Polyvagal-Focused and Sensorimotor Expressive Arts Therapy: Repairing Traumatic Stress and Restoring the Self

After October 2, 2020, regular registration $299; Taught by Cathy Malchiodi, PhD and Elizabeth Warson, PhD. Live Webinar Series on Advanced Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy | taught by Cathy Malchiodi, PhD
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Cathy Malchiodi, PhD
Cathy Malchiodi, PhD
Founder and Executive Director at the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute

About the Instructor

Cathy A. Malchiodi, PhD, ATR-BC, LPCC, LPAT, REAT, is a psychologist, expressive arts therapist, and art therapist specializing in trauma recovery. 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 presentations in the US, Canada, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Australia. She has numerous published books, chapters, and articles in the field of art therapy including Trauma and Expressive Arts Therapy: Brain, Body and Imagination in the Healing Process, Creative Interventions with Traumatized Children, Breaking the Silence: Working With Traumatized Children, and Understanding Children's Drawings, which are standards in the field. She has trained thousands of counselors, psychotherapists, medical personnel, and educators throughout the United States, Canada, Asia, and Europe. In 2011, Cathy founded the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute to meet the need for professional education in the use of expressive arts therapy, mind-body approaches and resilience-building in trauma integration and recovery for children, adults and families. 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 a following of 5 million readers.

Elizabeth Warson PhD, ATR-BC, LPC, NCC, EMDR (Comanche) is the Executive Director of American Indian Art Therapy, based on her faculty research associated with the Graduate Art Therapy Programs at George Washington University and Eastern Virginia Medical School. As a clinician, she has 20 years of post-graduate experience in a variety of settings, including medical hospitals, dialysis centers, residential treatment centers, correctional facilities, and private practice. Since 2003, her research interests include culturally responsive stress reduction and trauma-informed interventions. Dr. Warson is a recipient of a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts (folk and traditional art) for a community-driven Coharie Heritage Empowerment Project, focusing on cultural preservation. Dr. Warson has presented at regional and national American Indian and Alaska Native conferences on topics related to medical art therapy, stress and pain reduction interventions, culturally-responsive art therapy, visual journaling interventions, and narrative-based art therapy. Her publications comprise over 20 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters in books. As a professional artist, she has exhibited her sculptural work nationally and internationally and is a recipient of an Ohio Arts Council fellowship award.

We continually update our live webinar course content with readings, resources and links to relevant material. This live webinar course is given in a "drip format"-- each week you will have access to a new set of materials as we proceed through the topic, session by session. 

This course includes a Certificate of Completion for Polyvagal-Focused and Sensorimotor Expressive Arts Therapy for 18 hours of Continuing Education/Professional Development-- see information below.

Course Meeting Dates:

October 8

October 15

October 22

October 29

November 5

All meetings are held from 12 noon- 3 pm, Eastern Time/New York Time; since we have participants from around the world, please be sure to check your time zone. 


Polyvagal theory is now informing the principles and practices of trauma-informed work. Stephen Porges is the researcher best known for identifying polyvagal theory; his studies and contributions have greatly expanded the understanding of how we sense and experience safety, self-regulation, attachment, and connection. 

Sensorimotor, sensory integration and body-awareness approaches are also now accepted strategies to address traumatic stress. The majority of these sensory-based approaches are derived from healing practices found in various forms of reparative and restorative expression-- often through movement, rhythm, sound, music, image making, and enactment. 

Most of the current polyvagal exercises and directives for trauma relief ask individuals to think about or imagine various vagal states or conditions for social engagement. While this may work well for some people, starting with cognition is not always the best place to start when restoring the self, post-trauma. Imagination, a mostly cognitive function, is not immediately or easily accessible for those most traumatized. In many cases, imagination and a sense of playfulness has been lost or diminished due to distress, anxiety, or dissociation.  

Expressive arts therapy and expressive strategies [movement, rhythm, sound, music, enactment, and image=making] capitalize on a "bottom-up" framework that begins with the senses. These strategies gradually reintroduce the experiences of play, creativity, and aliveness necessary to reparative and restorative imagination. These sensory-based approaches also provide a foundation for the "talk" that may have been shutdown due to traumatic stress. 

We designed this course to not only highlight these principles and practices, but also to demonstrate how expressive arts therapy and expressive methods expand and enhance polyvagal-focused and sensorimotor, sensory integration, and body-awareness approaches. To help participants learn and apply this material, each session includes didactic, informational presentations and at least one hour of experiential, hands-on time with methods and strategies. These action-oriented, sensory-based methods and strategies can be applied to work with individuals of all ages as well as families, groups, and communities. 


Continuing Education Information

Counselors/National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6557. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC are clearly identified. Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs. 

Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute is an Approved Continuing Education Provider by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. Our Texas Provider Number is 2318.

Art Therapy Credentials Board [ATCB]. The ATCB recognizes a variety of CEC activities, including those in the areas of professional and mental health counseling. These activities are clearly outlined in their recertification standards provided to all ATR-BCs in their recertification year and on their website. A minimum of six CECs must be earned in the area of ethics each cycle. If you are licensed as an art therapist in your state, please check with your state board to verify what types of CEC activities are acceptable for license renewal.

California Marriage and Family Therapists, Social Workers and Professional Counselors. As of July 1, 2015, the State of California /Board of Behavioral Sciences [BBS] amended its regulations for continuing education providers to include National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) as a "board-recognized approval agency." If you are licensed as a marriage and family therapist, social worker, educational psychologist or professional clinical counselor in California, NBCC Approved Continuing Education Providers are recognized by the BBS to fulfill continuing education requirements. As of July 1, 2015, required CE hours can be accumulated through self-study and distance learning. 

Course Contents

1 Video
1 Survey
2 Multimedia
18 Texts
2 PDFs
3 Downloads
18.0 hrs

Course Curriculum

Session Five: Advanced Polyvagal-Focused Expressive Arts Therapy Approaches: Chronic Trauma and Related Issues
Final Steps to Your Certificate for Polyvagal-Focused and Sensorimotor Expressive Arts Therapy