Spotlight: Workshop Highlights at our 3rd Annual Conference

From uniting diverse voices in our community to expressive art techniques for managing big feelings in our kids—our 150+ hands-on arts workshops this year offer something for everyone! Take a look at these featured sessions below, including a partial scholarship opportunity for Recovery Coach Academy® certificate training, a four-day intensive on working with all types of addictive behaviors.

Tempted to choose more than a few? No problem. Registration discounts on three and four-day packages have now been extended through 03/27!

Managing Big Feelings & Behaviors in Kids through the Arts 
Thursday, March 28 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Erica Curtis, LMFT, ATR-BC
Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and there is hardly a more necessary time to get innovative than when children are having “big” feelings, no matter where that might be. While talk- and behavior-based models abound, sometimes these tried-and-true strategies just don’t work. That’s when expressive arts techniques provide an effective way for working with youngsters who do not respond to traditional approaches. In this 3-hour workshop, participants will learn research-grounded, arts-based strategies for addressing the kind of big feelings and behaviors that kids and teens will undoubtedly exhibit during the course of counseling and psychotherapy. Hands-on art therapy experiential activities will promote creative problem solving and inspire the development of novel ideas for addressing challenging behaviors that occur at home, in school, or in treatment settings. This workshop is appropriate for both generalist and specialist helping professionals who seek new techniques and solutions.

Bonus: This training utilizes concepts from the new book, The Innovative Parent: Raising Connected, Happy, Successful Kids through Art by workshop instructor Erica Curtis and our Founder & Director, Ping Ho. Learn more about this innovative book by watching a short book trailer here.

Diversity: Deepening the Creative Collective Exchange
Friday, March 29, 2019 from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm
Denise Boston, PhD, RDT
Ernesto Colín, MA, PhD
Maria Gonzalez-Blue, MA, REAT, REACE
Diana Elizabeth Jordan, MFA/OTA
Shelly Tochluk, PhD

How do we establish a setting for potentially difficult conversations? How do we creatively bring people together to talk about the experience of microaggression, issues of privilege, feelings of marginalization, or ways in which one’s story hasn’t been honored in the workplace? This day-long master class, facilitated by a diverse team of experts, will explore innovative ways to find commonality and unite diverse voices in community. Rooted in an indigenous cultural practice of establishing harmony in our humanness, we will also strive for reciprocity – teaching one another something from our own backgrounds. This interactive workshop will begin with brief inspirational statements by each of the five experts, followed by small group work to deepen the conversation. Each group will literally demonstrate their conclusions creatively, in an art form of their choice. The session will conclude with an inspirational closing activity where each member of the group will share an action plan for implementing, in their personal and professional lives, what was learned. The goal of this session is not only for participants to experience processes for facilitating dialogue in therapeutic arts contexts, but also to develop as thought leaders around diversity. These tools are invaluable in both community work and clinical practice.

Recovery Coach Academy©: A Training Intensive for Working with Addictions of All Types
Thursday, March 28 though Sunday, March 31, 2019 from 10:00 am to 7:30 pm

The CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© is a 4-day, 30-hour, training intensive, offered at our conference in partnership with the Center for Addiction Recovery Training of the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR). This 4-day comprehensive curriculum focuses on providing participants with the skills needed to guide, mentor, and support clients who would like to enter into or sustain long-term recovery from an addiction to alcohol, opioids, sex, gambling,shopping, and other addictive substances and behaviors. The role of the Recovery Coach and the components, core values, and guiding principles of recovery will be explored in depth. Active listening skills, methods of inquiry, and ways to self-manage will be emphasized. Through didactic and experiential exercises, this training intensive will empower participants to support clients in recovery to share their stories, manage wellness through the stages of recovery, and enhance their relationships. Dynamic expressive arts therapies activities will be demonstrated and experienced, and cultural, political, ethical, and boundary issues will be addressed. Registrants must attend all 4 days of this training. A separate manual fee is required.

Bonus: A partial scholarship is available for this training. For more information, contact

Storytelling & Performance for Enhancing Resilience and Self-Awareness
Friday, March 29, 2019 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Diana Feldman, MA, LCAT, RDT-BDT
Cristina Hernandez

Stories are the way we make sense of the world and narrate the complexities of our lives. Having others witness them— especially those in our community—help us to feel heard, connected, and empowered . . . a key to healing. When we are denied the ability to speak our truths or transform our narratives, we are robbed of a powerful tool for change. In this theater-based trauma-informed workshop, counselors, therapists, and other healthcare providers will be able to tap into the power of their client’s stories as a change-maker in therapeutic settings. Participants will discuss and then employ active techniques through ENACT’s therapeutic performance method developed and honed in over 30 years working with put-at-risk youth in NYC public schools. Therapists will learn to identify salient themes through which they can develop a client’s or groups’ ability to tell their stories in a safe and protective context. Participatory activities will include warm-up exercises, transition methods for “mini” performance creation, and guidance for devising performative opportunities for personalized expression within any therapeutic context to help grow clients’ self-awareness and self-esteem.

