medical social emotional arts (medsea) training program

MEDSEA Logo_WebOur Medical Social Emotional Arts (MedSEA) training program offers activities that integrate mental health practices with the innate social emotional benefits of art, movement, music, and writing. The activities are designed for all ages and populations, with dual benefits for facilitators.

MedSEA is intended to help:

  • Create rapport and connection
  • Evoke positive emotions and bolster resilience
  • Empower patients in managing stress and pain
  • Facilitate verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Strengthen the creative vs. illness narrative
  • Manage grief and loss

The core of the MedSEA curriculum includes general guidelines on the use of creative arts in therapeutic contexts, communication techniques for creating rapport and preventing resistance, and containment techniques for managing stress responses. This is followed by four modules of art, movement, music, and writing/poetry. There are several activities in each module that will be taught through experiential learning and role play.medsea-training_image-poem-exercise_example-2

The MedSEA program is designed for practicality; for example, the arts modules accommodate less or more time with participants and are designed on the assumption of little or no supplies being available. This enables sustainable delivery by care providers or educators in places with limited resources, such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, shelters, and community clinics.

The curriculum materials are laid out in a user-friendly, scripted format for easy facilitation. All activities include instructions for adaptation to different age groups, disabilities, and families. Individuals may also do the activities on their own.


Our MedSEA program was originally designed to contribute toward the Quadruple Aim of health systems: to improve population health, to enhance the patient experience of care, to reduce per capita health care spending, and to improve the work life of health care providers.

The MedSEA curriculum is also useful for other settings (e.g., nursing homes, schools, other community-based organizations) and with other populations (e.g., veterans, people in substance abuse rehab centers, domestic violence shelters).

medsea-training_tissue-touch-exerciseCreative expression is a window to the soul that enables supportive patient and family engagement, without the expense or stigma of therapy. It allows issues to be brought up in a way that feels organic and safe. Moreover, the arts can uniquely enhance positive emotions and not just reduce negative ones. Rigorous studies of the arts used in healing contexts show biological evidence of stress reduction.  And studies have shown that creative arts therapies used with cancer patients are beneficial for reducing anxiety, depression and pain, and improving quality of life.


The curriculum and training were designed by a team of leading creative arts therapists (board certified and/or registered mental health professionals with dual training in the arts) and informed with input from an array of UCLA departments, such as Alzheimer’s/dementia, child psychiatry, neuro-oncology, nursing education, and spiritual care.

Since Spring 2016, we have trained first-year medical students at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, which has enabled them to serve patients with brain tumor, stroke, and traumatic brain injury at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. We have also trained UCLA undergraduates, who have been volunteering with homeless veterans and teens through the student-run UCLA Creative Minds Project, with which we partner.

We have also trained a team of 35 mental health professionals affiliated with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Older Adult Services, who are using the MedSEA tools during their home visits with older adults.

become a medsea facilitator

Our two-day fall training will take place over the weekend of 11/4-11/5. For more information on this session, click here.


From Trainees
“So good. Very interactive and engaging.” – UCLA student trainee

“Fun . . . [and] learned how to approach more difficult patients.” – UCLA student trainee

From Recipients after a MedSEA-Facilitator Session

“Loved it!” – UCLA hospital patient

“It was a pleasant distraction from the usual day. Thank you!”– UCLA hospital patient

teaching faculty

Lori Baudino, PhD, BC-DMT is a practicing clinical psychologist and board-certified dance movement therapist. which identifies symptoms and creates ways to express psychological and emotional experiences through the mind/body connection, ultimately transforming words into action. Through The Andrea Rizzo Foundation, Dr. Baudino brought the first Dance/Movement Therapy Programs to UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital and CHLA, where she provides bedside therapy to children with cancer, special needs and terminal illness. Dr. Baudino has specialized in supervising, facilitating and providing treatment for children with special needs and their families. She has worked in psychiatric hospitals and at rehabilitation centers for trauma, addiction and pain management. Dr. Baudino worked as the coordinator for Behavior Intervention Programs within the home/school setting. Currently, Dr. Baudino runs group therapy sessions at Paradigm Malibu Adolescent Treatment Center. In her private practice, Dr. Lori Baudino works with children of all ages and their families, to support the developing child and the integral relationships between parent, child and siblings.

