Art and Eating Disorders: Expressive Arts Therapy in the Treatment of Eating Disorders, Level 1

This workshop provides a brief overview of eating disorders and an introduction to using the arts in the treatment of eating disorders.

Expressive Arts Therapy is a multi-arts approach that focuses on the creative process and art-making combining visual arts, movement, drama, music, and writing to foster deep personal growth and community development.

This workshop uses a biopsychosocial-spiritual approach to the treatment of eating disorders. Engaging in drawing, painting, working with clay, movement, collage, and journal writing, we will explore how the creative arts can provide opportunities to understand the complex nature of eating disorders. We will focus on how eating disorders tells a story; a narrative that uncovers a rich and layered timeline of cultural, familial, individual, and symbolic facets, and how knowing and understanding this story can help facilitate healing.

Learning Objectives
    1. Participants will learn about eating disorders from a biopsychosocial-spiritual perspective.
    2. Participants will gain an introductory understanding of how to use expressive arts therapy tools with clients who have eating disorders appropriately. This includes how when to use expressive arts therapy, how to set up the space, choose tools and materials, and provide a safe environment in which to create.
    3. Participants will engage in hands-on learning with art modalities, including visual, tactile, movement, and writing. Through this engagement, participants will gain an experiential understanding of approach, intention, and process.
    4. Participants will learn how to process the art-making appropriately through therapeutic dialogue, and using additional arts modalities.

This workshop offers 6 CEs for Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Social Workers.

The Art of Empathy: Bringing the Expressive Arts to School

This introductory course is specifically designed for classroom teachers, school counselors, and mental health professionals working in schools. The class provides participants with knowledge and tools to use expressive arts as avenues for supporting students’ social/emotional growth and awareness. Creative projects aligned with the National Common Core Arts Standards lead students to explore emotional knowledge of self and serve as a path for growing empathy toward others.

This unique course includes visual arts and story theater techniques for whole group and
individual expressive arts projects, and many suggestions for students’ self-reflection. Practices used to guide students through their own process of creativity and self-expression will be introduced during hands-on activities. Openings for engaging empathy will be explored. Participants will explore expressive arts as creative problem-solving tools, as mediums for creating safe, inclusive learning environments, and inspiring community for all learners.

Learning Objectives
    1. Participants will develop expressive arts tools that can be utilized with students and/or clients to foster social and emotional growth.
    2. Participants will learn tools and techniques to guide students and/or clients to reflect on their own work and the work of others with empathy and compassion.
    3. Participants will create specific art projects that can be used at their worksite which align with WA State Common Core Arts Standards and/or meet identified therapeutic goals.
    4. Participants will explain the language and processes of various expressive arts modalities including story theater, collage, poetry, 3D assemblage, and group mandala.

This workshop offers 6 CEs for Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Social Workers.

The Art of Self-Care: for Educators

Through the lens of Social and Emotional Learning Standards (SELS) for adults, we are offering an opportunity to learn about how self-care benefits the individual as well as the community.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how to recognize signs of stress and compassion fatigue and find ways to mitigate these in your personal and professional life.
  • Learn how to create your path to better, sustainable, more compassionate self-care.
  • Focus on strengths-based AND values-based self-care: learn how to use your strengths and what you value most to guide your self-care.
  • Make a self-care plan -that you can actually use- going forward.
  • Learn how to be an Ambassador of Self-Care in your building.
  • This workshop will highlight aspects of the following standards for SEL for Adults:
      • Standard 1: Self-awareness
      • Standard 2: Self-management
      • Standard 3: Self-efficacy
      • Standard 4: Social Awareness
      • Standard 5: Social Management
      • Standard 6: Social Engagement
Breathe. Create. Repeat. An Exploration of Contemplative & Expressive Arts Practices

Join us as we blend contemplative practices with the expressive arts. Explore how contemplative practices support creative expression and how to be in the creative process with curiosity and self-reflection.

The integration of breathing and meditation with the expressive arts is truly harmonious. This workshop overviews the benefits of each, some guideposts for practice, as well as experiential activities that follow a path from awareness to expression to insight.

