1st Edition

Trauma and Expressive Arts Therapy Brain, Body, and Imagination in the Healing Process

By Cathy A. Malchiodi Copyright 2020

    From pioneering therapist Cathy A. Malchiodi, this book synthesizes the breadth of research on trauma and the brain and presents an innovative framework for treating trauma through the expressive arts. The volume describes powerful ways to tap into deeply felt bodily and sensory experiences as a foundation for safely exploring emotions, memories, and personal narratives. Rich clinical examples illustrate the use of movement, sound, play, art, and drama with children and adults. Malchiodi's approach not only enables survivors to express experiences that defy verbalization, but also helps them to transform and integrate the trauma, regain a sense of aliveness, and imagine a new future. Purchasers get access to a companion website where they can download and print reproducible tools from the book in a convenient 8 1/2" x 11" size, as well as full-color versions of 26 figures.

    1. Expressive Arts Therapy: Going Beyond the Limits of Language
    2. Frameworks for Expressive Arts Therapy and Trauma-Informed Practice
    3. A Brain–Body Framework for Expressive Arts Therapy
    4. The Reparation Is in the Relationship
    5. Safety: The Essential Foundation
    6. Self-Regulation: Fundamentals of Stabilization
    7. Working with the Body’s Sense of Trauma
    8. Trauma Narratives: Multiple Layers of Storied Expression
    9. Resilience: Enhancing and Embodying Mastery and Competence
    10. Meaning Making: Imagining New Narratives for Brain and Body
    Appendix 1A. Body Outline Template: Adults
    Appendix 1B. Body Outline Template: Children
    Appendix 2. Brain Template: Profile View
    Appendix 3. Brain Template: Two Hemispheres
    Appendix 4. Breathing Prompts
    Appendix 5. Mock Body-Mapping Activity
    Appendix 6. Body-Mapping Template


    Cathy A. Malchiodi, PhD, ATR-BC, LPCC, LPAT, REAT, is a psychologist and expressive arts therapist specializing in trauma recovery. Since the 1990s, Dr. Malchiodi has worked with traumatized children, adolescents, adults, and families, expanding the range of understanding of nonverbal, sensory-based concepts and methods. Founder and executive director of the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute, Dr. Malchiodi has given over 700 invited keynotes, lectures, and workshops around the world, and has assisted more than 500 organizations and institutions in developing trauma-informed, expressive arts, and disaster relief programming. Her books include Trauma and Expressive Arts Therapy, Understanding Children’s Drawings, and Creative Interventions with Traumatized Children, Second Edition. Dr. Malchiodi is a contributing writer forPsychology Today, an active visual artist, and an aspiring musician.

    “This book is at once encyclopedic in scope and profoundly poetic, meticulously observed and heartfelt--as scientific as it is creative. Malchiodi shows us how the legacy of trauma comprises not only distressing memories and disturbing thoughts, but also heartbreaking, gut-wrenching sensory experiences. Throughout history, just about every culture has coped with trauma by activating collective rhythms, sounds, music, improvisation and dramatic enactments, storytelling, and other ways of self-soothing and reconnecting with community. Malchiodi masterfully demonstrates how the expressive arts can mobilize the body and fire the imagination, and thereby help to restore vitality, self-efficacy, mastery, and self-expression."--Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD, author of The Body Keeps the Score; Founder and President, Trauma Research Foundation, Boston, Massachusetts

    "For those of us who believe that imagination is at the core of what it is to be human, expressive arts therapies are obvious tools in the process of addressing mental disorders and psychic pain. This book takes a systematic, rigorous, highly informative approach to exploring how therapies that lean on the human ability to create and depict experience can take an individual beyond a history of adversity and trauma. This is the best introduction to expressive arts therapies for trauma that I've seen; it will be of immense value to anyone who is engaged in learning about these interventions or who just wants to find out how and why they can be so very effective."--Peter Fonagy, OBE, FMedSci, FBA, FAcSS, Head, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, United Kingdom; Chief Executive, Anna Freud Centre

