By Maria Gonzalez-Blue

Northern California on Pomo and Graton Rancheria Land

I believe every day should be Earth Day. Mother Earth sustains and holds us every day of our lives. A simple ritual of greeting her each morning honors her and connects us to our own innate nature. I teach Mixed Media Intuitive Arts through our local community college, on line now of course. I recently asked my students to create an organic piece in nature, taking photos we shared via our zoom class. Here is my piece. 

Labyrinth for Nature Spirits

Express Earth Day

Spontaneous Witnessing Response Poetry
By Diane McLeod

Deep into the earth, we must go.

Aki (Mother Earth) nurtures.

I love you, Makwa (Bear).

I love you, Aki.

I love you, Gitche Manitou (Great Energy/Great Love).

You are forever loved in a time of anguish.

You are healing medicines.

I am presently an art therapy student at Winnipeg Holistic Expressive Arts Therapy: Diploma Program (WHEAT) in Canada. I am mostly a self-taught artist that was born in Kenora, Ontario, Canada in 1965. I am from the Animakee Wa Zhing #37 First Nation located 76 km away from Kenora. I live in Kenora where I work as a professional artist. 

I am an Anishinaabe (Ojibway) and mixed cultured woman, and mother of three and from the Makwa Doodem (Bear Clan). My short experimental videos are informed and influenced by a spirituality of a higher self, guardians, and ancestors.

Katrina Plato – Adventure Specialist’s New Book

Differently Enabled Adventures

What was your vision for your book? Best answered from my Introduction page: 

This book felt destined from the moment I agreed to travel as an “Adventure Specialist” for Carrie. I simply allowed the content to emerge. I bought a cheap hand size imitation leather book to log my observations, and purchased one for Carrie. One journal for each of us. On our first night together, we created a writing format that we followed most of the year. Every day we worked together, at least five days a week, on the road or at home, one of us suggesting a writing prompt inspired from the day’s events. We took turns, swapping days. We set a time of 15 minutes of free writing on the topic of the prompt. Then we read aloud as much of our response as we wanted, the person who didn’t offer the prompt going first. We were faithful to the process, even recording our prompts and responses into a recorder when we were on the road and writing was inconvenient. 

I began a blog to document our journeys for our friends to read, and those that we met in our travels. Gradually, the blog took shape as I wrote, and then Carrie added her reflections. While playing with the format of the blog, I was inspired to create a special section recounting  the challenges of accessibility with Carrie’s wheelchair, and physical strength. I became fascinated with the cultural response to accessibility, as well as the wide variety of creative means of transportation we discovered. This section of the blog was also easy to keep up with while traveling. I posted photos or a short video and limited myself to two paragraphs capturing the essence of my observations. It felt manageable to write, and I hoped would be ‘accessible’ for those glancing through the blog. 

As our time of travel came to a close, I saw the structure of a book had emerged. Following the format of our writing prompts, I suggested we each write a note about accessibility. Instead of responding to a question, I suggested we allow photographs to be the inspiration for our writing. 

Why should you look at this book?  Whether you have a disability or not, I hope this book inspires you to live your life to its fullest capacity. Our first week of travel Carrie posed a question that lived with me as we traveled. She wondered if  people would exclaim, “Have you heard what Carrie and Katrina are doing now!?” It would be something unusual, yet make perfect sense if you knew the two of us. I am excited to share with you, the reader, what we discovered by the end of this short book. 

Who is your target audience/reader? My hope is that this book will touch the parts of ourselves that we hold back, whether we have a disability or not. I am inspired to take more risks in my life from having traveled with a woman who uses a wheelchair, and from meeting others with disabilities on our journey that live their lives with courage. 

Are you open to mentoring students who want to work with you? YES!! I welcome opportunity to mentor and learn from students. 

Would you be interested in posting a youtube video about your book and work? Yes, with guidance. 

Offer a description of your work. I’m working on that… at

Heather MacLeod, Director of Education at CTAAT – The Centre for Therapeutic Arts and Addictions Training

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Heather MacLeod, Director of Education at the CTAAT – The Centre for Therapeutic Arts & Addictions Training in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Here’s what she had to share with IEATA Educational Resources.

1. What is your Institute’s vision?

The vision for the institute began with a recognition of the need for an  integration of traditional approaches to addictions counselling with therapeutic and expressive arts. Over the past year as the idea has grown and developed, my intention was always to make the program accessible to any motivated learner, from anywhere in the world. CTAAT offers the Clinical Therapeutic Arts and Addictions Postgraduate Diploma (CTAAPD) program which prepares students to write the Certification Exam required by the Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation requirements toward becoming a registered a Canadian Certified Addictions Counsellor (CCAC). The CTAAT diploma program is unique in the ways a strong addictions counselling foundation is integrated with a focus on therapeutic expressive art in clinical practice. Individuals who are already credentialed or experienced as counsellors, psychotherapists, social workers and other relevant disciplines are invited to take the Therapeutic Arts and Addictions Certificate (TAAC) program. Our programs are fully online. Distance learning, and the removal of barriers that limit access to education, is a cornerstone of the vision for the school. Throughout the entire diploma program, and in each course designed and delivered, art-making and sharing are active components. The CTAAT Digital Learning Centre is well designed and student feedback has been extremely positive.  

