Expressive arts therapy and Trauma articles by Cathy Malchiodi, PhD

You can download these articles for use in reference lists or bibliography searches on expressive arts therapy and related topics, citing the sources of course!

A 2020 Vision for Expressive Arts Therapy | Cathy Malchiodi PhD for Psychology Today Online
We have historically used the arts in integrative ways, particularly within the contexts of enactment, ceremony, performance, and ritual. I have spent more than 30 years studying how integrative arts-based forms of psychotherapy support health and well-being, particularly in work with trauma. To me, it is the integrative synergy of the arts, based on cultural traditions and current trauma-informed practice, that is requisite to addressing traumatic stress with most children, adults, families, groups, and communities. It's about movement, rhythm, synchrony, sound, story, enactment and community-- and most of all, the senses as sources of embodied awareness.
2020 Vision_Expressive Arts Therapy.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 365.5 KB
Kindling the Spark: The Healing Power of Expressive Arts by Cathy Malchiodi PhD for Psychotherapy Networker Magazine 2019
The natural, bottom-up reparative process inherent in all forms of expressive arts therapy begins with expression of the body’s sensory and kinesthetic experiences as a foundation for the eventual exploration of emotions and personal narratives. With talk therapy, we tend to stay with narratives that only tap the higher brain through language. But by not engaging the senses, we ignore the healing potential of embodied somatosensory communication, which naturally relaxes the mind’s control and begins to tap a deeper level of implicit experience.
Kindling the Spark.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 179.5 KB
Expressive Therapies Continuum: Three-Part Healing Harmony by Cathy Malchiodi PhD for Psychology Today
A concise overview of the three-part framework for bottom-up, sensory-based approaches to trauma resolution via the expressive arts.
Expressive Therapies Continuum_ Three-Pa
Adobe Acrobat Document 358.0 KB
From an Academic Hour presented at SingHealth in Singapore in 2017 by Cathy Malchiodi PhD
Summary of Academic Hour Presentation at SingHealth/Singapore on February 15, 2017; you'll find a helpful summary of art therapy research at the end of the article as a bonus!
Art-based therapies as personalised medi
Adobe Acrobat Document 614.0 KB
Calm Through Creativity: How the Arts Can Aid Trauma Recovery | National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth
This article emphasizes the importance of expressive arts as self-regulation and stress reduction and can also be found at the National Clearinghouse site at
Calm Through Creativity.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 95.3 KB
Creative Arts Therapy and Attachment | Cathy Malchiodi, PhD
This downloadable document provides some of the compelling reasons to include creative arts therapy and play therapy in work with attachment disorders. From Psychology Today Online, Part One of a Two Part series on this topic.
Adobe Acrobat Document 639.6 KB
Outline of Five Major Principles of Trauma-Informed Practice | Cathy Malchiodi PhD
Adobe Acrobat Document 38.7 KB
Australia Childhood Foundation Interview with Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, 2015 | Part One
An interview with a focus on trauma-informed care and attachment via the expressive arts and play-based approaches.
ACF Blog for Professionals - An intervie
Adobe Acrobat Document 1'008.8 KB
Australia Childhood Foundation Interview with Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, 2015 | Part Two
Second part of interview with a focus on trauma-informed care and attachment via the expressive arts and play-based approaches.
ACF Blog for Professionals - An intervie
Adobe Acrobat Document 2.0 MB
Five Quick Facts About Art Therapy from PsychCentral
Adobe Acrobat Document 58.0 KB

Ten "coolest" art therapy interventions

The Ten Coolest Art Therapy Interventions via Psychology Today

From the article..."All helping professionals know that no one intervention can be applied to all clients; they know that the best interventions are those that are tailored to clients' needs and their presenting situations. As an art therapist, I can say from experience that this challenge is the "coolest" part of my work with clients--to invent a creative strategy to promote change, insight, and well-being. A good art therapist, like a good psychologist, counselor, or family therapist, is adept at innovation and creative adaptation. A good art therapist also knows that for many clients, no technique is needed if the client is capable of creative expression without a directive or gimmick.

My criteria for determining the "coolest" art therapy interventions include:

  • Historical Tradition: Interventions commonly taught to therapists-in-training in the field of art therapy and related mental health professions;
  • Innovation: Use of a specific art material or visual media to address clients' presenting problems or for the health and well-being of clients;
  • Adaptation: Development of a specific intervention based on a psychotherapeutic approach such as psychoanalysis, CBT, or other model;
  • Popularity: Consistent appearance in literature, conferences, or workshops, whether it's the actual intervention or a variation of the intervention.

At the end of the article, there are links to the various "interventions."

So you want to be an art therapist...Psychology today series

So You Want to be an Art Therapist, Part One: Art Therapy as a Career Path

This series of posts on Psychology Today gives potential students a realistic overview of how to prepare for a career as an art therapist and how to decide if it is the profession for you. They discuss the practice of art therapy in two parts of the world: the US and the United Kingdom; these regions happen to be the most developed in terms of art therapy education and professional recognition.They also include information about related fields-- arts in healthcare, creative arts in counseling, play therapy, and expressive arts therapies-- to help you understand the similarities and differences between art therapy and these closely related areas. Finally, these posts attempt to put career options into perspective with regard to today's mental health and healthcare settings so that if you decide to pursue a career in art therapy, you will be as knowledgeable as possible about the job market, what to expect and what the return on your investment will be.


In the US, most art therapists are also licensed as professional or mental health counselors; for more information see "Art Therapy and Counseling" at