No prior experience with contemplative or expressive arts is necessary.

Basic art supplies are suggested: Mixed media paper, drawing media such as colored pencils, pastels, markers, and water colors.

Clay & Story

Creating stories and sculpting with clay are complementary processes that call upon deep reflection and the courage to express.  Together they form a bond in a spiritual practice. This experiential workshop includes meditation, clay sculpting, journaling, movement, and embodied storytelling.  The clay can be returned to the earth or fired in a kiln; the story is released, honed, and shared.

Objectives:  In an emergent learning environment, students will learn to:

  • Apply the concepts of phenomenological and embodied learning
  • Create a clay piece and a written story that can be seen and explored in order to clarify the lived experience
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how meditation, clay work, journaling, movement, and story can enhance self-knowledge

Description of processes: 

The workshop begins with meditation. Participants then sit with the clay and slowly move to sculpting. After the clay work, movement follows as participants explore the emotions that arise and embody the feelings as they move, in a guided process that focuses on spontaneity and attunement.  This is followed by time to journal.

The story evolves from experiencing the clay work and the process of reflection.  Stories are shared, the clay is revisited as the workshop concludes.

This workshop offers 6 CEs for Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Social Workers.

Creative Journal Writing for Clinical Practice

The benefits of journal writing are many. Support in recovery, stress reduction, working with anxiety, depression, trauma, and eating disorders, to name a few. Journal writing increases self-awareness and the development of inner resources. It can also play support resilience, creativity, and increased focus. This workshop offers hands-on activities to explore bringing creative journal writing into your life and your work with clients.

Creative Journal Writing blends writing techniques with other creative arts modalities to offer a powerful, multi-modality approach.

This workshop will present various journal writing approaches and techniques. The four modes of expression: free intuitive, description, catharsis, and reflection set the stage for exploring various techniques such as alternate point of view, unsent letters, dialogue, and time-lines. This workshop will also present the techniques of Pennebaker’s Expressive Writing, as well as Metcalf’s Proprioceptive Writing.

We’ll use poetry, collage, and drawing to bring an integrated arts perspective to journal writing.

We will explore how adding color to your blank journal pages can help start your flow of emotions, thoughts and ideas. There is a magic to even simple washes, lines, and blocks of color that can help the journal writer overcome writer’s block and break the fear of the blank page.

This workshop offers 6 CEs for Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Social Workers.

Cultivating Radical Acceptance Through Artmaking, Improvisation and Storytelling

This is a workshop about Radical Acceptance, a part of the canon of Mindfulness approaches. Through activities such as Guided Meditation, Artmaking, Movement, Journal Writing, Poetry, and Improvisation we will create opportunities for Story building, and Storytelling in a creative, supportive, collaborative space.

Some of the activities we will engage in:

  • Exploring core beliefs about “belovedness”~a sense of belonging nurtured by the actions of loving. We will engage in artmaking around the symbol one has, to represent the desired sense of being beloved.
  • Journal writing and group poem exploring the without the basic barriers to feeling a sense of balance.
  • We will introduce concept of “Aimless Wandering”. This Mindful approach encourages acceptance of a new possibility, as you follow where your body leads and go on an aimless wandering adventure.
  • We will engage in improv games such as “Change of Mind” and introduce “Travel Mishaps” as we look at humor in service of Radical Acceptance.
  • We will also work with Trauma Informed Drama Therapy as an approach to mitigate suffering.


Drama Therapy Toolbox: Distress Tolerance & Embodiment

The workshop utilizes Creative Arts Therapies, particularly Drama Therapy, paired with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills for distress tolerance.  One of the central purposes of the workshop is to introduce embodied activities that reinforce mindfulness and distress tolerance concepts and skills. Support material from Daniel Wiener’s work, “Rehearsals for Growth” highlight the value of behavior rehearsal in making change.

This session provides a good foundation for understanding the theories involved in mitigating distress as it provides cooperative learning experiences to reinforce the ideas presented.  It will make clear how DBT and the Rehearsals for Growth approaches complement each other are appropriate for a wide range of clients, including those who are working with chemical dependency issues.