2. Is your programming open to the public as well as students?

One of the limitations to the way this school functions is the requirement by the government’s Ministry of Advanced Education that ALL courses be delivered fully online. So in terms of an open door policy, there is no brick and mortar setting. Having said that, we are also in the process of setting up our telehealth services in a virtual clinic setting. These services will be available to the public. I expect over the next 1-2 years – if things go as I hope they do – a physical space with a flexible approach to the public will be possible. I expect this will come through services offered by the clinic which we also hope may serve as a practicum setting for some students completing the diploma program.

 3. What are your training programs levels and certification.

We offer the unique Clinical Therapeutic Arts and Addictions Postgraduate Diploma (CTAAPD) program which prepares students for several possibilities in terms of registration as therapists or counsellors. As I mentioned, the diploma program is a combination of coursework where students are learning by doing. In addition, we support practicum hours with supervision and prepare students to write the Certification Exam required by the Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation to qualify as a registered a Canadian Certified Addictions Counsellor (CCAC), Graduates of the diploma may also apply for Associate membership with the Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA), and hopefully (at minimum) eligibility for membership as a Registered Expressive Arts Consultant/Educator (REACE) with IEATA. Our program is also a pathway to qualify to write the exam and satisfy requirements for membership as a Registered Professional Counsellor with the Canadian Professional Counsellors Association. Professionals already working in the field are invited to complete the Therapeutic Arts and Addictions Certificate (TAAC) program. TAAC is offered in two levels, both levels with 4 courses each. They are the TAAC Foundations Certificate, followed by the Advanced Certificate. Completion of the TAAC program will hopefully prepares graduates for both the CATA and IEATA memberships described above.

 4. About how many students go through your programs?

Currently we have capped admission at 50 students per year for the Diploma Program, and the Certificate Program is more flexible. We have an open registration policy with flexible start dates as opposed to study organized by fixed semesters.

 6. What kinds of space do you have; is it outdoors as well as indoors?

As mentioned above, currently the ‘space’ is determined by the student. However, in addition to art-making that takes place in weekly digital classrooms (made possible by technology), there are weekly art-making processes and activities. This often means exploring outdoor spaces and organic materials, especially when environmental art-making is included in the course. It is a priority to keep the learning activities grounded in the communities students are either working in now, or hope to work in and with in the future.

7. Do you have any suggestions for the IEATA Committee for Educational Resources?

The challenge of developing educational resources can be complicated. I love the idea of electronically linking a searchable database of resources, however the question of copywrite, maintaining active and viable links etc., makes it a huge undertaking. It may be simpler to maintain an active resource related to workshops, conferences, schools and programs, each of which will provide specific resources of interest to those who engage, register or attend. As an FYI, I’m also very interested in Research possibilities.

For more information about CTAAT – The Centre for Therapeutic Arts &

Addictions Training, please visit:


Are you just discovering Expressive Arts and seeking a personal practice? Are you ready to start your training but not sure where to begin? Would you like to work from the comfort of your own home or studio?

Over the past few years, we have been carefully creating a menu of online offerings, and we want to tell you about them. We are dedicated to creating accessible content, with the high professional standards and intermodal approach that IEATA stands for. 

10 Steps Personal Expressive Arts Practice is our brand new, most basic online course. It is for you if you are just beginning to learn about this field. The place to start is always with a personal practice, as it allows you to learn by doing, and by witnessing the positive changes it makes in your own life. This is a self-study format. You can begin the day you register, and each step or lesson is dripped out to you over a 10-week period. If you are already an expressive arts therapist, practitioner, or educator, consider encouraging your clients or students to enroll in this course, and support them on their journey in your sessions.

Creative Wisdom: Introductory Online Training in Expressive ArtsThis course is an excellent starting point for your expressive arts training. Whether taken on its own, or as a pre-requisite for our full training program, it provides a comprehensive and concise grounding in this field, through both didactic information and original intermodal practices. You can get started on the day you register and work at your own pace. At the end, you will receive a Certificate of Completion, and CEU’s are available.

Expressive Arts Discovery These 90-minute workshops are live online via Zoom. We have been offering them monthly for the last few years. Through guided meditation, art-making, movement/sound explorations, writing and witnessing, you can connect with creative community from wherever you are in the world. Whether you are new to the field or just need a creative boost, you are invited to join the circle. A self-study version is also available. Visit our website for upcoming dates.

