EXA Co-Sponsors International Conference in BerkeleyPosted on Jun 18 2013

By Kasey Varga

This year, CIIS co-sponsored the biannual conference of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association at the Doubletree Hotel in Berkeley. Denise Boston, core faculty for CIIS' Expressive Arts Therapy program, worked in collaboration with Jacob Kaminker, core faculty in the Counseling Psychology-Holistic program at John F. Kennedy University, and Doreen Maller, EXA alum and chair of the Expressive Arts Therapy program at Sofia University (formerly Institute for Transpersonal Psychology). The partnership between these three universities is something to celebrate.

The conference drew over 300 attendees and was represented by 22 different countries. International presentations included Fiona Chang, founder of the EXA training program at the University of Hong Kong; Kyoko Ono, founder of Expressive Arts Therapy Institute and NPO Artwork Japan in Tokyo; and Mateusz Wiszniewski, who leads programs in Expressive Arts and relaxation in Poland.

The conference also featured many faculty, former faculty, students, and alumni of the CIIS EXA program, including: Danielle Burnette, Kate Donohue, Delfina Piretti, Denise Boston, Shoshana Simons, Jo Sopko, Phil Weglarz, Maria Gonzalez-Blue, Shellee Davis, Armand Volkas, Deborah Koff-Chapin, Linda Hammond, Rosa Granadillo-Schwendtker, Bonnie Bernstein, Sylvia Israel, Juztino Panella, Ali Sideroff, Suraya Keating, Stella Bay, Francisca Lizana, Nicoltte Sweeney, Patricia Rojas-Zambrano, John Hanig, Shih-Chen Hsu, and Emilio Juri!

Among the workshops offered by the EXA community were: Integrating Plant Spirit Healing with Creative Arts; Arts-Empowerment-Activism: Healing Psychological Trauma in Kolkata; Art and Impermanence; Temenos in the Tenderlion; and Wind Said to me: Stories of Place and Inhabiting Earth.

Highlights included a "beautifully inspired keynote from beloved elder, Natalie Rogers", opening and closing rituals facilitated by Patricia Rojas-Zambrano, and a wildly eclectic open mic with heartfelt performances ranging from stand up comedy to a celebration of gender on roller skates.

IEATA is proud to announce that the 2015 conference will take place in Hong Kong! Already, student volunteers from the EXA department at CIIS are working on creative ways raise money for students to attend. "We hope to have inspired people to action," says EXA core faculty and four-year IEATA board member, Phil Weglarz. "You don't have to be licensed to join IEATA. You can be a student, artist, activist, or even a therapist who doesn't currently use the arts." He also makes a point to mention that IEATA is going through a transition in board membership, which means they are actively recruiting new board members for the future.

*If you are interested in joining IEATA or becoming a board member email

The expressive arts therapy community is ever growing and is undoubtedly establishing itself worldwide. Not only are the IEATA conferences opportunities to see how cultures from all over the world are incorporating the expressive arts in healing, they are a place where some of the pioneers of the field come together with a whole new generation of artists, activists, and practitioners who are coming up with things like, "Digital Remix Therapy" and "The Movements of the Weather as an Interactive Indoor Therapy."

The Bay Area has been fortunate enough to host two of the IEATA conferences since the organization formed in 1994. The EXA department at CIIS would like to extend a very special thank you to Denise Boston for going far above and beyond the call of duty to make this years' conference a great success!

Kasey Varga Headshot

Kasey Varga is the Alumni Liaison and the Online Communications Manager for the Expressive Arts Therapy Program. She also has a private psychotherapy practice in San Francisco where she specializes in romantic relationship.



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