Learning Objectives 

1. Participants will come away with working knowledge of the potential for drama therapy, as an expressive arts modality in their clinical work, including introductory drama therapy tools that can be utilized immediately.

2. Participants will learn how and what drama therapy tools can be utilized with groups, as well as with individuals. How and when to appropriately choose what tools will also be discussed.

3. Participants will learn about Emunah’s 5-phase model that, in part, explores self-concept and identity through role-play, creating dramatic play that confronts real-life situations, indentifying patterns, and increasing self-compassion and empathy.

This workshop offers 6 CEs for Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Social Workers.

Dreamwork and Dream-Arts: Healing, Creativity, and Personal Growth

Dreamwork and Dream-Arts are helpful doorways to individual and group creativity, which leads to healing and personal growth. This workshop offers various methods of dreamwork and creative dream expression for both individual and group work. Lecture and discussion will lead to experiential group and individual activities. Bring your dream journal if you have one. Together we will cultivate a respectful space for creative dream exploration, and you will gain valuable new tools for your practice. Background for Dreamwork and Dream-Arts includes Kilton Stewart’s Senoi Dream Theory, Montague Ullman’s Appreciating Dreams group method (aka The Ullman Method), Fritz Perls’ Gestalt Dreamwork, Gayle Delaney’s Dream Interview Method, Wilma Scategni’s Dream Psychodrama, and Angel Morgan’s Dream-Bridging Method with Dream-Arts.

We offer three consecutive levels which culminate in earning a Dream-Arts Certificate. Level I: Beginning; Level II: Intermediate; and Level III: Advanced. Each workshop is a requisite for the following level.

Learning Objectives

  1. Discuss the healing power of dream sharing cross-culturally.
  2. Utilize a variety of methods for individual dreamwork.
  3. Utilize a variety of methods for group dreamwork.
  4. Identify the dream language of individual dreamers.
  5. Create Dream-Arts through the process of Dream-Bridging.
  6. Explain how Gestalt psychology, Dream Psychodrama, and Improvisational Dream Theater can intersect to help dreamers find insight, healing, and wholeness.
Ethics of Self-Care: an Art Based Approach

Our signature workshop!

This workshop explores our relationship to daily stressors (e.g., work, home, school, etc.), the impact they have (e.g., physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual), and the ethical responsibilities of self-care faced by mental health clinicians. It is designed to illuminate the various types of stress experienced by mental health providers, and to demystify the concepts and applications of “self-care”. Topics will include: stress management, work/life balance, vicarious stress, secondary trauma, counter-transference, compassion fatigue, and occupational burnout. These areas will be examined through the hands-on application of creative and expressive arts, offering practical exercises for mental health clinicians to apply to their personal self-care routines.

Learning Objectives
    1. Participants will have an understanding of the ethical responsibilities of self-care and stress-management
    2. Participants will learn about the different types of stress and the impact on professional and personal health
    3. Participants will learn practical applications of self-care
    4. Participants will engage in hands-on creative arts activities to process didactic material

This workshop offers 6 CEs in ethics for Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Social Workers.

Expressive Arts Therapy and Mindfulness

This workshop will explore how mindfulness can be cultivated through an Expressive Arts Therapy approach.

Expressive Arts Therapy utilizes a multi-arts approach that focuses on the creative process and art-making combining the visual arts, movement, drama, music, and writing to foster deep personal growth and community development.

In this workshop, there will be a focus on visual, writing, and movement modalities, as well as mindfulness meditation.

Participants will have hands-on opportunities to experience how to work with arts modalities and mindfulness, as well as seminar-style discussions to refine their understanding and work on direct clinical application issues.

Learning Objectives
    1. Participants will gain an understanding of how and why the expressive arts and mindfulness can work together.
    2. Participants will gain working knowledge of how to integrate the expressive arts and mindfulness, and how to safely put this into clinical practice.
    3. Participants will engage in visual, writing, movement, and meditation experiential exercises to gain a deeper understanding of the integration between expressive arts modalities and mindfulness both personally, and professionally.
    4. Participants will learn basic, person-centered approaches to foster the integration of expressive arts and mindfulness in clinical practice.

