Trauma Informed Expressive Arts Therapy Tools for Youth & Young Adults: Community of Practice 3-Part Series

Using a trauma-informed lens, this Community of Practice series offers tools from Expressive Arts Therapy (EXA) for working with youth and young adults. Presenter Suraya Keating, MFT, REAT, RDT, will share a variety of multimodal arts practices that can be used to soothe the nervous system; promote self-awareness; and support the agency, empowerment, and well-being of youth and young adults. Simple interventions using visual arts, visualization, movement, creative writing, music, and theater will be introduced as embodied alternatives to talk therapy that are rooted in attuning to the unique needs and diverse background of each youth or young adult client.  Each of the three trainings will focus on specialized forms of therapy and allow for in depth exercises, discussion, and practice.  All sessions are designed around the framework of the four most common trauma responses (fight, flight, freeze, and fawn), and a variety of effective bottom-up and top-down arts strategies will be incorporated to address each of these four responses. 


Trauma Informed EXA Tools for Youth & Young Adults Will Address and Explore: 

  • "Top-down" and "bottom-up" approaches to working with trauma. 

  • The benefits of Expressive Arts Therapy as a complement to traditional forms of psychotherapy. 

  • Specific bottom-up modalities and tools from Expressive Arts Therapy. 

  • Specific top-down modalities and tools from Expressive Arts Therapy. 

  • How the integration of top-down and bottom-up approaches through the "side-door" approach can be beneficial. 



Register Here for Any or All of the Three Sessions



Schedule and CoP Sequence:  


Session 1: Using Visual Art & Symbols in Youth & Young Adult Therapy  

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 from 3-4:30pm PT  


  • Participants will learn and practice two visual arts tools that calm and soothe fight and flight trauma responses. 

  • Participants will learn and practice two visual arts tools that create empowering action steps for the freeze and appease trauma responses. 

  • Participants will articulate two reasons as to why externalizing inner states through visual arts can be helpful. 


Session 2: Music and Movement Techniques in YYA Therapy  

Tuesday, March 1, 2022 from 3-4:30pm PT  


  • Participants will learn three movement approaches that calm and energize the nervous system, cultivate connection, and promote a sense of safety. 

  • Participants will practice two music therapy tools to help clients who are in dysregulated states return to a place of more ease and balance. 

  • Participants will learn and practice tools that combine music and movement to inspire a sense of play, gratitude, and joy, and will reflect on the importance of these three elements in healing trauma. 


Session 3: Drama & Creative Writing Tools for YYA Therapy  

Tuesday, March 22, 2022 from 3-4:30pm PT  


  • Participants will identify how and why play is an important element in healing trauma. 

  • Participants will learn and practice one creative writing tool to empower and bring hope to those who are stuck in a trauma response. 

  • Participants will learn and practice three body-oriented theater tools that help externalize emotions, cultivate playfulness,  and inspire wisdom. 

This Community of Practice series is open to all behavioral health providers, including school- and community-based mental health; private practice; primary care and hospital settings; and state, regional, and local mental health professionals  



About the Presenter:

Suraya Profile PictureSuraya Keating, MFT, REAT, RDT is a master trainer in Expressive Arts and Drama Therapy as well as adjunct professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies. For 25 years, she has facilitated Expressive Arts and Drama Therapy processes with individuals and groups in schools, prisons, and hospitals, with a focus on populations who are marginalized and oppressed and has also guided others in the creation and performance of therapeutic life-story theater. For 10 years, Suraya co-supervised Contra Costa County’s Expressive Arts Therapy Department, where she trained and supervised MFT associates in the cultivation of a wide variety of tools from Expressive Arts Therapy to support the wellbeing of individuals on the inpatient medical and psychiatric units of a county hospital, in addiction recovery programs at outpatient clinics, and in a variety of other settings. Since 2005, she has worked as Shakespeare for Social Justice Director for Marin Shakespeare’s prison programs, where she has trained hundreds of teaching artists, drama therapy students, and others interested in bringing the arts to carceral settings. Suraya works with therapeutic clients in-person and online, and also offers individual Expressive Arts consultation sessions as well as one-to-one solo performance coaching. 

Copyright © 2024 Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) Network