creative rituals for processing grief & celebrating life

This interactive, online workshop offers ways to honor our experience, give voice to our feelings, and find resilience. Participants experience how music, movement, and writing can create sacred moments of reflection to honor grief, engender hope, find meaning in loss, elevate spirit, and facilitate closure. The workshop begins with an embodied musical journey to “express the loss, feel the love, and see the light,” informed by the field of music therapy. Next, deep writing is facilitated through inspirational literature using a poetry therapy process. Finally, memories of a lost loved one are summoned through symbolic movement in the tradition of dance/movement therapy. Group support and sharing are facilitated and modeled throughout the session.


Turbulent times, such as those induced by the coronavirus pandemic, can evoke multifaceted feelings of loss and grief. Grief may occur from the loss of a loved one, sudden unemployment, sustained social isolation, and/or disruption of a previously cherished way of life. Issues of loss and grief, particularly those connected to the death of a loved one, can be difficult to express, process, and heal. Creative arts processes provide a powerful, way to express our feelings while honoring the sacredness of life–especially when words elude us.

The techniques in this workshop can be used with individuals or groups in a variety of settings.

Creative expression is a window to the soul, 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 a range of positive emotions with immediacy. And just as quickly, they can build connection and community. Rigorous studies of the arts used in healing contexts show biological evidence of stress reduction. And studies have shown that creative arts interventions and particularly creative arts therapies not only reduce stress, but also anxiety, depression and pain. In addition, they improve quality of life.


This program was originally presented at a Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Conference on Spirituality and Mental Health. Since then, it has been delivered it at our annual conference on Creativity & the Arts in Healing and throughout the year to our UCLArts & Healing community.


From Attendees of our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Annual Conferences on Creativity & the Arts in Healing:

“Wonderful presenters! Held the space beautifully. Loved the process.”

“Excellent tool/modalities provided.”

“i will be applying lessons gathered personally and professionally.”

“Warm and compassionate.”

“Multi-modal experientials provided valuable feedback.”

“Amazing! Please come back!”

“Very powerful and moving thanks!”

“They were supportive, open and sincere and huge part was also the people in the class. They allowed for me to open up and dive deep. Thank you!”

“Extremely moving by way of multi-modal approach. Very grateful for the experience.”

“Powerful, please continue to bring this back. I was given personal and professional tools and found it to be very well delivered. Safe and Healing.”

“So grateful for this presentation professionally and personally. If there is no other session I did this entire conference, this covered it all for me!”

“Loved the experience and creativity in each of the presenters. The flow of this workshop was wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed this personally and professionally! These women are very knowledgeable of the material presented and I am so grateful for the experience!”

“What a great experience!”

“Lovely combination, great pacing and buildup, sensitivity to group.”

“Helpful info to use and integrate.”

teaching faculty & program development team

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.

Summer Jasmine Lall, MT-BC is a clinical board-certified music therapist with a music therapy degree from Berklee College of Music. She is the founder CradleSong Birthing and Rhythm & Truth Music Therapy. She is RISE/LGBTQ trained, trauma informed, and a HeartMath Certified Trainer. Summer has practiced music therapy in schools, shelters, daycares, foster camps, yoga studios, correctional facilities, group homes, treatment centers, hospice and hospitals: Labor & Delivery, ICU, NICU, Psychiatric, Pediatrics and Oncology. In addition to her broad local outreach, music has taken her to over 20 countries, including Kenya, Vietnam, Jamaica and Brazil. When she is not practicing music therapy, Summer is writing, recording or performing with her band PWR CPL, hoping to inspire positive change through music however she can.

Jennie Linthorst, MA, CAPF is a poet, expressive writing teacher, and founder of LifeSPEAKS Poetry Therapy. Jennie has been teaching a unique poetry workshop in all 3rd grade classrooms for the Manhattan Beach Unified School District using a variety of “voice energies” to inspire poetic writing, while fostering social and emotional growth. Jennie has taught expressive writing workshops at UC Irvine Extension, the University of Santa Monica, the National Association for Poetry Therapy, and other organizations. For the past 14 years, Jennie has facilitated ongoing adult writing groups, and original curriculum for private clients exploring their life stories through reading and writing poetry. After graduating cum laude from Skidmore College with a BA in Psychology, and a concentration in dance, Jennie began her career in arts education coordinating artist-in-residency programs for Leap . . . imagination in learning in San Francisco, and the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Manhattan Beach. She has certification as an Applied Poetry Facilitator from the National Federation of Biblio/Poetry Therapy. She has also obtained an MA in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica; a highly experiential counseling program which applies a soul-centered approach to mental and physical well-being. Jennie is the author of two books of poetry by Cardinal House Publishing: Silver Girl and Autism Disrupted: A Mother’s Journey of Hope. Her poetry has been featured in Edison Literary Review, Forge, Sanskirt Literary Arts Magazine, Kaleidoscope, and Bluestem magazines. Her work has been featured online at Hopeful Parents, Wellsphere, The SPD Blogger Network, and WOW! Women on Writing.

Stacie Aamon Yeldell, MA, MTBC, AVPT is a board-certified music, vocal psychotherapist, and international speaker with 15 years of experience in mental health treatment. She has treated thousands of individuals in dozens of institutions, hospitals, and treatment centers. Stacie’s transformative work was featured on CBS news and, most recently, in the docuseries “Proven.” She received a master’s degree in music therapy from New York University and a certification in sound and music healing from the Open Center in New York City. As a vocal psychotherapist (AVPT), she emphasizes the use of the voice as a path to wellness and healing. Stacie has been a speaker and presenter at numerous events, including the Grammy Foundation, Women in Music, and Akon’s Disclosure Fest. In addition, she creates and facilitates customized programs for self-care and professional development across the globe. Stacie is a core faculty member for UCLArts & Healing, including the Certificate Program in Social Emotional Arts.