Exploring Trauma through Expressive Art

Exploring Trauma through Expressive Art

Archive of Web Conference under Post-Conference Resources tab



Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 1:30 pm CST


Sometimes trauma occurs and there just is no language available to describe it.  Sometimes, the subject matter is too heavy for words; sometimes the incident happened before language was acquired, and sometimes, the memories are tucked too deeply in the psyche to retrieve with mere words. In any of these instances, art can often be an appropriate means for healing and strength. Teaching artist Maria Ojascastro will present several examples of visual art exercises that create a safe environment for expressive art, and provide step by step instructions. Licensed Professional Counselor Erika Ottolini will give an overview of how trauma effects the brain and how art can alter the brain in a positive manner.

Workshop Objectives:

  • Learn how to use creative expression to soften experienced trauma.
  • Learn to use art to gain trust and open conversation with children and adults.
  • Learn how to examine loss or trauma by creating something physical.
  • Learn how to use art as a vehicle for personal expression and healing.
  • Learn how trauma affects the brain and how art can alter the brain in a positive manner.
  • Learn to use neuroplasticity to our advantage and to rewire the brain.





Maria Ojascastro provides professional development workshops, and teaches group and individual art classes. She has been a visual arts faculty member at the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) since 2007. As a community arts trainer, she has presented CEU workshops for many educational and cultural institutions including The Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, The Missouri Mental Health Counselors Association and The Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma. She collaborates with licensed therapists, published authors and other teaching artists. Ojascastro received a Masters of Fine Arts from Washington University in St. Louis and studied at Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence Italy. For more information, please visit

her website at www.mariaojascastro.webs.com


As seen on a Sussex Directories Inc site

Erika Ottolini, MAT, MEd. LPC, NCC is a Licensed Professional Counselor, with a Master’s of Arts in Teaching and a Master’s of Education in Counseling. She has worked as a teacher and counselor in school and community settings throughout the  country since 1994. She is Director of Family Services at the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma, coordinating care for the myriad needs of immigrant families.  She oversees the Open Door International Mentoring program for immigrant youth in St. Louis and supervises mentors, interns, and graduate level students assisting with that program. She is also a clinical therapist in private practice. Trained at the University of Missouri­ St Louis, one of the country’s nationally ­renowned CACREP­ accredited institutions, she is nationally­ board certified.


Registration Fee:

Free (CEU for $15 fee at time of program)
No pre-registration needed



The University of Missouri, Missouri Institute of Mental Health will be responsible for this program and will maintain a record of your continuing education credits earned. MIMH will award 1 clock hour or 1.2 contact hours (.1 CEU) for this program. MIMH credit will fulfill Clinical Social Work and Psychologist licensure requirements in the State of Missouri. Attendees with licensure from other states are responsible for seeking appropriate continuing education credit, from their respective boards for completing this program.

License information for Missouri residents: http://pr.mo.gov/professions.asp

[tab:Post-Conference Resources]

Slides in PDF format

Maria Ojascastro www.mariaojascastsro.webs.com; [email protected]

Artist Paint Boarded up Storefronts on South Grand http://vimeo.com/112951272

Center of Creative Arts, 524 Trinity Avenue, University City, MO 63130; www.COCAstl.org

Dance the Dream Ferguson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZL6lMZO68c

Ferg­Flor students spend week with volunteers, St. Louis American http://www.stlamerican.com/news/local_news/article_c60a96da­2a3a­11e4­b230­0019bb2963f4.html


National Institute of Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine www.nicabm.com http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/26/17917140­painting­for­peace­boston­children­turn-to­art­to­healPainting for Peace

http://paulfromstokeuk.com/ Maria’s favorite relaxing music from an independent musician

Poem by Broadway Stars https: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpfTos6NroM

Refuges overcome Trauma http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine­23415097

Using Creativity to Bring Lasting Change http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/people/using­creativity­to-bring­lasting­change­1.1538425