This workshop offers 6 CEs for Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Social Workers.

Expressive Arts Toolbox: Using Visual and Writing Modalities in Individual Practice

here is therapeutic value to be found in laughter.  When it is used as a tool for well-being, humor can bring people together, warm the process of discovery, and provide access to deeper, more transformative exploration.

Guided by a theoretical perspective that combines Polyvagal Theory with embodiment practices found in Drama Therapy, these sessions will lead participants through an expanding and informative workshop.

Course Activities

  • Background Exploration: A glossary of relevant terms and a review of pertinent literature
  • Therapeutic Improvisation: Bringing spontaneity grounded in aesthetic distance: the essence of humor as a tool
  • Storytelling: Utilizing both fictional and autobiographical stories to open and reveal issues that may not be available to the client, aiding in breaking with expectations, extracting and bolstering the exceptional narrative
  • Artmaking: Offering enhancement and a sense of containment to matters that are difficult to find words for.

This workshop offers 6 CEs for Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Social Workers.

Humor and Healing: A Key to Well Being

This hands-on workshop offers the participant some simple, yet powerful expressive arts tools for your youth to adult age clients. After attending this workshop, participants will be able to go right into the office and use suggested materials and activities with confidence.

The Expressive Arts can be used to enhance your existing your skills, whether problem-focused, action-oriented, or process-oriented. Expressive Arts Therapy utilizes a multi-arts approach that focuses not only on the product, but the process of creativity and art-making.

The tools presented in this workshop are designed so that even with limited resources and space a clinician can have a variety options.

Learning objectives
    1. Participants will take away working knowledge of Expressive Arts Therapy, including: how expressive arts therapy is defined, the general philosophy and approach.
    2. Participants will be offered a primer on the use of basic art materials, and how to choose appropriate materials.
    3. Hands-on experiential learning will offer participants immediate working knowledge of simple expressive arts activities that they can use with their clients right away.
    4. Participants will learn how to work with a multi-modal arts approach.
    5. Participants will have an understanding of how and when to use expressive arts activities appropriately with their clients, to enhance their skills.

This workshop offers 6 CEs for Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Social Workers.

Little Wilds: Dollmaking in Expressive Arts Therapy

The creation and use of dolls in Expressive Arts Therapy offers rich healing prospects. The opportunity to create a tangible representation of self and/or others has therapeutic applications including processing grief, reviewing childhood experiences, identity construction, attachment issues, and complex trauma, to name a few. Bringing the doll into form or “being” is a creative process that brings together so much of what is available in the expressive arts approach: the visual and tactile; working with metaphor and symbolism; play, storytelling, and enactment.

In this workshop participants will engage in a simple, hands-on process and learn to turn a few basic supplies into soft sculpture doll creations.

Through an open and free creative process, you will discover the many characters just waiting to “be born” through your hands and imagination.

This process can easily be taught to children grades 3 and up but is not just for children! No art-making experience is necessary!


  1. Learn how the Expressive Arts process supports psychological safety and creative freedom.
  2. Learn a simple, hands-on process to create dolls with basic materials.
  3. Engage in meaningful personal narrative process to bring your doll to “life” and tell its story.
  4. Learn how the creation of dolls can be of value in a variety of therapeutic contexts (includes resource list).
Narrative Expressive Arts Therapy

This class introduces participants to Narrative Expressive Arts Therapy, an integration of Narrative Therapy & multimodal Expressive Arts Therapy. Shoshana Simons, Program Chair of the Expressive Arts Therapy Program at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco, has been developing the approach in collaboration with peers and students for over a decade.

Narrative Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy are kindred approaches, each rooted in the spirit of creativity, empowerment and transformation.  In this approach, metaphor is used as the “portal of transformation” through which people are enabled to more deeply inhabit the rich texture and territory of their lived experience.  Narrative Expressive Arts Therapists move beyond words, collaborating with clients on the journey towards the illustration, vocalization, movement, articulation and performance of preferred, empowering self, familial and collective narratives.

