social emotional arts on a shoestring

UAH104_SEAShoestringlogo-CMYKInterested in facilitating supportive activities in art, movement, music, and writing? Learn how to work with any age group, ability, number of participants, and budget in our online training that includes a menu of activities that can be delivered immediately and sustainably. The training includes guidelines on social emotional arts practices 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


Our online training program is taught in four separate modules—art, movement, music, and writing/poetry—through experiential learning, and is designed for practicality. For example, the arts modules are designed on the assumption of little or no supplies being available. This enables sustainable delivery by educators and care providers in settings with limited resources, such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, shelters, clinics, and other community settings.

Our extensive curriculum manual is laid out in a user-friendly, scripted format for easy facilitation. And the activities are versatile. The manual includes instructions for adaptation to different lengths of time available in working with participants, different age groups and abilities, and individual vs. group work. They also include instructions on incorporating other art forms into any particular experience.

View a descriptive narrative of the training, with photos, from our blog.


Our Social Emotional Arts on a Shoestring 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 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. The initiative evolved into the formal creation of the Therapeutic Arts Group (TAG) within the medical school, as well as inclusion of UCLA undergraduates within that student organization. We have also trained UCLA undergraduates, who have been supporting the medical students by accompanying homeless individuals through the UCLA mobile clinic process. The program offers a mutually-supportive experience for both facilitators and patients. Medical students can see patients sooner than their traditional curriculum allows and can witness the health care experience from the eyes of the patient. For more information on TAG, click here.

We have trained many mental health and allied health professionals affiliated with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, who are using these tools during group work, clinic sessions, or in-home visits.  In addition, the program is useful as a tool for outreach. This training program is also in demand by many educators and arts professionals, as it teaches them the fundamentals of social emotional arts work and provides them with a scripted set of activities to follow. For example, we have conducted the full training for Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. In addition, we have given introductory sessions to 4th year medical students and visiting scholars from China.

become a social emotional arts on a shoestring facilitator

We offer a four-session online training twice a year as part of our signature programming, a two-day training at our annual conference on Creativity & the Arts in Healing, as well as contracted trainings on demand.

To learn the difference between the Social Emotional Arts on a Shoestring training and the Certificate Program in Social Emotional Arts, click here.


From Trainees in Medical School, Mental Health, Education, Healthcare and the Arts

“Thank you so much! More please!”

“Best training I ever attended.”

“Great interactive training!”

“This is a beautiful program. I can see how it could make a real difference for a patient.”

“So good. Very interactive and engaging.”

“Fun . . . [and] learned how to approach more difficult patients.”

“The entire training was very valuable and essential to my role with my organization.”

“[I am] Learning very useful interventions to use for clients and families. Personally, feeling more confident, being more aware, more present, sillier, joyful, calm and excited. Insights about my life and things that pop up in my head that I had put in a drawer or so I thought.”

“This session gave me simple, accessible activities that are rich and profound in discussing/sharing.”

“The activities were enriching both personally and professionally.”

“Offered me more insight to my own narrative and how I can use it to meet others where they are in their process.”

“I know and believe that power of art healing but now I have more dialogue to support it.  These sessions help with the why it is so helpful.”

“I learned interventions to use with clients and with my own children.”

“Useful strategies to use with children and their parents.”

“Loved this training! Very helpful with lots of new interventions to try! Thank you!”

“Enjoyed all 4 sections today.  Learned a lot!!”

“Thank you so much for everything! I’ve learned so much and can’t waot t try it with my students.”

“Wonderful hands on activity. One of our best trainings. Many thanks!”

“This is what my soul has been reaching out for!  Really applicable activities to use and adapt.  Thank you!”

“Very engaging and immediately useful.”

“Phenomenal! Really engaging and extremely relevant to the work we do.  Cannot wait to incorporate into my classroom. Thank you!”

“So informative and fun!! Thank you!!

“This training really teaches inspirational lessons that can be taught in our classrooms.  Trainers are amazing!”

“So many things I want to try in my room!”

“Incredible. Gracias.”

“Thank you! Please do more trainings!!”

“Realistic and tangible. All of you are so knowledgeable. THANK YOU!”

From Patients Experiencing the Program Facilitated by Medical Student Trainees

“Loved it!”

“It was a pleasant distraction from the usual day. Thank you!”

“I felt free to express my mental short comings due to my mental deficit but had a ton of fun forgetting all of that and enjoying the company.”

“I liked feeling less cooped up.”

“I loved being able to be in an uplifting mood.”

“What you’re doing is good for someone who is down in the dumps.”

teaching faculty & program development team:

Lori Baudino, PhD, BC-DMT has been a practicing clinician for over fifteen years. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology and masters in creative arts therapy – dance/movement therapy. The national clinical spokesperson for The Andréa Rizzo Foundation, Dr. Baudino, through the support of the Foundation, brought the first dance/movement therapy programs to the top pediatric hospitals in Los Angeles, where she continues to provide 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 rehabilitation centers for trauma, addiction, and pain management. Dr. Baudino has also coordinated Behavior Intervention Programs within the home/school setting. In her private practice, she works with children and their families to support the developing child and the integral relationships between parent, child, and siblings. Understanding the premise that the body, mind, and spirit are interconnected and that life is experienced through movement, Dr. Baudino’s approach allows the child to put words into action, understand individual sensory and motor preferences, express emotional needs, and support overall integration and well-being. Visit for more information.

