Violet Solomon Oaklander
1927 - 2021
April 18, 1927 - September 21, 2021 Violet Solomon Oaklander, beloved family member, friend, and mentor to countless people near and far, took her final breath in her own bed on September 21, 2021 at age 94. She was a child and adolescent therapist known for her method of integrating Gestalt Therapy theory and practice with play therapy.

Violet was born on April 18, 1927 in Lowell, MA to a Jewish Russian immigrant family. She grew up in Cambridge, MA, with her parents Joseph and Mollie Solomon and her two older brothers, Sidney and Arthur. Violet later lived in Miami; New York City; Denver; Albany; and Long Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Santa Barbara, California. After 21 years in Santa Barbara, she moved to Los Angeles to live near her son and daughter-in-law in her retirement. She was married for 26 years to Harold Oaklander, a licensed social worker and Gestalt therapist (deceased). Together, they had three children: Mha Atma S. Khalsa (Arthur), Michael (deceased), and Sara. After she and Harold divorced, she never remarried, but for most of the last 19 years of her life was accompanied by her beloved kitty Maydeleh. After Maydeleh died in early 2021, Violet then adopted Shayna, a loving middle-aged cat who stayed with her until the end.

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'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. In February 2012, Oaklander was honored and awarded by the Edna Reiss-Sophie Greenberg Chair at the Reiss-Davis Child Study Center in Los Angeles.

For 27 years, Violet conducted a highly successful two-week training program in California which was attended by participants from all over the world. In addition, she was a regular instructor for many years with the extension programs of the University of California campuses in Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and San Diego, and the Pacifica Graduate Institute.

While Violet grew up in a warm, loving family, her life and work were also shaped by several major physical and emotional traumas. As a five-year-old child, she sustained a burn to a large part of her torso, arms, and legs in a home accident. She has stated in interviews that the suffering and trauma she sustained in the hospital for months while being treated for this burn was the spark that ignited her interest in working with children. About this childhood injury, Violet said, "It could be the beginning of why I do this work...Everything I've ever worked on, especially with my Gestalt therapy training...always went back to that burn..." When she was 11 she contracted diphtheria, which caused a secondary infection leading to a lifetime of advancing hearing loss. At age 17, her beloved brother Arthur was killed in Germany just a few months before the end of the Second World War. And her son Michael was diagnosed with lupus at age 13, leading to an 18 month decline during which she spent most of her time caring for him before his death. Just before the tragedy of Michael's illness, Violet's father died suddenly of a heart attack, and just before Michael's death, her mother was killed by an unlicensed teenage driver.

These tragic episodes contributed to Violet's amazing ability to empathize with and be present for children and adolescents, which powerfully spurred her work to create a method of therapy and healing that would later spread across the world. Furthermore, Violet's lifelong dedication as a Jewish atheist and skeptic of anything supernatural was challenged by a series of experiences over many years related to her deceased parents, brother Arthur, and son Michael that defied those beliefs. These included communication through a medium with departed loved ones that conveyed information that no one in the world was privy to outside of Violet herself, and even predictions of future events which did later take place.

Violet's first book, Windows to Our Children, has become a treasured resource for child psychotherapists and other mental health professionals around the world, and has touched and transformed the lives of countless children and adolescents. Her legacy is now being sustained and promoted by the Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation, a non-profit corporation created to further her work. The Foundation was founded in 2003 by approximately twenty of Violet's family members and long-time colleagues who have created myriad ways to carry on Violet's work.

Violet is survived by her son Mha Atma S. Khalsa and daughter-in-law Martha Oaklander of Los Angeles, CA; her daughter Sara Oaklander and son-in-law Monte Allen of Somerville, MA; her grandchildren and great grandchildren Sat Sarbat Khalsa; Siri Oaklander, his wife Sneja, and their daughter Emma; Madeline Oaklander; and Michael Allen, his wife Caroline, and their baby boy due in February; as well as her dear first cousin/sister Ruth Block of Santa Monica, CA. She is also survived by her beloved nephews and their families and many dear cousins, as well as countless devoted and loving friends and colleagues, near and far; her devoted caregiver Dina Jarikova; and her cat Shayna.

