Shoshana Simons

Shoshana Simons

Program Chair and Professor
Expressive Art Therapy

Associate Professor
Transformative Inquiry

CIIS Main Building
6th Floor
1453 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Shoshana Simons PhD, RDT is Chair of CIIS's Expressive Arts Therapy Program. Shoshana has a rich background in integrating performance and expressive arts structures into multiple contexts of work with children and adults in educational, therapeutic and larger systems. She has a particular interest in the integration of the arts into spiritual practice and socio-emotional development. She is passionate about using the performance and expressive arts as catalysts for healing and social change. Over the last several years, Shoshana has focused on developing an expressive arts-centered approach to narrative therapy. In particular, she has co-developed an innovative narrative collective practice with EXA faculty member, Danielle Drake Burnette called "Laundry of Life" which they have been using locally and globally with groups and communities facing serious life issues and challenges.

Shoshana is a graduate of the Omega Transpersonal Drama Therapy Program, Boston, MA. In addition to professional therapy training, she has an MA in Sociology & Social Policy from London Metropolitan University, an MA in Human Development from The Fielding Institute, CA and a Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Systems from The Fielding Institute, CA. Shoshana has published in the areas of couples therapy, narrative approaches to leadership and systems change, sustainable leadership and the role of spirituality in children's social and emotional development. She has also presented extensively at conferences nationally and internationally on expressive arts-based approaches to creative and academic writing, queer studies and the role of expressive arts in social and organizational development. 

Shoshana, born and raised in London, UK, spent the first part of her career integrating creative arts into her work as a play leader, community worker and counselor, primarily with homeless women and children, refugees and survivors of domestic violence from all corners of the globe. She ran a successful psychotherapy practice in London for many years, specializing in working with individuals and couples in same-gender relationships. Her training in the UK included studies at The Tavistock Institute for Marital Studies and The Institute for Group Analysis. Shoshana was also a workshop leader for several years at the London Women's Therapy Centre, Group Work Trainer at the London Jewish Marriage Council and an independent trainer in anti-oppression work. In the mid 1980's she pioneered an innovative long-term anti-oppression program for social workers across differences in the London Borough of Camden called "Listening Across the Barricades."

Shoshana moved to the USA in 1990 to gain training in relational-cultural therapy at The Stone Center Counseling Service, Wellesley College, MA where she remained for an additional year as a Clinical Associate. She then moved to Vermont where she had a private psychotherapy practice for several years while teaching in Goddard College's MA Program in Counseling & Psychology. She also taught as an adjunct in the MSW Program at the University of Vermont and in Lesley University's MA Program in Counseling Psychology. Additionally, Shoshana taught Intercultural Helping Skills for eight years in Lesley University's MA in Intercultural Relations Program.

Shoshana returned to The Stone Center in 1999 to become the Training Director and then Director of Special Projects at the Open Circle Program, a nationally-recognized social and emotional learning program, where her work included promoting socioemotional learning skills in elementary school systems, integrating improvisational and expressive arts and mindfulness practices into programming and in running creative multicultural awareness programs for teachers and school leaders. She won a CAJE grant in 2004 to support innovative curriculum development linking Jewish ethical teachings with the Open Circle Curriculum.

In addition to her special interest and training in relational-cultural approaches to psychotherapy, Shoshana has a background in narrative and constructionist therapies and their application in work with individuals, couples, families, groups and organizations. She spent a year at the Family Institute of Cambridge in Massachusetts as Director of Organizational Development where she was also a member of the Narrative Therapy Study Group. The focus of her dissertation was the development of a narrative approach to leadership development and systemic change.

Shoshana's current interests include: narrative expressive arts therapy practices, the use of expressive arts modalities for promoting and maintaining mental health for therapists and human service workers, the role of expressive arts in leadership & social change, and arts-based research methods, especially Cooperative Inquiry methodology. Her personal arts practices include improvisational theater, sacred chanting, creative writing and poetry. She's currently learning to play the didgeridoo. She is particularly interested in creating opportunities for students in the Expressive Arts Therapy program to be of joyful, creative service to under-served populations in the San Francisco Bay Area.



February 2010
Expanding the Circle: LGBTQII in Higher Education, San Francisco
Terms of EnQueerment: Expanding the Circle in Curriculum and Classroom Practice
Panel presentation With Dr. Matthew Bronson, CIIS and Dr. Terri Davis, JFK University

March 2010
Integral Consciousness Conference, CIIS, San Francisco, CA
Sexuality & Language presentation With Dr. Matthew Bronson, CIIS
This presentation showcased an integral approach to education through the lens of a transciplinary graduate-level class on Sexuality and Language.