Pongo Poetry Project: Writing with Traumatized Vulnerable Populations
Saturday, March 30, 2019 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Paloma Andazola-Reza, MSW
Richard Gold, MA

For 23 years the Pongo Poetry Project has provided healing poetry programs in detention centers, homeless shelters, state psychiatric hospitals, and other sites. The consistent theme in our authors’ poetry has been childhood trauma, such as abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence. In 1,300 surveys and five pilot studies, the outcomes show that our writers are addressing core issues, feeling better after writing, continuing to write, and finding new purpose for their lives. The topic of this workshop, which teaches the Pongo methodology, is important because of the dire circumstances in vulnerable populations. For example, in the juvenile detention population that Pongo serves, the group is 84% youth of color, and these youth suffer from childhood trauma, have not received treatment for their trauma, are not in school, are frequently gang-involved, are often substance users, and are facing long prison sentences. And these youth and their families are some of the people most victimized historically by social injustice. The goal of the session is to teach skills that the participants can use the next day to provide healing poetry to vulnerable populations. The participants will learn the history, outcomes, and rationale for Pongo, and then they will learn several teaching techniques in hands-on practice. The skills learned are applicable to serve both youth and adults, including people who do not typically respond to traditional approaches. These skills are appropriate for clinical practice in institutional, agency, and private practice settings.

Emotional Regulation & Connection for Families: A Neuroscience-Informed Movement Process
Friday, March 29, 2019 from 2:30 to 5:30 pm
Lori Baudino, PsyD, BC-DMT
More and more, neuroscience theory and research can be drawn upon to inform any clinical practice in the arts andtherapy. However, explaining these concepts to parents and children in relation to their treatment goals can be difficult.It is important for clients of any age to grasp key aspects of brain science because it normalizes their problematic behaviors, allowing the family’s self-blame to give way to non-judgment. Clients can begin to understand that their body-based problems stem from natural or universal processes (not their “fault”), and that behavior change is possible and can occur through this shift in perception. In this three-hour workshop, participants will be introduced to an embodied approach to teaching brain functioning through movement with the goal of improved treatment. Using this approach can bring clarity to clients and help them to establish an optimal base for starting treatment, facilitating emotional regulation, enhanced communication, and connection. Participants will not only learn a new way to talk about neuroscience, but experience it through movement, as well.

Holding Space & Building Trust Through Music: Narrating the Process
Sunday, March 31, 2019 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Kate Richards Geller, MA, MT-BC, LCAT

In this three-hour workshop, you will have the unique opportunity to witness the mind of a music therapist, as she articulates what she hears and sees as well as her reasoning behind moment-to-moment shifts in the guided process of group singing. Shaking, bouncing, laughing, or sighing may give way to humming with elongated breath and vowel sounds which may morph into to rhythm patterns and groove (with melody), which may stay in unison or evolve into improvised harmonic divergence. Each step in the process depends on what is happening in the space. Participants are invited explore sound at whatever level they feel comfortable and curious, all the while being invited to pay attention to sensations in the body and journeys in the mind. In this workshop, you will experience the awe of singing in a soundscape and the practice of being in sync and in tune. This form of group singing is uniquely accessible (only the body required) and applicable to any population. Participants often report feeling energized, liberated, and surprised by the ease of the experience and the discovery of what they can do. This group singing process inherently builds trust in self and others. It can be used with children as well as adults to enhance listening skills, social connection, and emotional expression, and you will learn guidelines for accommodating the needs of more traumatized populations. Group facilitators and teachers of all persuasions will gain useful tools to incorporate into clinical or community settings.

Managing Traumatic Stress through Visual Art Journaling: A Group Approach
Saturday, March 30, 2019 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Lani Gerity, DA, ATR
Susan Anand, MA, ATR-BC, ATCS, LPAT

Keeping a visual art journal is a wonderful way to record personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings. It is a particularly helpful practice for those who wish to chart their journeys in therapy, explore issues and themes, and “do homework” after sessions. For this reason, the visual art journal offers a creative, portable tool for extending the therapeutic hour. In this three-hour workshop, we’ll begin with a short overview illustrating how to help clients start and maintain an art journal; identify clinical populations for which this well-contained, assemblage-like technique is particularly helpful; and review the therapeutic benefits of this approach. During the hands-on portion of the class, we’ll use basic office supplies and found materials to create a simple book structure, then work on a variety of “directives” from Cohen et al’s 1995 workbook, Managing Traumatic Stress Through Art, designed to promote strengths, resilience,and self-care in treatment in virtually any clinical setting. Participants will be encouraged to discuss their experiences with the process and look at possible adaptations for using visual arts journals for the populations with whom they work. Also, a downloadable “zine” featuring a variety of book making structures will be provided to registrants to take with them. This class is suitable for generalists and specialists alike.

For more information, and to register for the conference, and any of the above workshops, visit our conference website.