A celebration of Violet's life will be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to the Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation at or by sending a check to P.O. Box 30607, Santa Barbara, CA 93130
Published by Los Angeles Times on Sep. 24, 2021.
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21 Entries
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
Sandra Armendariz
October 14, 2021
Violet Oaklander war für mich eine wunderbare große Lehrerin, in den vielen Jahren meiner therapeutischen Arbeit mit Kindern, Jugendlichen und Erwachsenen hat sie mich mit ihrer liebevollen, bedingungslos akzeptierenden Haltung geprägt und inspiriert. Danke für alles!
Heika Gröning
October 10, 2021
It is time to say hello again and this time for good. I wanted to thank you Violet for all you have brought to my professional and personal life. You have and will remain a bright shining star as I watch the sky at night from Switzerland or California. I shall miss you many years to come and will remind my heart of your teaching and your life enthousiasm. You are a soul of gold . I will carry you always in my sessions as your work has forever shaped mine... Love and rest in peace my dear I can hear from here your cristalline laughter . Fabienne Kuenzli Switzerland
Fabienne Kuenzli
October 3, 2021
Your life and work brought new understanding, new knowledge and skills. You have imparted hope and solutions to us in Singapore through your books and teachings about helping children and adolescents. We are blessed by your life work. Thank you.
Ng Sook Wai
October 3, 2021
Baruch Dayan HaEmet
rachel brill
October 2, 2021
May you rest in peace Violet.
Frank Farrell
September 29, 2021
Her writings inspire my work as a child psychiatrist in Washington DC. Peace to all her family and friends.
Meg van Achterberg
September 27, 2021
Violet was such a lovely woman - so dedicated, so generous and so alive. I was a pleasure to know her snd be inspired by her. So great she has mentored so many that her work will continue. My condolences to the whole family
Liv Estrup
September 27, 2021
Thank you for opening so many windows around the world. I´m grateful for your life, and having the chance to be with you online and experience your warmth, wisdom and sensibility. My condolences to family, colleagues and community. You´ll be missed.
Paula Bitsch Bidart, Chile.
September 27, 2021
We never met but you influence my work every day. Thank you for your beautiful life.
Douglas Green
September 26, 2021
Maureen, Maxine, Teri and Elia
September 26, 2021
Grazie al tuo libro ho scoperto il lavoro con i bambini nella gestalt e non l'ho più lasciato. Grazie
Francesca Annesini
September 26, 2021
Wanting to express my feelings for Violet´s family and her long time colleagues. Also I´m so grateful to have had the chance to meet her online and to get a glimpse of this heroine of mine whose book I had first in my hands almost 30 years ago. Thank you Violet, you´ll be missed and your work will live on. Wishing strength to the Foundation members. My eart is with you.
September 26, 2021
My condolences from Spain, honored and grateful to share, spend time in the Just for Now in the pandemic, a reference in my work and my look towards in peace Violet. Gracias, siempre en nuestros corazones!
Catherine Antequera Klein
September 25, 2021
Violet Oaklander inspired me with her precious clinical work with children and adolescents in South America, Brazil. It is an honor to have known her books and work, which I treasure in my work and in my personal life. Rest In Peace Violet as the knowledge, love and empathy you shared are now present in many fields throughout this world making it possible to reach, support the growth of children and adolescents.
Maria Willey
September 25, 2021
Deepest sympathy to her family.
Anni Dix
September 25, 2021
Gratefully for all you transmit to us in order better psychoterapist with children, adolescents, parents and family.
Mara Foppoli
September 25, 2021
Violet has changed the world through her dedication and loving work with children. She will be missed. Sending heartfelt sympathy to her family and friends.
Kathleen Shea
September 25, 2021
Desde chile,fuiste y serás mi mentora, gracias y buen viaje
Yaritza Ortiz
September 24, 2021
Violet and I have shard many wonderful and some difficult memories...she is my oldest and dearest friend. The last time I talked to her she sounded very tired. I will miss her but we shared so many happy and hard times together that when ever I think of her it will be with a smile on my face. Sleep well my friend and I am very happy to have had you in my life...
Rhoda Sherlock
September 24, 2021
We join her family and friends in grief at the passing of Violeta Oaklander. She has shared a great legacy with us, with which we will support children and adolescents. We send you our deepest condolences from Mexico, where we remember her with affection and gratitude.
Verónica Ruiz
September 24, 2021
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