot

    Lynn Stadler, MFT

    Lynn Stadler, MA, MFT is a Gestalt psychotherapist and licensed Marriage Family Therapist working in private practice in Santa Barbara, California with children, adolescents, adults, and families. She received her Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, where she is now adjunct faculty, teaching Psychotherapy with Children & Adolescents. She is a graduate of the Santa Barbara Gestalt Training Center, and she completed intensive training with the Violet Oaklander Institute. Lynn provides workshops, seminars, and Gestalt training for social service agencies, universities and other teaching organizations worldwide — most recently online and in-person for students in Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Italy, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Russia/Tomsk, Peru, and Mexico. Lynn is also a member of the International Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy (IAAGT). For training and related questions, please contact lynnstadler@verizon.net.

  • Patric White, Ph.D.

    Patric White completed his MSW degree from the University of Missouri and his Ph.D. in Psychology from International University. Patric has been in advanced training in Gestalt Therapy for many years in Los Angeles. He also has completed various trainings with Violet Oaklander and been supervised by her in Gestalt Child Psychotherapy. Currently Patric is in private practice in Hermosa Beach, California, specializing in child and adolescent and family therapy. He also consults for various school districts on the treatment of emotionally disturbed children. Patric conducts individual supervision for Interns in various clinical disciplines focusing on Child/Adolescent issues. As a founding member of the Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation, Patric is passionate about issues involving children’s welfare in our cultural context. He can be reached by email at dr.patric.white@gmail.com.

  • Mha Atma Khalsa

    Mha Atma Khalsa is Violet’s son. He lives in Los Angeles and has been in practice as a doctor of chiropractic for many years. He also spent many years as Violet Oaklander’s personal chiropractor. He is a founding member of VSOF and serves on the Board as a representative of Violet’s family. He can be contacted at mhaatma@earthlink.net.

  • Camille Jarmie Harris, Ph.D.

    Camille Jarmie Harris, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice, Core Faculty in the Clinical Psychology Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and Treasurer for the Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute (2018) following her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling (2011). Camille became introduced to Violet Oaklander’s work as a student of Peter Mortola, and later as an intern and post-doctoral trainee for Claire Mercurio. Her clinical areas of expertise focus on supporting families through the perinatal and postpartum periods as well as early attachment, work with children and adolescents utilizing Violet Oaklander’s model, and animal-assisted therapy. These are also areas of specialization in Camille’s teaching and mentorship as she teaches future psychologists at Pacifica. Camille can be reached at: cjarmieharris@gmail.com

Founding Members

  • Felicia Carroll, M.Ed, MA.
  • Christiane Elsbree, LCSW, ACSW, BCD
  • Karen Fried, Psy.D., M.F.T.
  • Doug Honeyman, Psy.D.
  • Mha Atma Khalsa
  • André Kuenzli, Dipl. Psych
  • Fabienne Kuenzli, Ph.D., LMFT
  • Marjorie Mapes. LISW, RPT-S
  • Claire Mercurio, Ph.D.
  • Peter Mortola, Ph.D.
  • Nancy Murdock, MFT
  • Violet Oaklander, PhD.
  • Martha Oaklander
  • Sara Oaklander
  • Christine Orpen, MA. MFT
  • Michael Petracca, MFT
  • Helen M. Sherry, Ph.D.
  • Lynn Stadler, MA, MFT
  • Sue Ellen Talley, M.A., LMFT (Founding Board President)
  • Sandy Volk, M.A., LMFT
  • Lee Weiser, Ph.D.
  • Patric White, Ph.D.
  • Judith Yeager, MFT, A.T.R.

Contributing Members

  • Jon Blend – Trainer
  • Felicia Carroll- Trainer
  • Mha Atma Khalsa – Scholarship fund
  • Christine McKenna – Board meeting secretary
  • Sara Oaklander – Publication of Dr. Oaklander’s Books and Store
  • Max Solomon – Store
  • Giandomenico Bagatin