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Trauma and Recovery in the Expressive Arts Studio: An Embodied Existential Approach

August 17 @ 9:30 am - August 18 @ 5:30 pm


On day one, Wes Chester, MA CAGS presents the a detailed overview of the latest science concerning physiology of trauma, in a fun experiential way. You’ll learn the importance of embodied approaches to trauma recovery and why Expressive Arts is such a compelling aid to recovery.

Day two Dr. Judith Greer Essex will present an arts-based three stage treatment approach to support trauma recovery. Specific activities in the art disciplines will be included with vignettes discussed.



Making sense of traumatic memory is not merely a matter of cognitive change. The necessary change in cognition can only take place in cooperation with a change in embodied awareness. Through intermodal use of the arts, we can enliven the senses, even as we calm the body, creating space to work safely with the “trigger issues”, that shut down the healing process, and helping to close the chasm between the dissociated body and the traumatic narrative.


In this 2-day workshop for professionals, you will learn:

  • How to differentially diagnose trauma, and traumatic stress from a sensory and phenomenological perspective.
  • How to understand the neurobiological basis for traumatic stress and PTSD and the rationale for using Intermodal Expressive Arts in treatment of trauma.
  • Specific aesthetically based-intervention skills to aid in
    • self-regulation and relaxation
    • mood management
    • re-construction and integration of the fragmentary traumatic narrative.
  • How to use the arts and aesthetics effectively throughout the treatment cycle of traumatic recovery.
  • The role of the therapeutic presence in supporting healing from trauma.
  • The role of community art in trauma impacted settings and communities.

About the Facilitators:










Judith Greer Essex, Ph.D., REAT, LMFT, BC-D/MT  is the founding director of the Expressive Arts Institute, and has worked as an arts based helper since 1973. Dr. Essex has worked with children, youth, adults and seniors in recovery from trauma, both in private practice and in hospital settings. In addition to the Expressive Arts Institute, she is a frequent instructor at the European Graduate School, and Alliant International University. Dr. Essex is a recognized expert in body-based approaches to learning, expression and healing.


Wes Headshot








Wes Chester, MA, CAGS, Expressive Arts Therapist is the Director of the Expressive Arts Institute. Wes is a Musician, Poet, Artist and Outdoorsman, with a private practice specializing in Nature Therapy and Eco-Aesthetics. Wes has been an arts based helper since 1996, and began his career specializing in persons with severe and persistent mental illness. Wes is a sexual health educator and a sex positive therapist, who specializes in survivors of childhood sexual abuse and victims of sexual assault.


Register early, number of participants is strictly limited.

Choose Your Option


August 17 @ 9:30 am
August 18 @ 5:30 pm


Expressive Arts Institute
2820 Roosevelt Rd. Suite 204
San Diego, CA, CA 92106
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Judith Greer Essex