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn the “nuts and bolts” of narrative therapy through an expressive arts lens
  2. Deepen awareness of how socio-cultural & systemic factors impact the therapeutic relationship
  3. Learn how to integrate narrative expressive arts practices into building collaborative relationships with clients
  4. Learn how somatic awareness can be integrated into narrative expressive arts therapy
  5. Learn how narrative expressive arts therapy can be used with individuals, couples, families, groups and communities
  6. Learn about arts-based witnessing practices that bridge narrative and expressive arts therapies.

This workshop offers 6 CEs for Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Social Workers.

Personal Myths: Unpacking Inherited Stories

In this workshop, learners will explore some of the stories and world views held by their ancestors that they have consciously and unconsciously woven into the fabric of their life.

Some of these stories are healthy and others, when lived into, are out of alignment with the authentic self. In this safe space, learners will come to discover an Ally or guide; they may be human or animal.

The ally will be a source of support as they unpack these stories and learn tools to let go of those that are no longer serving them.

Learners Will:

  • Find their ally – create a visual expression of this inner source of support.
  • Discover the stories they carry from those who have come before
    • Explore themes that emerge
    • Unpack how the different sides of one’s family lives into the same themes
    • Unpack how the different sides of one’s family lives into different themes
    • Explore how these myths show up in their life
    • Which myths are supportive
      • Are these a part of the learner’s worldview? Why or why not?
    • Which are maladaptive?
      • Have they taken these on? If so, how might they change the narrative?

This workshop offers 6 CEs for Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Social Workers.

Sacred Sounding: Embracing Our Authentic Voice

Each person has a one-of-a-kind voice: a “soul-song” that is unique and individual.  When we tap into this sacred vessel and listen with acceptance, a healing takes place and a sense of peace is discovered. Having a voice, is a powerful resource that many are uncomfortable using. Not being able to use one’s voice, for whatever reason, can result in feeling unheard, invisible or devalued. How can we support others to find their true voice? How is the voice linked to our own health and well-being? Using various techniques and exercises incorporating movement, art, sound, music, drama and meditation, we will gently explore our relationship to our own “authentic voice”.

The presenter will demonstrate how the voice can be used therapeutically with groups, individuals and clients of all ages and the powerful art of truly listening to ourselves and others. Discussions and resources will be provided regarding which populations and clinical issues would most benefit from voicework. The presenter will also share some of her experiences working with clients using “authentic voice”, how to move into painting, movement and other processes to gain additional insight around issues with the voice, and how the voice is linked to one’s personal power.

The 6-hour workshop and training will be conducted in a person-centered approach, providing a safe, accepting environment for the attendees to participate at the level they are comfortable with. The workshop will be both didactic and experiential. Creating an accepting, safe environment, participants will explore what it means to be fully heard in community.

This workshop offers 6 CEsfor Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Social Workers.

Songs of the Spirit: Navigating Anxiety with Music

The current pandemic has taken a significant toll on the mental health of many. It may just be that anxiety is the natural response to challenges of our day. While it is understandable how we got here, managing that anxiety is necessary for mental, physical, and emotional wellness. Mental health clinicians are on the front lines of addressing these challenges.  This workshop will look at the impact of anxiety on our lives, with challenges that range from general stress and anxiety to panic attacks. We will highlight and explore the role music can play in addressing some of these challenges.

Tarot and Therapy: Exploring Intuition and Metaphor

Why is Tarot so popular right now?  Are your clients coming in talking about the card they pulled before the session, and you have no idea what that means? Have you used Tarot for years for own well-being and would love to use it with mental health clients but not sure how?

Most clients come into therapy saying that do not have access to their intuition and are not sure how to trust what the right choices are to make in their lives. Using a single card pulled from a tarot deck and exploring it’s meaning, clients can begin to feel connected to their own sense of self, find new ways to safely explore difficult experiences, and find ways to feel grounded again.