Kathy Cass MA, BC-DMT, NCC, C-IAYT, CAHC, AYT is a board-certified dance/movement therapist, nationally certified counselor, certified yoga therapist certified Ayurvedic health counselor, and Ayurvedic yoga therapist with over 30 years of instructional and clinical experience. She is the co-author of the curriculum and training program, Dance For All. She is currently Adjunct Assistant Professor at El Camino Community College and Santa Monica College, Emeritus Division. Kathy is advisor and core faculty for UCLArts & Healing’s Certificate Program in Social Emotional Arts. She has been a guest lecturer at UCLA, Scripps College, and CMER at Loyola Marymount University. Kathy maintains a private Ayurvedic yoga therapy and consulting practice in Santa Monica, CA, where she empowers her students and clients to reconnect with their true nature through movement, breath, nature, and the arts. Visit for more information.

Erica Curtis, LMFT, ATR-BC is a Board Certified Art Therapist and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Erica is an internationally sought speaker on creative approaches to emotional and relationship health. She regularly serves as a mental health expert for articles, appearing in more than 100 media outlets including: USA Today, ELLE, The Boston Globe, PBS, and Women’s World Magazine, to name a few. Formerly an instructor in the Loyola Marymount University Department of Marriage and Family Therapy with a specialization in art therapy, she now serves as their admissions consultant and maintains a therapy practice in San Juan Capistrano. Erica has served multiple terms on the board of directors of the American Art Therapy Association, is a past president of the Southern California Art Therapy Association, and was formerly clinical director at the Help Group, a widely respected Los Angeles non-profit agency. Erica serves as an expert consultant for organizations such as The Foundation for Art and Healing and the Board of Behavioral Sciences, for whom she consults on standard of care in disciplinary cases brought against therapists. She also supervises art therapy interns. Erica is an award-winning author, with Ping Ho, of The Innovative Parent: Raising Connected, Happy, Successful Kids through Art.  

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 Founder and Director of UCLArts & Healing, an organizational member of the UCLA Integrative Medicine Collaborative, of which Ping is a steering committee member. She was founding administrator for the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, 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. She has a BA in psychology with honors from Stanford—where she was appointed to establish 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 is associate editor for the Creative Arts Therapies section of the Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine and has been Co-Chair of the annual Expressive Therapies Summit: Los Angeles, which has offered 150+ workshops on creativity and the arts in healing. She developed the Certificate Program in Social Emotional Arts (SEA) and the SEA on a Shoestring program of supportive art, movement, music, and writing for individuals or groups in any setting. In addition, she co-developed and served as principal investigator for the evidence-based program, Beat the Odds®: Social and Emotional Skill Building Delivered in a Framework of Drumming.  She is co-author, with Erica Curtis, of the 2019 National Parenting Products Award-winning book, The Innovative Parent: Raising Connected, Happy, Successful Kids through Art (Ohio University/Swallow Press, March 2019).

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.

Mimi Savage, PhD, RDT-BCT is a professor at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in expressive arts therapy and she is on the founding faculty of the SEA program at UCLArts & Healing. As a registered drama therapist (RDT) and board-certified trainer (BCT) in her field, Dr. Savage taught critical thinking through improvisation at UCLA’s Pathway Program for developmentally delayed young adults as well as created and led drama therapy programs for several years in acute psychiatric in-patient units for adults and children. She has facilitated diverse populations from homeless women on skid row to youth in residential rehab. Her presentations and publications involve her research on the intersections of identity for adopted adolescent girls from foster care through the uses of drama therapy and digital media. For several years, she created curriculum as a theatre arts teaching artist for typical and neurodiverse public school elementary and middle school children, while working as a professional actress. Dr. Savage serves as the Education Chair of the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA) and is a recipient of a Drama Therapy Fund Professional Research Grant. An alumna of Princeton, CSULA, and Lesley University, she also completed conservatory training at the Neighborhood Playhouse School, NYC. Information about professional development, drama/expressive therapies certifying training, or personal life coaching using these modalities with her can be found at

Stacie Aamon Yeldell, MA, MTBC, AVPT is an award-winning vocalist, speaker, and music psychotherapist with over 15 years of experience in mental health treatment. As the founder of Amöntra, a consulting company based in California, she has facilitated a range of therapeutic mindfulness practices for individuals and organizations, including The Grammy Foundation, The Riveter, GoogleArts and Culture, and YoungArts. In addition to being a faculty member for UCLArts & Healing, Stacie has spoken at events like Women In Music and DisclosureFestTM. She has also appeared on CBS News, in Renée Fleming’s “Music and Mind Live,” and is featured in the documentary “Proven.” Stacie holds a masters degree in music therapy from New York University, in addition to certifications in sound and music healing from the Open Center and Vocal Psychotherapy (AVPT) from the Vancouver Vocal Psychotherapy Institute. Learn more about Stacie at