Expressive Arts for Children with Traumatic Stress

Institute Faculty: Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPCC, LPAT, REAT

Registration Opens Soon! To address this growing need for responsible and effective applications of expressive arts in schools, community-based agencies and other settings, we invite teachers, school and mental health counselors, expressive arts facilitators, expressive arts therapists, psychologists, art therapists, artists in schools and healthcare, and helping professionals working with school-age children and adolescents to Expressive Arts for Children Experiencing Traumatic Stress. Because so many of us often take on the role of counselor and advocate with children in distress, this course is designed with a variety of settings and applications in mind. It provides best practices for integrating expressive arts-based methods [visual art, music, movement, drama, play, and imagination] to support children and teens who may be impacted by traumatic events including family violence, abuse, neglect and other adverse experiences. Of particular importance are the challenges these youth encounter including equity, poverty, violence and lack of necessary services and support and exposure to the arts.


Course Objectives:

  • Recognize at least seven signs of traumatic stress in children and adolescents;
  • Understand the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) pyramid in relation to developmental trauma in children;
  • Define “healing centered engagement” as a trauma-informed, culturally-relevant model for arts programming;
  • Identify the six developmental levels in children's and adolescent's art expressions and their relationship to developmental trauma;
  • Learn at least five ways to address anxiety in children and adolescents via art-based approaches;
  • Identify at least five developmental factors impacting children's experiences of traumatic stress;
  • Define a "brain-wise and body-based" model (Expressive Therapies Continuum) for designing art-based interventions in a variety of settings;
  • Apply at least three ways to support safety and self-regulation through art-based experiences in counseling, community and educational settings.


Participants will learn a variety of practical applications for immediate use in their work through lecture, discussion, brief film presentations and hands-on experiential activities. Come prepared to engage in individual and group arts-based experiences and to learn not only through didactic information, but also through creativity, play and imagination.


From a recent article in the Harvard School of Education News“Roughly half of American school children have experienced at least some form of trauma — from neglect, to abuse, to violence. In response, educators often find themselves having to take on the role of counselors, supporting the emotional healing of their students, not just their academic growth. With this evolving role comes an increasing need to understand and address the ways in which student trauma affects our education professionals.”