Kathy Cass MA, BC-DMT, NCC, CYT, E-RYT, 500 is a board certified dance/movement therapist, nationally certified counselor, and a certified yoga therapist with over 25 years of instructional and clinical experience with a variety of populations. She has expertise as a long standing director of a non-profit therapeutic dance/yoga organization called Chance to Dance, serving persons of all ages and abilities, and as a movement/yoga consultant for numerous institutions and individuals. This organization continues under the direction of Kathy’s protégé, under the new name Dance for All. Kathy served three years, one, as head of the national BC-DMT panel of the Dance/Movement Therapy Certification Board. She has been a guest lecturer at Scripps College, Center for Movement Education and Research at Loyola Marymount University, UCLA and Los Angeles Chapter of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Kathy is currently a part-time faculty member at Santa Monica College Emeritus Division, El Camino Community College and Center for Movement Education and Research. She has been an Advisory Board Member for California State University, Fullerton, Extended Education in Expressive Arts Therapies. She also maintains a private Yoga Therapy /Ayurveda Life Skills practice in Santa Monica, CA. On the side, she has worked as a consultant for Pacific Resident Theater, Salty Shakespeare Company, and various actors around town, doing choreography, musical staging, and character movement.

Erica Curtis, LMFT, ATR-BC is a practitioner, writer, consultant, and educator in the fields of art therapy and marriage and family therapy. A Board Certified Art Therapy and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Erica has over 15 years of experience and education in an integrative approach to health and well-being. Erica is the admissions consultant at the Loyola Marymount University Department of Marriage and Family Therapy with a specialization in art therapy, and has a therapy practice in San Juan Capistrano where she works with children, adults, and families. She served multiple terms on the board of directors of the American Art Therapy Association and is past president of the Southern California Art Therapy Association. Erica was formerly clinical director at the Help Group, a respected Los Angeles non-profit agency and has lectured widely for institutions and organizations including UCSD, USC, UCLA, and Kaiser Permanente. Erica has been used as an expert for articles appearing in USA Today, Boston Globe, Elle, Lifehacker, EHow Family, Shine from Yahoo!, and Women’s World Magazine, to name a few. She also appears on the award-winning parenting resource, She has written several articles for Lifespan Learning, Special Education Advisor, and the Foundation for Art and Healing and is published in the Journal of Clinical Art Therapy. Erica is currently writing a book about using art promote connection, emotional health, and academic success in children.

Vanya Green, MA, LPCC, MT-BC is a board-certified music therapist and licensed professional clinical counselor who specializes in working with people coping with stress, pain, and disease. She has a private practice in the San Fernando Valley and works with groups, individuals and in the community. Ms. Green combines a strengths-based and mindfulness-based approach to her work—helping people tap into their innate creativity to promote relaxation and emotional expression. She has received various honors for her scholarship, research and musicianship including a Fulbright Fellowship, Susan Eliakim Siman Grant, New York University Scholarship, Justice Louis D. Brandeis Scholarship and American Friends of Flamenco Scholarship. Ms. Green helped establish the inaugural music therapy program at UCLA Medical Center, has been a member of the UCLA Pediatric Pain Program since 2007, and is on the advisory board of the Children’s Music Fund. She has a Master’s Degree from New York University in Music Therapy and a Bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University in Neuro-anthropology and Latin American Studies.  She has presented workshops and authored publications (Oxford University Press, 2011) on music therapy and the neurobiological processes involved in pain, music perception and emotions in the United States and internationally. In addition to her clinical work as a therapist, she performs world music and facilitates community music sessions blending sacred, traditional and contemporary global music.

Ping Ho, MA, MPH is Founding Director of UCLArts & Healing, which transforms lives through creative expression for self-discovery, connection, and empowerment.  UCLArts & Healing is an organizational member of the UCLA Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine, of which Ping is a Steering Committee Member and was the founding administrator. She was also the founding administrator for the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), which led to the privilege of writing for Norman Cousins and co-writing the professional autobiography of George F. Solomon, M.D., founder of the field of PNI. In addition, Ping has an extensive background as a health educator and performing artist. She has a BA in psychology with honors from Stanford University—where she was appointed to spearhead the still-thriving Health Improvement Program for faculty and staff, an MA in counseling psychology with specialization in exercise physiology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MPH in Community Health Sciences from UCLA School of Public Health. Ping serves on the Council of Advisers for the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care, a national network of educational organizations and agencies in complementary and alternative medicine.  Ping is a co-developer of the program, Beat the Odds: Social and Emotional Skill Building Delivered in a Framework of Drumming, which has been successfully delivered by personnel in many schools and community organizations, and was principal investigator of the study (published in the top integrative medicine journal, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine) upon which the program is based. In addition, Ping developed the UCLArts & Healing Social Emotional Arts Certificate Program to empower anyone in the design, delivery, and evaluation of effective arts-based programs that maximize social and emotional benefits.

