Collective Grief and Trauma Conference 2021

This Event Has Ended-- It Was a Spectacular Success! You can read more details about it at the official conference site here.



Learn Expressive and Somatic Approaches to Address Collective Grief and Trauma in Our Clients and in Ourselves


On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that we were officially in the state of pandemic due to COVID-19. The threat of an unseen "enemy" became real and life dramatically changed for individuals, families, and communities. A time of physical distancing and social separation began, leaving many with an overwhelming sense of immobilization, fear, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. 

The COVID-19 has been called an "unprecedented" global event and has altered our internal and external perceptions of stability and security. In some parts of the world, the impact of escalating deaths coupled with social separation and fear of contagion continues to impact the normal process of grief and loss necessary to healing and restoration. For others, the distress of trauma reactions is dramatically impacting existing mental health and physical conditions. For specific ethnic and age groups, the pandemic has been particularly cruel, causing deaths and disabilities at alarming rates. 


The pandemic has undeniably challenged our capacities as mental health professionals to help those in our care and in most need. For healthcare professionals in particular, the pandemic continues to be a daily experience of exhaustion and helplessness, coupled with traumatic stress and often unmanageable grief reactions. 

We are also experiencing the impacts of the pandemic within larger contexts of trauma and loss. During this time period, movements such as Black Lives Matter, conditions such as systemic racism, dynamics of political unrest, and unaddressed inequities in gender, ageism, and socioeconomic status underscore historically unresolved social justice issues. The pandemic has also forced the world to focus more closely on the critical situation of climate change and how the ecology continues to be threatened through our inability to address the stewardship of our planet with immediacy and for future for generations. 


Practitioners and communities are now undeniably confronted with communal grief and trauma. In a sense, the pandemic has required us to pause what we knew as "normal" and face many issues that have left unattended. For the first time many have become aware that there are communities and groups defined by intergenerational, transgenerational, and historical trauma and grief. The voices of these communities not only are important in helping to illuminate what constitutes collective grief and trauma. They also contain much of the wisdom of healing rituals, practices, and procedures that have existed for thousands of years and have guided the repair of trauma and the restoration of the self during times of grief and loss. ---Program Director, Cathy Malchiodi, PhD


With respect for the challenges we face in addressing collective grief and trauma, this conference brought together both new and recognized voices in the fields of grief and trauma. Our emphasis was on inclusion of voices not always present in conference programming and on innovative methods of addressing collective grief and trauma. To this end, our intention was to provide an event that includes, but is not limited to the following:


  • Presentations from leading trauma and grief experts to help us contextualize our experiences and the experiences of people in our care;
  • Actual practices grounded in expressive arts and somatic approaches to only address the mind, but also the body's experiences of collective grief and trauma;
  • Applications that demonstrate integration of these practices to support regulation, co-regulation, exploration, and restoration;
  • Understanding and recognition of the intergenerational, transgenerational, and historical grief and trauma that are central to collective and communal experiences of loss and traumatic stress;
  • Development of awareness of social justice issues and individual lived experiences that are central to the grief and trauma experienced during this time period.