Expressive Arts Therapy in Trauma Healing and Recovery
"Neurobiology has taught us that we need to “come to our senses” in developing effective components for addressing trauma...Expressive arts therapy releases the potential of the senses to “tell the story” of traumatic experiences via nonverbal, implicit forms of communication."
"Expressive arts help people discover just what forms of expression will be self-regulating, communicate their experiences in reparative ways, imagine restorative narratives, and ultimately support recovery."
"The expressive arts have a unique role in restoring a sense of vitality and joy in traumatized individuals because aliveness is not something we can be “talked into.” Instead, it is experienced in both mind and body and particularly on a somatosensory level."
Cathy A. Malchiodi, PhD, ATR-BC, LPCC, LPAT, REAT, holds a doctorate in Psychology with a specialization in research and health psychology, and is a clinical mental health counselor, expressive arts therapist, and art therapist who has spent over 30 years working with individuals with traumatic stress and studying how the arts support reparation, integration and recovery from trauma. She is the founder and executive director of the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute that trains mental health and health care practitioners in medical, educational, and community settings and assists in disaster relief and humanitarian efforts throughout the world. Cathy has given more than 500 invited presentations in the US, Canada, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Australia and has published numerous articles, chapters, and more than 20 books, including Trauma and Expressive Arts Therapy: Brain, Body and Imagination in the Healing Process, Understanding Children’s Drawings, Handbook of Art Therapy, Creative Arts and Play Therapy for Attachment Problems, and Creative Interventions with Traumatized Children. She has received numerous awards for distinguished service, clinical contributions and lifetime achievements, including honors from the Kennedy Center and Very Special Arts in Washington, DC. A passionate advocate for the role of the arts in health, she is a contributing writer for Psychology Today Online with more than 5 million readers and a visual artist and occasional ukulele and hulusi musician.
Join Our Certificate Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy Trainings Online!
Our Learning Center provides continuing education courses for psychotherapists and counselors who want to add expressive methods to their practices; for coaches and educators who want to learn more about how to include the healing arts in their work; and body-based practitioners who want to combine somatic approaches with additional knowledge in expressive arts. You can complete Level One or Level Two Certificates through online coursework or live webinars. Or you can complete our course sequences to achieve the EXAT [Expressive Arts Therapist, Trauma-Informed] for psychotherapists and mental health professionals or the EXA-CE for those practicing as coaches, educators, facilitators, or body-based practitioners. Please visit our Learning Center or the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute for more information.
Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy®
Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy® and Trauma-Informed Art Therapy® are approaches developed by Dr. Cathy Malchiodi that integrate trauma-informed practices, "brain-wise," body-based expressive arts approaches. They facilitate self-regulation and co-regulation; an embodied sense of safety; reparative relationships; and communication of implicit and body-based experiences. To learn more about these psychotherapeutic approaches, please visit the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute for online courses, certificate programs and trainings throughout the US and the world [see Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute website]. The Institute offers professional development and continuing education for mental health professionals and master's and doctoral students and emphasizes integrative methods and current research in expressive arts, creative arts therapies, and trauma-informed care and complements somatic, sensory integration and neurobiology-informed methods of trauma intervention. Expressive arts therapy is the purposeful use of multiple arts forms to support individuals' trauma recovery The Institute supports a vision for advanced understanding and education in these methods of psychotherapy and promotes the value of these approaches as complementary to trauma-informed care, psychotherapy and wellness practices.
Welcome to My Website!
If you found your way here, you are probably as passionate about expressive arts therapy as I am. Or you have discovered, through firsthand experience, the healing benefits of the arts in your own reparation and recovery from trauma. The arts have the potential to transform lives and often in profound ways; research is demonstrating that the arts improve not only our quality of life, but also are effective in reducing pain, fatigue and stress and in increasing cognitive abilities and a sense of emotional well-being. I believe that they also provide two important reparative experiences not found in "talk therapy." The expressive arts can rekindle a sense of aliveness, giving us back the pleasure and experience of play that trauma often robs from us. They also are a uniquely human source of imagination that can be harnessed to manifest new healing narratives to replace trauma stories that have overtaken mind and body.
This website is dedicated to "expressive arts therapy without borders" -- the use of the arts for health and wellness, psychotherapy, community development, service to others, and social transformation. When words are not enough, we turn to the arts to repair and to tell our stories. And in doing so, we find pathways to wellness, recovery and transformation. To that end I am an advocate and explorer of how these approaches change lives throughout the world, each and every day.--Cathy A. Malchiodi, PhD
HEALING THE MIND WITH THE IMAGINATION: BEYOND THEORY. View or listen to Season 2, Episode 11: After experiencing trauma, it can be challenging to start talking about what happened. But one way to overcome that is to find other ways to express yourself. So as an art therapist, how does Dr. Cathy Malchiodi use color, sound, and movement to help people tell their stories and start to heal?
Recent Articles and Interviews
Psychotherapy Networker, March/April 2018, Ryan Howes, PhD: "To bring myself up to date, I reached out to Cathy Malchiodi, a Kentucky-based art therapist and author of more than 20 books on the topic, including The Art Therapy Sourcebook and the recently released, What to Do When Children Clam Up in Psychotherapy. As president of Art Therapy Without Borders and founder of The Trauma Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute, Malchiodi has her finger on the pulse of the profession and is at the forefront of a growing movement to treat returning combat veterans with art and expressive art therapy." See this link for the rest of the interview.
Slate.com, Rebecca Bloom: Dr. Malchiodi's interview with Slate on "The Devil Is in the Doodles." Pop culture is full of kids who reveal their inner demons by drawing creepy pictures. Does that happen in real life? To read more, see this link.
Kindling the Spark: The Healing Powers of the Expressive Arts in Psychotherapy Networker, March/April 2019. This article will give you an overview of how the expressive arts are integrated within the context of psychotherapy.
A 2020 Vision for Expressive Arts Therapy. On Psychology Today, an article by Dr. Malchiodi about expressive arts therapy. "By definition, expressive arts therapy is a field of practice that emerged in the latter part of the 20th century. In contrast to individual applications of specific art forms [visual art, music, dance, drama] in psychotherapy, expressive arts therapy is understood as the use of more than one art form, consecutively or in combination and depending on individual or group goals. In other words, one art form may dominate or multiple forms may be introduced in work with a child, adult, family, or group."
Photo Gallery of Recent Keynotes, Trainings, Events and Projects