June 2010
Drama Therapy & Social Justice, taught session in Drama Therapy Program, CIIS, San Francisco, CA
Drawing in, Acting out, Moving on! Transforming Social Paralysis into Social Action Through Expressive Arts

October 2010
Performing the World, NYC, NY
Moving through fractured whole(s): re-membering the world together
Performance and workshop co-led with CIIS colleagues Denise Boston, Sonya Shah, Anne Bleuthenthal and Arisika Razak on how we have been using arts-based processes to support one another, work through conflict and transform our shared world(s) together.

November, 2010
Expressive Arts Summit, NYC, NY
Roots, Rhythm & Role Play: Nourishing the Tree of Life
Co-presentation with EXA alumna, Francisca Lizana

February, 2011
Msc Program in Sustainable Economics & Social Responsibility, Ashridge Business School, Berkhamsted, UK
Embodying Change: Transforming Social Paralysis into Social Action through Expressive Arts

February, 2011
PhD Program in Systemic Psychotherapy, University of Bedford, Luton, UK
Embodied and Performative Approaches to Research in Systemic Therapies

February, 2011
Bradford Relate, Bradford, Yorks, UK
Tree of Life Through Theatrical and Expressive Arts
Daylong experiential workshop for relationship counselors

February, 2011
The Systemic Café, Keighley, Yorks, UK
Tree of Life Through Expressive Arts
Daylong experiential workshop for relationship counselors, incorporating case consultation using psychodramatic techniques

July, 2011
International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference, Salvador, Brazil
Roots, Rhythm & Role Play: Tree of Life Through Expressive Arts
Co-presentation with EXA alumna, Francisca Lizana

May 2012
The Audacity of our Ancestors: Reclaiming Jewish Activism
Community dialogue facilitation, Shaare Zahav, San Francisco

March 2013
International Expressive Arts Therapy Association, Berkeley, CA
1. Temenos in the Tenderloin: Sustaining Communities through Expressive Arts Therapy

2. Navigating the Winds of Change through Narrative Expressive Arts Therapy co-facilitated with Danielle Burnette

Expanding the Circle Conference, CIIS
Expanding the Bridge: Intergenerational Dialogue and Story-Telling for Queer Educators, Leaders, and Allies, co-led with Matthew Bronson, PhD

April 2014
American Society for Group Psychology and Psychotherapy (ASGPP), Annual Conference, Oakland, CA
Soul of Drama Therapy with Saphira Linden, Founder and Director, Omega Transpersonal Drama Therapy Certificate Program

June 2014
UK National Health Service (NHS) Psychotherapists, Gallery, London, UK
"Laundry of Life": An innovative, home grown narrative expressive arts therapy practice. Experiential presentation

October 2014
Performing the World Conference, 2014
Leading through Expressive Arts: Actualizing the Yet-to-be-Imagined. Presentation with Nika Quirk, MBA, PhD on Simons and Quirk's innovative model of organizational and leadership expressive arts called Arts-based Practices for Relational-Cultural Leadership

November 2014
North American Drama Therapy Association, Annual Conference, Yosemite, CA
"Laundry of Life" with Danielle Burnette



Couple Therapy with Lesbians in Couples Therapy Handbook, Ed. Dryden, W. UK: 1990 Open University Press

Power, Control and Organizational Silence: Using Team Inquiry to Engender Multilogue: Part 1

Power, Control and Organizational Silence: Using Team Inquiry to Engender Multilogue: Part 2

Searching for Fritada in Sephardi and Mizrachi Women Write About Their Lives. Bridges(1) Vol 7, 1998

How Much Can You Bend Before You Break? An Experience of Using Constructionist Consulting as a Tool for Organizational Learning in the Corporate World European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. 9(2). 159-175, 2000

How Can We Foster Respect Within School Communities? Opening the Circle in Perspectives with Seigle and Sankowski, in Massachusetts Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: Boston, MA, 2003

Transforming Paralysis into Action using Dramatherapy in Dramascope Vol 29, No. 2, 2008

The Heart of Hearing: A Story of Transformative Leadership & Sustainable Development in a Small New England City

Ripples Across the Pond: In Honor of the Pink Practice 20 Years on in Context October 2010 No. 11

Fine-Tuning the Listening Heart in Social, Emotional, and Spiritual Issues with R. Gafni in Jewish Education ed. Kress, Jeffrey. NYC: URJ Press, 2013

Temenos in the Tenderloin in The Heart and Soul of Psychotherapy: A Transpersonal Approach Through Theater Arts

Fine Tuning the Listening Heart: Weaving Together the Teaching of Jewish Ethics & Socioemotional Learning in Social, Emotional, and Spiritual Issues in Jewish Education with R. Gafni. ed. Kress, Jeffrey. NYC: URJ Press, 2011