IEATA Interviews: Sofia University

IEATA Educational Resources Committee member Martha McCaughey communicated with faculty and staff at Sofia University about their Creative Expression programs.
imagesMartha McCaughey:  What is your Program’s vision?
Sofia University: Creative expression is a powerful transpersonal and transformative vehicle for growth, healing, and wholeness.  
MM: Tell us about your educational programs.

Sofia:  At Sofia University, students can specialize in creative expression within two academic degree pathways: (a) Masters of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology and (b) Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology:

These pathways provide an educational background that supports application for the REACE or REAT credential.

Students have the option of choosing a residential, hybrid, or online master’s degree program.  Students are encouraged to use creative expression as part of their personal journey, to develop a creative exploration toolbox, and to apply it to their distinct professional callings.  Applications might include the arts, leadership, coaching, clinical practice, healthcare, education, global communication, research, or entrepreneurship.

A Certificate in Creative Expression for qualified non-degree student applicants is also offered.
We also offer a stand-alone Certificate in Creative Expression through the online master’s program, open to those with an undergraduate degree in a psychology-related field.

MM: Is any part of your programming open to the public as well as to students?

Sofia: The public is invited to attend one-day creativity offerings during the Global Master’s program seminars in the fall and spring quarters.  Workshops have included mask-making, mandala work, poetry, intention boxes, and community singing.  These workshops are set at retreat centers that offer both an indoor academic environment as well as beautiful outdoor, natural environments.  When enrolled in an online/hybrid program, students are required, as part of the online coursework, to engage with their community and to spend time outdoors.

The following video highlights alumna Elisha Sciscioli’s journey through the creativity and innovation specialization in the MATP program.
MM: What is unique about creative expression at Sofia University?

Sofia: The MATP and MACP programs at Sofia University invite passionate, dynamic learning that fosters creative exploration and multiple ways of knowing while embracing diverse paths of spiritual practice and personal development. The programs include heart-centered and earth-centered practices, and are grounded in transpersonal and spiritual psychology. We are committed to academic excellence, authenticity, inclusivity, cultural humility, ecological stewardship, and service to others.  Sofia University promotes six areas of inquiry: intellectual, emotional, spiritual, physical, social, and creative.  We value ecological consciousness and diversity.  

Students in these programs explore creative expression experientially and theoretically in an intermodal fashion.  The academic experience is continually deepened through creative connection.  Students learn to embody the creative spirit and weave it into their personal and professional lives.  Coursework includes creative applications to specific content areas such as dreamwork and eco-spirituality, practicum experiences, creativity-centered scholarly writing, and showcase portfolios that highlight philosophy and applications of creativity.

A Sofia education invites students to explore and discover how creativity facilitates personal growth, authenticity, and imagination, while influencing professional and community well-being.

MM: Would you like to write a blog post?

Sofia: Yes, twice a year.  


Sofia University

PALO ALTO, CA and the World (online)

Admissions at Sofia University



Nancy Rowe, PhD


Prayer Arrow & Earth Day Meditation

an EXPRESS Earth Day activity

by Dr. Roxanne Daleo, Co-Chair, Educational Resources Committee, IEATA

Age Level: Preschool to Adult

EarthDay Meditation for Kids.jpg


  1. To acquaint children to the elements of the planet Earth
  2. To use ritual in facilitating a reverence for the Earth in the heart and minds of children
  3. To illustrate the interconnectedness of all living things
  4. To make a personal prayer to heal the Earth and ourselves

Materials Needed: Pines cones, feathers, seashells, straight tree branches, various colored yarns


STEP 1. Gather in a circle round to share with the group the activity of creating a prayer arrow in honor of Earth Day.

STEP 2. In the center of the circle place a single basket of earth elem

ents or separate baskets for each of the elements

STEP 3.  Invite children to choose objects representing land, sea and sky to tie onto their prayer arrow.

STEP 4.  As the child wraps various colors of yarn around their branch. Ask them to repeat the prayer intention with each of three colors. For example, with this yarn of green “I send peace to all the animals and plants on the land.” With this yarn of white,”I send peace to all the birds that fly.” With this yarn of blue, I send protection to all the fishes and plants in the sea.”

STEP 5. Gather all the prayer arrows and children in the circle and have them stand to fully express their wishes about Earth Day.

STEP 6. Take the group to an open space in nature to “plant” their prayer arrows.

STEP 7. Regroup in a circle, using a drum beat, lead the meditation.