We hope this video inspires you. It is the three of us exploring, through spontaneous art-making, exploring one of our guiding principles – the health-giving nature of expressive arts.

WHEAT Institute

Guest Blog Post by Stephanie Scott 

The Winnipeg Holistic Expressive Arts Therapy (WHEAT) Institute offers top quality training in Art Therapy, Expressive Arts, Expressive Arts Therapy and Therapeutic Clowning in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Darci Adam, WHEAT Director, is a Registered Art and Expressive Arts Therapist with Masters’ Degrees in Drama and Educational Psychology (Counseling), as well as Diplomas in Education and Art Therapy. She is the Regional Representative for IEATA and the Manitoba Representative for the Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association Creative Arts Chapter.

WHEAT is committed to using the universal language of the arts for healing, self awareness and social justice. There are currently more than 30 students enrolled in diploma and certificate programs, plus dozens more whom drop in to select courses for professional development. Last fall WHEAT celebrated the first graduating class of Art Therapists in central Canada! WHEAT also co-hosted the 2017 IEATA Conference on Indigenous Roots of Expressive Arts in Winnipeg.

WHEAT is located on Treaty One Territory, the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation. WHEAT acknowledges current and past injustices committed against Indigenous peoples in Canada and globally and is committed to actively working towards reconciliation as an institute that respects, learns from and celebrates Indigenous peoples, Indigenous languages, Indigenous knowledge, and Indigenous knowledge keepers.

WHEAT classes are provided in a gorgeous urban retreat wilderness area at the St. Norbert Arts Centre in the Guest House at the Trappiste Ruins in St. Norbert, as well as at the Arthur Street Studio in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District.

WHEAT offers two-year diploma programs in Art Therapy (CATA) and Expressive Arts Therapy (IEATA), a 220-hour Expressive Arts Certificate, and is currently developing a comprehensive Therapeutic Clowning program with four of the top Therapeutic Clowns in Canada.

WHEAT invites American and international students to drop in to the magical, sensory world of healing through the arts and discover the arts’ playfulness and transformative power. There are exciting opportunities to train with internationally acclaimed faculty in Winnipeg this summer! Taking place in the tranquil, historic, natural setting of the St. Norbert Arts Centre these training opportunities are perfect for school counselors, resource teachers, educators, clinicians, therapists, healers and artists. Professional development and Expressive Arts certificate courses are open to international students. Course hours can be used towards registration as professional members of IEATA.

Register this spring to confirm your spot before classes fill up! Visit  and email info@wheatinstitute to learn more.

Expressive Arts Therapy Studio II with Dohee Lee Tamalpa-trained Korean-American performance artist July 22-25, 2019

Clowning in Expressive Arts Therapy with David Langdon Winnipeg’s most experienced Therapeutic Clown July 29 – 31, 2019

Working with Trauma using Expressive Arts with Kate Donohue (Master Teacher & Therapist and co-founder of IEATA) August 3-6, 2019

Expressive Arts Therapy: Psychopathology and Developmental Psychology with Kate Donohue August 8 – 11, 2019

Indigenous Ways of Knowing through the Arts with Victoria McIntosh (Indigenous artist, teacher & Elder) August 13 – 15, 2019

IEATA’s Expressive Arts Therapy Conference this Feb 28-Mar 3, 2019

Why should I attend a conference and especially the IEATA conference?  That is a question I ask myself every time I consider attending any conference.  Especially as a clinician in the expressive arts field working for myself this is an important consideration.  One thing I always focus on in any training that I am going to pursue is how this is going to support the work I am doing and what benefits I am going to get from it.

Rise UpThis conference in particular only happens every 2 years and this year we are honored to be having it in Berkeley, CA. This year’s conference topics are also focusing on very relevant topics  today’s struggles that most of our clients and we ourselves are dealing with on a daily basis in our culture locally and globally.   This conference’s theme of “Rising Up: The Evolution and Revolution of Expressive Arts,”  is focused on the education, support, and advocacy of the underprivileged, marginalized, and discriminated-against populations with the use of the creative arts to explore these meaningful and hard topics.  Allowing for a safe, nurturing, and passionately creative environment to learn, grow, and tend to our own needs as clinicians, students of this field, and conduits of change.

If you are not familiar with expressive arts therapy this is the place to be to learn and educate yourself on the research and modalities within the expressive arts that are beneficial tools to all practitioners in the field hoping to find new and/or different tools and skills to share with their clients. It’s a place of building not only knowledge, but rekindle passion or ignite it for the first time. It’s a place to meet others that work with similar modalities  and populations and/or to try something new that you have always wanted to explore.  It’s also a place to make connections that will last a lifetime. 

