Expressive Arts Therapies with Survivors of Torture

This webinar, from 6/23/2010, features Amber Gray.

This webinar is part of the National Capacity Building (NCB) webinar series. NCB is a project of the Center for Victims of Torture.


Average: 4.5 (2 votes)


Wednesday, 23 June 2010

This webinar promotes the use of expressive arts therapies, or those utilizing movement, art, dance, music, rhythm, drama, and/or poetry. It is intended for expressive arts therapists, though non-practitioners can include applicable elements in their practices as well. Although each of the aforementioned therapies is briefly expounded on, the primary focus of the webinar is to emphasize three main points. First, human development and growth are deeply creative processes. Second, the body physically retains trauma that is difficult to access through speech but can be addressed through the senses and emotions. Finally, while expressive arts therapies are still an emerging field, scientific research is currently underway, much of which supports the efficacy of these therapies. The webinar also includes a case example regarding the use of movement therapy.

The presentation begins with an exercise that requires a figure. We recommend you download and print out the figure before watching the webinar. (attached)

Web sites

For help in locating an art therapist in your area: Art Therapy Credentials Board

Amber's web site:

Articles & Publications

Amber Gray made reference during this presentation to a chapter she wrote for a publication on promising practices in the field of torture treatment that the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture has coordinated and published through TORTURE journal. Read the article, or check out the whole issue of the journal (Volume 21, No. 1, 2011).

Callaghan, K. (1993). Movement psychotherapy with adult survivors of political torture and organized violence. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 20, 411-421. Available for Purchase

Callaghan, K.(1995). Torture—the body in conflict: The role of movement psychotherapy. In M. Liebmann (Ed.), Arts approaches to conflict. (pp. 249-272). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Preview available online.

Callaghan, K. (1998). In limbo: Movement psychotherapy with refugees and asylum seekers. In D. Dokter (Ed.), Arts therapists, refugees and migrants: Reaching across borders (pp. 25-40). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Available free online.

Gray, A.E.L. (2009). “Cultural Rituals Surrounding Healing”. San Francisco Medicine, 82 (5).

Gray, A.E.L. (2008). “Dancing in our blood: Dance Movement Therapy with Street Children and Victims of Organized Violence in Haiti.” In Jackson, N., & T. Shapiro-Lim, Dance, Human Rights and Social Justice: Dignity in Motion.. 2008: Scarecrow Press.

Gray, A.E.L. Gray (2009). "Expressive Arts Therapies: Working with Survivors of Torture.” In Alexander, A., & Winter, A.M., Best, Promising, Emerging Practices. 2009, Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services/Florida Center for Survivors of Torture. *This chapter includes a more extensive reference list for a variety of expressive arts therapies

Gray, A.E.L. (2001) “The Body Remembers: Dance Movement Therapy with an Adult Survivor of Torture”. The Journal of Dance Therapy, Vol 23, (1). pp. 29-43. Preview available online.

Harris, D. A. (2007). Dance/movement therapy approaches to fostering resilience and recovery among African adolescent torture survivors. Torture: Journal on Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and Prevention of Torture, 17(2): 134-155.

Harris, D. A. (2007). Pathways to embodied empathy and reconciliation: Former boy soldiers in a dance/movement therapy group in Sierra Leone. Intervention: International Journal of Mental Health, Psychosocial Work and Counselling in Areas of Armed Conflict, 5(3), 203-231.

Johnson, D.R., Lahad, M., & A. Gray. (2009). “Creative Therapies for Adults.” In Foa, E., Keane, T., Friedman, M. & J. Cohen, Effective Treatments for PTSD, Second Edition. 2009: The Guilford Press.

van der Kolk , B. A. (1994) The Body Keeps The Score: Memory & the Evolving Psychobiology of Post Traumatic Stress. Boston. Harvard Review of Psychiatry

van der Kolk, B.A. (2006) Clinical Implications of Neuroscience Research in PTSD. New York Academy of Sciences


Herman, J. (1997). Trauma and recovery. New York, N.Y.: Basic books.

Porges, S.W. (in press). Music Therapy & Trauma: Insights from the Polyvagal Theory. K. Stewart (Ed.), Symposium on Music Therapy & Trauma: Bridging Theory and Clinical Practice. New York: Satchnote Press.

Terr, L. C. (1990). Too scared to cry. New York: Harper Collins.

van der Kolk, B. A. (1996). The complexity of adaptation to trauma self-deregulation, stimulusdiscrimination, and characterological development. In B. A. van der Kolk, A. C. McFarlane,& L. Weisaeth (Eds.). Traumatic stress, 182-213. New York: Guilford Press.

van der Kolk, B., & M. Greenberg. (1987). Retrieval and integration of traumatic memories with the “painting cure.” In van der Kolk, B. (Ed.), Psychological trauma (pp. 191-215). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric press.


Schmais, C. Healing Processes in Group Dance Therapy (1985). The American Journal of Dance therapy, 8 (1), 1985. The Netherlands: Springer Publications.

Scott, E. H., (Speaker). (2002). Expressive arts therapy: The seven essential processes. On Mind-Body Conversations (CD No. 2), Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Associate Fellowship in Integrative Medicine.

Scott, E. H. & Ross, C. (2006). Integrating the creative arts into trauma and addiction treatment: Eight Essential Processes. In Psychological Trauma and Addiction Recovery. New York: Haworth Press. (PDF available for purchase and download)


Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.