Karen Howard, RMT, CEAP is a registered music therapist and founder of Music & Expressive Therapy Associates (META), which uses expressive and creative arts to strengthen life skills and functioning, enables the experience of the fullness of life, elicits insight and awareness for decisions and choices, and enhances the potential for joy and a sense of community. She works with a wide range of populations, including those with special needs (particularly autism), those in drug rehabilitation and residential treatment centers, women, and individuals seeking personal growth opportunities. Ms. Howard was part of the Emmy award-winning HBO documentary Autism: The Musical, which featured her song “Everyday Miracles” and has collaborated on over 20 original musicals for children and teens on the autism spectrum. Ms. Howard has facilitated performances with The Miracle Project in Los Angeles, at the United Nations, with Autism Speaks, HollyRod Foundation, HBO, and Autism On The Seas. In 2011, Ms. Howard traveled with The Miracle Project to India as a co-facilitator for training of parents, educators, and therapists for individuals with autism. Ms. Howard has degrees in Music Therapy, Piano Performance, Psychology, and a Teaching Credential. She is certified as an Autism Movement Therapy provider and has an advanced certification as an Expressive Arts Practitioner. She has been a Registered Music Therapist for 30+ years. She has been a private piano instructor for over 30 years and is on the Board of Directors for Spectrum Laboratory, a new nonprofit organization that assists teens and young adults in creating music videos, CDs, film, and acting vignettes with the help and collaboration of professionals in the field.

Gabrielle Kaufman, MA, LPCC, BC-DMT, NCC is a board-certified dance/movement therapist and counselor with over 20 years experience in the helping profession. Currently, she is director of Training and Technical Assistance for the Los Angeles County Perinatal Mental Health Task Force. Prior to this, she served as director of the New Moms Connect Program of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles providing services to new parents, particularly those suffering from symptoms of postpartum depression. Gabrielle has worked extensively with new families and aided in providing solutions to many parenting concerns. She has run several programs for high-risk children and teens, taught classes to parents of newborns and toddlers, and runs support groups for single parents and women with postpartum depression. Gabrielle has spoken widely, published articles on parenting, and served as editor for Bringing Light To Motherhood. She serves as Los Angeles coordinator for Postpartum Support International also has a private practice in Los Angeles providing services in both English and Spanish languages.

Myriam Savage (Mimi), PhD, RDT- BCT is a registered drama therapist and drama therapy trainer with a doctorate in expressive therapies and is a faculty member of our SEA Program. Dr. Savage teaches practitioners in the use of theatre arts, drama, and expressive therapies through her SoCal Drama Therapy Centre and offers programs for the general public through the Studio for Expressive Arts Los Angeles, which she also founded. She has offered therapy programs for children and adults in acute psychiatric in-patient units and implemented creative arts therapy programs in rehab facilities for young adults. Dr. Savage has taught critical thinking via theatre arts for developmentally delayed young adults at UCLA’s Pathway Program and facilitated acutely disabled youth in a LAUSD school implementing a creative drama curriculum. As a professional actress, she connected community needs with facilitation using dramatic arts after the 1992 Los Angeles Uprising. Joining coalitions of concerned, film and theater industry professionals, she mentored youth by using expressive and dramatic arts at the Virginia Avenue Project and in the acclaimed documentary, Through the Eyes of the Children: 113th and Central. Inspired by this and her concerns for social justice, she used her skills as a teaching artist developing and teaching VAPA curriculum at various SoCal school districts. Dr. Savage’s current research includes the intersection of narrative inquiry, digital apps, and drama therapy in arts-based studies focusing on self-identity with youth from foster care. Awarded grants for her work, she publishes and presents at conferences on drama therapy and recently completed facilitating a two-year, weekly expressive arts group with homeless women in L.A.’s skid row for a documentary production, Game Girls (2017 release). Her alma maters include Princeton University, Cal State University LA, Lesley University, and the Neighborhood Playhouse School conservatory in New York. She is on the board of the NADTA and is also its SoCal chapter President. Contact her at SoCal Drama Therapy Centre at or