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


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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-colour versions of 26 figures.


  • Preface
  • 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
  • Resources
  • 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

Author Bio:

Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPAT, LPCC, ATR-BC, is a leading international expert, syndicated writer, and educator in the fields of art therapy and art in healthcare. She is a research psychologist, a Board Certified and Licensed Professional Art Therapist, Licensed Professional Clinical Counsellor, and has had over 25 years of experience and education in trauma intervention and disaster relief and integrative approaches to health. 

Also available from this author

  • The Art Therapy Sourcebook,
  • Handbook of Art Therapy (1st and 2nd eds.),
  • Creative Interventions with Traumatized Children,
  • Creative Arts and Play Therapy for Attachment Problems
  • Understanding Children’s Drawings, all of which are standards in the field.