There will be pre-conference events and post-conference events along with three full days of the conference itself.  These conference days include key note speakers and breakout sessions to participate in the experiential’s themselves.  There will be time to explore research that is happening in our field with a poster session and a group think tank. Consider joining us not only for your exploration and continued support of your own education, but to connect to others in the healing field creating the energy behind the revolution that inevitably will come when we ban together. 

The IEATA Expressive Arts Therapy Conference takes place Feb 28-March 3, 2019 at the Doubletree Berkeley Marina, CA, U.S.A.

Early Bird Registration includes a discount for the conference and ends December 31, 2018. 

Check out the conference website!                     Check out the Facebook Page!

Yours sincerely,

Alynne Davis, M.A., LPCA, CMP
Clinical Mental Health Counseling; Expressive Arts Therapy; Certified MARI Practitioner




EXPRESS Earth Day 2018!


We are collecting your ideas for expressive arts activities to heal, educate, and make change for Earth Day 2018.  Here’s an example of a previous exercise submitted to us last year by Natalie Hogg.  Between now and April 30, we invite you to submit* your EXPRESS Earth Day activity in the following format:

Title or Name of Activity
Your Name
Population Activity is Best Suited for (eg, age range, etc.)
Materials Needed
Special Considerations/Adaptations 
To submit, just use the comment box above on this page!  Our IEATA Educational Resources Committee will compile the wonderful expressive arts activities to share with IEATA members.   
*In submitting your activity, you are consenting for us to share your activity with and through the IEATA organization.



Indigenous Expressive Arts Exercise Invitation IV

Collective Natural Element Mandala

Age Range: 3 to 100

Objective: To create a mandala or natural design as a collective group or family experiential. The objective is to connect to nature, seek natural elements found through a nature exploration, calling on a childlike sense of play and curiosity.

*This natural mandala can be created by an individual as well as with a group.

Inspirational quote: “Each person’s life is like a mandala – a vast, limitless circle. We stand in the center of our own circle, and everything we see, hear and think forms the mandala of our life.”   –Pema Chodron

“The word mandala means ‘circle’. A mandala represents wholeness, a cosmic diagram reminding us of our relation to infinity, extending beyond and within our bodies and minds. The mandala appears to us in all aspects of life, the Earth, the Sun, the Moon and more obviously the circles of life encompassing friends, family and communities”.

Materials Needed:

  • A natural area to roam through and collect/gather natural elements
  • Bag with pouches to gather varying elements (wildflowers, sticks, leaves, rocks, pinecones, berries)
  • An surface to create your collective mandala (indoors or outdoors)
  • Native flute music or classical music if mandala is completed indoors (if desired)


  • Read the quotes above and meditate on your collective connection to the mandala and its meaning for you both collectively and individually.
  • Take a few moments to engage in nature by offering a group directive to connect to the natural environment. Take a walk as a walking meditation, following the breath in and out or noticing the sights, sounds, and scents as you connect to nature.
  • If desired by the group, take your shoes off and ground your body in the grass or dirt to feel the earth and charge your body.
  • Wander around and go where you feel led as individuals. Each person can follow their own inner guide to collect what they are drawn to. Allow yourselves to be with nature and go with the intention of gathering natural elements that speak to you.

* Be curious, turning things upside down and looking at nature anew!

  • Gather what’s beautiful, curious, forgotten, mystical, natural, wondrous, normally forgotten or perceived as devoid of beauty…
  • Once your family or collective community has gathered all the natural elements they desire, find a sacred circle or space to create the mandala.
  • In forming a mandala, it’s nice to commence and give order to the organic process by placing some elements in the center of the area to create from the inside out of the circle. (If you are outside by a small pond or waterfall, this may be the center of your mandala as well). The mandala can be large or small, symmetrical or asymmetrical.
  • Allow the group to work in its own rhythm, creating in silence to engage in a meditative and collective creative process. (There becomes a kind of order to the chaos, as is the nature of mandalas).
  • Once the last of the elements is placed, feel free to move around and observe the mandala from all angles.
  • After the process, a group or family discussion about the meaning and experience around this process can bring closure.

*I’ve led this activity with both my family as well as two different groups of colleagues. Each time, the process is different. Every result is beautiful and unique. There is a tremendous harmony that emerges in the group regardless of who engages in the process.

Special Consideration: When a group is forced to relocate the experiential due to weather or timing, etc., the energy and silence of the group can be severed. Bringing in meditative music or reading a quote about nature or oneness can create a holding space again and re-focus the group to create the mandala.

Group holding: Let go of rules, but create a small bit of structure and guidance for a group to help people feel playful and safe in the exercise.

Plan to be surprised! People who would not normally be inclined to do something like this can be very engaged and offer something very important to the collective. A child may create the order for the adults and an adult may bring the needed spontaneity. In the photo below, a child formed the word love from leaves with remaining earth elements.

Download the exercise!