Mala Gitlin Betensky, 88, a retired Washington clinical psychologist who wrote books on the use of paint, clay and other arts and crafts to express inner feelings, especially among adolescents, died June 8 at a nursing home in Pittsburgh. She had Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Betensky, who lived in Pittsburgh for the past two years, practiced psychotherapy and in particular art therapy in a Washington private practice for more than 35 years before retiring in the early 1990s.
She had taught psychology as an adjunct professor at Holton-Arms Junior College, the University of Delaware-Newark and the University of Haifa in Israel. She also was a consultant to the Peace Corps.
She gave workshops in art therapy and wrote several books on the subject, including "The Social Psychology of Adolescents," "Self-Discovery Through Self-Expression: Use of Art in Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents," and "What Do You See? Phenomenology of Therapeutic Art Expression."
As a young woman, she immigrated from her native Poland to Palestine in 1930 with a Zionist group Habonim and became a founder of a kibbutz that counseled young people.
Dr. Betensky traveled overseas and lived, worked and studied in Vienna.
By 1940, she was working with youth groups in New York, Los Angeles and other cities.
She received from the New School for Social Research in New York City a college equivalency degree because of her previous studies and a doctorate in sociology and psychology.
She was a member of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington and a life member of Hadassah.
Survivors include her husband, Leon Betensky, and a daughter, Aya Betensky, both Pittsburgh, and two grandchildren.