If you are curious about the Expressive Arts Therapy field, here are some materials you can immerse yourself with to learn more about it:


  • Malchiodi, C. A. (Ed.) (2005). Expressive therapies. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Dr. Cathy Malchiodi is a prominent voice in the field of Expressive Arts Therapies. Her publications have made these concepts and research in our field widely accessible to practitioners and the general public. Her most recent works focus on the healing principles of EXA when working with clients who have experienced trauma. This text offers a very helpful, efficient introduction of the major creative and expressive arts therapy disciplines.

From the publisher: Psychotherapists, counselors, and other health care professionals are increasingly turning to expressive therapies–including art, music, dance/movement, drama, poetry, play, sandtray, and integrative approaches–in their work with clients of all ages. This timely volume offers a comprehensive presentation of these innovative and powerful modalities. Expert contributors present in-depth descriptions of their respective approaches to intervention with children, adults, and groups, giving particular attention to strategies for integrating expressive work with other forms of psychotherapy. 

  • Afuape, T. (2011). Power, resistance and liberation in therapy with survivors of trauma: To have our hearts broken. New York, NY: Routledge.

Dr. Taiwo Afuape's work is foundational to the pedagogy of the EXA Program. She has reconceptualized the concepts of power, resistance and liberation as co-creative acts that take place in therapy and in life for both clients and practitioners alike. Through liberation psychology, Dr. Afuape outlines a vision for co-create healing practices that honor the wisdom and agency of all involved in healing processes.

From the publisher: This book draws together narrative therapy, coordinated management of meaning (CMM) and liberation psychology approaches. It critically reviews each approach and demonstrates what each contributes to the other as well as how to draw them together in a coherent way. The book presents an original take on CMM through the lenses of power and resistance; a new way of thinking about resistance in life and therapy; and a method of using the metaphor of creativity via numerous case examples to support strong theory-practice links.
Through the exploration of power, resistance, and liberation in therapy, this book presents innovative ways of conceptualizing these issues. As such it will be of interest to anyone in the mental health fields of therapy, counseling, social work, or critical psychology, regardless of their preferred model. It will also appeal to those interested in a socio-political contextual analysis of complex human experience.

  • Menakem, R. (2017). My grandmother’s hands. Las Vegas, NV: Central Recovery Press.

This recent publication by Mr. Resmaa Menakem shifts the focus of racism to the body. This ground-breaking text is part of the required reading for the Family Systems course sequence in the EXA program.

From the publisher: The body is where our instincts reside and where we fight, flee, or freeze, and it endures the trauma inflicted by the ills that plague society. In this groundbreaking work, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of body-centered psychology. He argues this destruction will continue until Americans learn to heal the generational anguish of white supremacy, which is deeply embedded in all our bodies. Our collective agony doesn’t just affect African Americans. White Americans suffer their own secondary trauma as well. So do blue Americans—our police.

My Grandmother’s Hands is a call to action for all of us to recognize that racism is not about the head, but about the body, and introduces an alternative view of what we can do to grow beyond our entrenched racialized divide.

  • hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York, NY: Routledge. 

A classic in the field of education, Womanist activist/scholar/educator bell hooks' treatise on teaching as an act of rebellion in the name of freedom informs the foundational pedagogies of the EXA Program. As a community of learners, we are all gathered together to become contributing Scholar/Artist/Practitioners in the wider field of Expressive Arts Therapy.

From the publisher:  bell hooks--writer, teacher, and insurgent black intellectual--writes about a new kind of education, education as the practice of freedom.  Teaching students to "transgress" against racial, sexual, and class boundaries in order to achieve the gift of freedom is, for hooks, the teacher's most important goal.

bell hooks speaks to the heart of education today: how can we rethink teaching practices in the age of multiculturalism? What do we do about teachers who do not want to teach, and students who do not want to learn? How should we deal with racism and sexism in the classroom?

Further reading for fun and personal development:

  • All of the works of Brené Brown. Her books and her podcasts invite us all into conversations about living open-hearted lives of connection and authenticity. Plus, she is probably the most widely read qualitative researcher in the world (a great example of the Scholar/Artist/Practitioner model). https://brenebrown.com/

  •  From journalist and author Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic is a guide to infusing life with creative spirit. This book explores how and why we are called to creativity and ways to nourish this gift in everyday life. https://www.elizabethgilbert.com/books/big-magic/


Gain Experience

Before entering into the world of Expressive Arts Therapy as a graduate student, we recommend that you get involved in the community. Practical experience in human services and the arts in your community are important parts of your learning experience before entering a training program. Here are examples of ways that you can gain experience:

Volunteer at an LGBTQ center, Youth Services Center or another human services organization.

Get training and volunteer for a suicide hotline or a Survivors of Domestic Violence hotline

Attend cultural events related to a background other than your own and explore arts modalities other than modalities you have trained in.

  • Attend arts performances, lectures, movies, or cultural events (please practice safety measures during COVID-19 -- many events have gone online!)
  • Ask a friend from a spiritual practice other than your own if you may worship with them
  • Take a class that teaches you about cultures other than your own locations of identity
  • Read books (see above for some suggestions)
  • Study forms of art that are unfamiliar to you. If you are a singer, study painting. If you are a ceramicist, study singing. If you are a poet, study improv. The sky is the limit!

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