An Art Based Protocol for Treating Trauma’s Ghosts 04/30/16


"Lace and Ghosts" by Victor Hugo

Integration is now a primary focus of state-of-the-art trauma treatment, but what exactly is being integrated?  The physical, emotional, and intellectual aspects of trauma’s ghosts, most of which are implicit and thus not accessible through approaches that rely heavily on conscious awareness and verbal ability.  These ghosts are triggered by idiosyncratic bodily experiences, feeling states, and mental impressions.  Because they typically lack a solid connection to context, trauma’s ghosts are difficult to transform into memories that can be recalled at will.  Not being able to access traumatic memories often causes anxiety, and haphazard exposure to available traumatic memories often causes flooding.   The use of art in the treatment of trauma can be a way to gently integrate both implicit and explicit memories, yet because artmaking incorporates bodily experiences, feeling states, and mental impressions, it is possible for clinicians to mistake artmaking in general for targeted intervention and thus risk retraumatizing clients.


This experiential workshop will provide therapists with an in vivo rehearsal of a five-part trauma treatment protocol that uses art to: establish differentiation between the past and the present; facilitate a client-centered method for trauma exposure and distortion reduction; develop a sense of control over traumatic material while reducing hyper/hypoarousal; recognize positive aspects of self; and promote hopefulness and buoyancy.  The protocol’s relationship to neurobiological factors associated with stress and resiliency will be explored briefly, but the primary focus of this workshop will be on the protocol itself and its relationship to the integrative framework of the Expressive Therapies Continuum, a balance-promoting assessment and intervention model from the world of art therapy.  Understanding how the protocol fits within the ETC and its Media Dimension Variables will help clinicians grasp the difference between the technique-oriented management vs. the systems-oriented treatment of trauma’s ghosts.



Participants will be able to

  • describe four neurobiological factors associated with stress and resiliency.

  • work through a five-part art based trauma treatment protocol to familiarize themselves with implicit aspects and other subjective experiences elicited by the procedure.

  • identify the Media Dimension Variables that contribute toward the protocol’s utility as an integrative agent of change in the treatment of trauma.    


Date: Saturday, April 30, 2016

Time: 1:00-3:00 pm

Location: Arc of the Arts Studio & Gallery / 4902 Grover Ave. / Austin, TX 78756

CEUs: 2.0 for TX counselors, marriage/family therapists, and social workers

Investment: $55 includes all materials; space is limited—register by April 23 to ensure your spot


Bring your business cards!  My goal for all workshops is the sharing of knowledge and experience in a safe and supportive atmosphere, so please be prepared to be a co-creator of such an environment.  Thanks!

CEU Information

ABCs for Therapists is an approved provider of continuing education for:

  • The Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, provider #522
  • The Texas Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors, provider # 1380
  • The Texas State Board of Social Workers Examiners, provider #5825

Please note that ABCs for Therapists does not assume liability for your clothing or jewelry.  Aprons/smocks will be provided for your convenience, but it is your responsibility to dress accordingly when working with art materials.  Thank you!


cancellations received on or before 04/20:

Your workshop fee will be fully refunded, or you may donate your spot to someone else if you’d like.


cancellations received 04/21-04/25:

Your workshop fee will be 50% refunded, or you may donate your spot to someone else if you’d like.


cancellations received 04/26-04/30:

Your workshop fee will not be refunded, but you may donate your spot to someone else if you’d like.


Standards of competent practice in art therapy require a graduate education in art therapy as well as supervised training in art therapy.  Attendees who lack these won't develop the knowledge and skills for competent art therapy practice, but they will enhance their understanding of the use of art in assessment and treatment.


About the Image on This Page

Lace and Ghosts was created by Victor Hugo in 1856. The original work is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired per US copyright laws; this may or may not apply to other countries as well. Click here for more information.