    "We are seeing a momentous shift in therapeutic approaches that help treat distressed individuals--the inclusion of the living, sensing, knowing body. This book offers a vital contribution by incorporating painting, dance, theatre, music, and more into the trauma therapy armamentarium. It is a clear guide both for therapists and educators who already utilize expressive arts and for all those who want to expand their depth of practice."--Peter A. Levine, PhD, Founder, Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute, Boulder, Colorado

    "This truly groundbreaking text is what the field has been waiting for! It is the first resource to thread together interpersonal neurobiological research on trauma with the role that expressive arts modalities can play in facilitating posttraumatic growth. Especially important is the systemic, culturally informed social justice perspective within which Malchiodi contextualizes her work. The book presents a healing-centered approach that embraces the intrinsic human capacity to use visual arts, movement, music, song, the written and spoken word, and drama for self- and co-regulation and mutual empowerment. We will adopt this book as a core text with specific relevance to our courses in Psychological Assessment and Creative Arts Therapy, Family and Couples Dynamics, and Expressive Arts and Trauma."--Shoshana Simons, PhD, RDT, Program Chair and Professor, Expressive Arts Therapy, California Institute of Integral Studies

    "This is the most important book I have read recently. Malchiodi provides powerful evidence for the significance of the expressive arts in trauma healing, making this an essential resource for all students and practitioners in the helping professions. The volume deepens current theory as well as breaking new ground. It places the individual engaged in creative expression as the authority--or, at the very least, a co-creator with the therapist--in healing action. Malchiodi names the expressive arts as a form of social action, and her book has worldwide relevance across all age levels. This is a brilliant book that builds on what we already know from indigenous therapies--the 'ancient university'--for healing trauma in individuals, families, and communities."--Judy Atkinson, PhD, Emeritus Professor and former Head, Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, Southern Cross University, Australia

    "This book is poised to become the defining manual for expressive arts therapists and a key source of inspiration for those trained in 'talk therapies' only. It is exciting reading. The book is deeply informed by neurobiology, trauma theories, research, and decades of clinical practice--the crossover between creative and body-focused approaches has never before been discussed in this breadth. The book abundantly illustrates creative strategies to enhance relationships, safety, self-regulation, resilience, mindfulness, meaning making, and posttraumatic growth. Body-based, healing-focused arts modalities have undeniably found their place in psychotherapy."--Cornelia Elbrecht, MA, AThR, SEP, REAT, Institute for Sensorimotor Art Therapy, Australia

    "Compelling evidence attests to the value of the expressive therapies as a treatment of choice for psychological trauma. Malchiodi offers practical, science-supported treatment strategies, illustrated by sensitive clinical vignettes from decades of experience. Without ever losing sight of the therapeutic relationship, the book emphasizes the action-oriented nature of the expressive therapies and their power to enhance self-regulation and communicate difficult emotional content. Written through a contemporary lens, and peppered with pop culture references, this text is an accessible staple for any graduate art therapy training classroom, and will be appreciated by all clinicians interested in holistic, whole-body care."--Juliet L. King MA, ATR-BC, LPC, LMHC, Associate Professor of Art Therapy, The George Washington University; Adjunct Associate Professor of Neurology, Indiana University School of Medicine

    "Malchiodi has written the comprehensive work on trauma treatment and the expressive arts. Moving case descriptions demonstrate the power of images, movement, and music to transform the legacy of the past."--Janina Fisher, PhD, psychotherapist, consultant, and trainer, Oakland, California-This book is thought provoking and reminds us that how and why therapists do what they do can make all the difference in patients achieving health, feelings of safety, and self-efficacy. This well-written contribution to the expressive arts is a must-read….The book is a blend of real-life trauma casework, seminal references and research, and the author's own honed intuition into patient needs for expression. From beginning to end, objectives are met and readers are left in awe of individuals' humanness and capacity for resilience when given the right tools and experiences….This book is a delight to read. This author is committed to a process of learning, growing, and becoming positively alive through self-expression. I was left heavy-hearted with real-life story reminders of how brutality can crush the human spirit and experience. Thank goodness the weight was lifted by an innovative exploration into patient/client safety, reparation, and resilience and a brilliant, effective provision of well-thought-out information and activities.--Doody's Review Service, 7/10/2020