Starting with the Jungian concept of Archetypes, we will look at how the collective sense of self is represented within these twelve types of being.  We will then explore the history and uses of Tarot.  These seventy-eight cards have been used for hundreds of years.  Using the Rider-Waite-Smith deck from 1909 as a starting place, we will look at many of the decks available today and why people turn to them every day or when times get difficult.

We will explore intuition and how to trust our own sense of knowing. In this hands-on workshop, you will make at least six of your own cards.  Exploring the major arcana, and the suits of cups, pentacles, swords, and wands we will learn about the journey in each of these sets.

  • Make at least 6 of your own tarot cards
  • Explore how are clients in active trauma find ways to make meaning.
  • Understand when the use of tarot is and is not appropriate to use with clients.
  • Learn why the creative process soothes the body and the mind.
  • Find materials you will be comfortable using with your clients.
  • Use art making for your own self-care.
Trauma and the Moving Body: Tending to Our Clients and Ourselves

A two-day workshop collaboration with First Aid Arts presenting Amber Gray.

Those of us who steward the restorative process for survivors of trauma are exposed to stories, histories, and emotions that impact our own well-being and worldview. In tending to others, our own hearts encounter suffering and fear. Current neuropsychiatric research suggests that human beings are soft-wired for empathy, which connects us, and increases our risk for vicarious trauma. Research supports contemplative practices and physical activity as fundamental to well-being. The body, and movement provide the most direct access to change that promotes well-being. 

This 15-hour course provides theoretical, scientific, and contemplative rationale for the use of somatic psychotherapy (body, dance and movement-based practices) with traumatized clients, and as a measure of protection, self-care, and increased compassion. This playshop provides participants with a practical introduction and overview to using body, dance and movement-based therapy in work with survivors of trauma, as well as for our own resilience and well-being.

This course is suitable for mental health professionals, somatic or movement practitioners, or any helping professional interested in using expressive arts methods for working with trauma. No experience in Dance Movement Therapy or Somatic Psychotherapy is required. This course has been approved for 2 credits of Alternate Route DMT, and mental health CEs across the US.

Bio:  Amber is a pioneer in the use of Dance Movement Therapy and Somatic Psychology with survivors of trauma, particularly torture, war and human rights abuses. She is an ADTA Outstanding Achievement Award recipient; a recent nominee for The Barbara Chester Human Rights award, and featured expert on torture treatment through Tulane University’s Institute of Traumatology.

Amber’s expertise is represented in many published articles, chapters, keynote addresses, professional collaborations and presentations around the world. Amber has provided clinical training on the integration of refugee mental health and torture treatment with creative arts, mindfulness, and body-based therapies to more than 30 programs worldwide, since the 1990’s. 

She originated a resiliency-based framework and clinical approach (Restorative Movement Psychotherapy) for somatic, mindfulness, movement and arts-based therapies with survivors of trauma in cross cultural, low resource contexts. Her two most recent publications, one co-authored with Dr. Stephen Porges, are based on their co-collaborated Polyvagal informed dance movement therapy.

Learning Objectives
  1. Define reciprocal alliance and its relationship to client empowerment.
  2. Have tools to use DMT as a self care, self-regulating and protective practice when working with survivors of trauma (especially relational trauma).
  3. Have an introductory understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of the Poto Mitan (Center Post) DMT-based Trauma & Resiliency (“CPF”) theoretical framework.
  4. Describe the primary portals to embodiment of Restorative Movement Psychotherapy and Polyvagal-informed DMT  and their relationship to self and co-regulation.
  5. Acquire at least 6 dance, body, movement, creative art or sound based stabilization methods to self and co-regulate in work with survivors of trauma

See our Upcoming Workshop Dates

    Northwest Creative & Expressive Arts Institute is a NBCC Approved Continuing Education Provider ™, ACEP No. 7014.

Please note that we are located in an historical building in downtown Seattle. While there is a ramp that leads to our studio, it may not be suitable for everyone. An ADA bathroom is located in the cafe next door,  in our sister building.

If you have have accommodation needs, please call or email us in advance so we can discuss your needs.