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Digital Seminar

Expressive Arts to Build Safety and Connection with Your Most Vulnerable Clients

Dana Wyss, PhD, LMFT, ATR-BC
1 Hour 30 Minutes
May 06, 2021
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Digital Seminar
Never expires.


Trauma and division are everywhere around us, which has further isolated children and adolescents and exacerbated many of our mental health concerns. Along with increases in overall rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation, many human rights organizations estimate that rates of human trafficking cases have risen by 185% in the midst of the Covid pandemic.

This is a hard population to reach as they are stuck in survival mode and continuously being retraumatized.

We may struggle to see this impact—as we are all in a collective state of overwhelm—leading us to misinterpret the trauma responses and behaviours of our clients and ourselves.

Join Dana Wyss, PhD, ATR-BC, as she shows you how expressive arts can act as a bridge between us and these clients, and how we uniquely address social and emotional needs for ourselves and our clients.


Dana Wyss, PhD, LMFT, ATR-BC's Profile

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Star View Adolescent Center

Dana Wyss, PhD, LMFT, ATR-BC, is a board-certified art therapist, a marriage and family therapist, holds a doctorate in expressive therapies, and is the coauthor of The Invisible String Workbook. As director of training at a psychiatric hospital, secure group home, and non-public school, Dr. Wyss specializes in clinical supervision, staff training, and treatment of complex developmental trauma. Her 20 plus years of an expressive therapies background has led her to create individual and group programs integrating art, music, poetry, dance and animal-assisted therapy in the healing process for clients and the self-care of staff. She has a passion for helping individuals reconnect with their passion, creativity, and hope. Dr. Wyss is a national trainer and consultant for The Center for Trauma Training and a state-wide trainer and consultant to provide workshops and raise awareness of commercial sexual exploitation of children and young adults.

Dr. Wyss received her undergraduate education from Florida State University where her studies focused on psychology, art, and English. After a few years traveling the world, she settled in Southern California working as a group leader for children with complex developmental trauma. She then pursed a master’s degree from Loyola Marymount University where she learned the true healing nature of expressive therapies. Dr. Wyss Worked and created art throughout the next few years. her love of art, research, and desire to expand her education led her to Lesley University where she completed her doctorate. Although she has many research interests, her current research focuses are using art-based research to build empathy and understanding for self-injurious behaviors, the use of exotic animal assisted therapy in residential treatment, and the impact and effect of non-traditional materials in art therapy sessions and group therapy. Dr. Wyss resides in Southern California where she continues to love to travel the world and create her own art for self-care and healing.


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dana Wyss has employment relationships with Star View Adolescent Center, Nola Brantley Speaks, and Center for Trauma Training. She receives royalties as a published author. She is an exam writer at ATCB and reviewer for both ATCB and Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education and Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Dana Wyss receives a speaking honorarium and recording royalties from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dana Wyss is a member of American Art Therapy Association and Association for Play Therapy.

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Program Information

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.


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  1. Determine four ways that expressive arts assist with the healing process.
  2. Distinguish between the scope of practice of talk therapy vs expressive arts.
  3. Design a treatment plan to include expressive arts in either their personal work with clients or as a treatment team with adjunct professionals.
  4. Demonstrate how to incorporate Maslow’s hierarchy of needs into your assessment and therapy practice in a creative way.


Expressive Arts with Commercially, Sexually, Exploited Youth

  • Video case study
  • A visual experience of art to support healing for youth who have been commercially sexually exploited
  • Understand the use of expressive arts vs being an expressive arts therapist

Why the Arts Work

  • Discussion on how the creative process allows for a deeper level of knowledge and understanding of self
  • Assess physiological needs and safety in a non-intrusive way
  • Helps to avoid or heal attachment ruptures and support belonging and love
  • Builds Confidence and Self Esteem

Take Away Activity 

  • Maslow’s Hierarchy (allows for psychoeducation, creativity)
  • Profound, powerful tool to support needs instead of assuming need
  • Resources shared

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Therapists
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Other Professionals Who Work within the Mental Health Fields

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