We all need to know we are connected to every living thing-

the soil, the water, the wind, the sun. 

We are the stewards of the EARTH. When we get in touch with 

this truth, we discover the power of nature within ourselves..

Let’s send love and appreciation to all that is-

Keep it simple, find a pine cone, feather, sea shell, flower

tie each onto a straight stick using a piece of colored yarn.   Now say:

This is the beginning of a new day, the Universe has given me this day

to  use as I will. In each moment there is power to choose. In each moment

I am exchanging a day of my life for it.

I want it to be love, not fear; goodness not meanness 

in order that I shall not regret what I have 

given. This is the beginning of a new day.

Now, place the stick in the ground as a promise to the Earth

to be a mindful steward so other children can walk with Beauty 

before them on this planet Earth.

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.



IEATA Interviews: Tamalpa Institute

IEATA Educational Resources Committee member Naomi Kimmelman had the pleasure of speaking with Daria Halprin of the Tamalpa Institute in San Rafael, California, U.S.A. on Jan. 16, 2018.  

Tamalpa Institute Website

  1. What is your Institute’s vision and philosophy?

The vision of the institute is to make accessible to a diverse public with diverse interests and needs the healing power of movement and the expressive arts. Tamalpa is interested and passionate about serving its local community and international communities.

Part of the Tamalpa Institute mission is to reach out globally as an educative but also as a healing force in the community. Embedded in the mission is Tamapla’s social engagement and social justice program (Tamalpa ArtCorps). See more about the Tamalpa Institute ArtCorps below.

“Dance and healing arts are for everyone – Tamalpa wants to make their approach accessible to everyone. We want to train people to be stewards of this work all over the globe.”

Tamalpa Institute is also about to celebrate 40 years of being a school/training center! The Tamalpa Institute was formed in the late 1970’s and is one of the earliest training institutes for movement and expressive arts! Before that, the Institutes methods and philosophy in dance and expressive arts were informed in the early 1950’s by Anna Halprin.

Tamalpa Institute

Tamalpa Institute

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

Yes! We offer public workshops, classes and an intensive training program comprised of three levels of training. We also have several international branches! Our main home and studio is located in the North Bay Area of California.

But, we have centers in France, Germany, South Korea, and the U.K. where you can engage in the first level of training for the intensive training program, and we have lots of chapters of Tamalpa graduates all over the world.

  1. What are your training programs; Their levels and length of time?

We offer a three level intensive training program. Level 1 is the Personal Embodiment segment of the training which teaches what our work is all about. The Level 2 training is our leadership and teacher training portion of the work and the Level 3 Training is our fieldwork segment of the training in which students bring this work out into the community, putting the work into practice.

The Level 3 training dovetails into the ArtCorps which is a student developed fieldwork project for social justice and work in the community.  The ArtCorps is similar to a peace core concept but grounded in expressive arts. ArtCorps programs are sponsored by Tamalpa and Tamalpa’s sponsors to take our work to folks that wouldn’t have access.

We have an immersion program which is full time (M-F) for two full semesters (9 month cycle). Students write papers, do research and engage in movement and expressive arts training.

We also have a weekend training program (Friday through Sunday) which is one weekend each month for two years.

We generally have four concurrent training programs running at a time and in the Summer, we offer training for students from the international branches–to come to the Mountain Home where this work began.  

  1. About how many students go through your programs?

We have approximately 50 students in the intensive training program every year. Workshops are probably about 100 people a year through Tamalpa Mountain Home in San Rafael. There are hundreds of people every year that participate in the wide reach of this work.  

For the intensive training programs, the first level training often starts with approximately 20 people give or take in each cohort (1st level). Gap years between levels is okay and there are often 12-16 people in 2nd/3rd year trainings at a time.

  1. Who goes through your programs? What is the population like?

We have a real mix of folks who come through our programs. In age, anywhere from folks in their early 20’s to 60’s is common.

People who come to train with us are artists who are looking to use art in a way that is educative or more actively engaging with and helping out in the community. We also get therapists wanting to learn more embodied somatic practices.

Our faculty represent these different interests. We employ educators, therapists and artists. We take an interdisciplinary approach.

  1. What kinds of space do you have and is it both indoors as well as outdoors?

We have a beautiful, historic indoor/outdoor studio. It’s one of the most renowned indoor/outdoor dance studios in the world. Public workshops are also offered at the local mountain home studio.

However, graduates are invited to bring this work all over! Individuals who have gone through our trainings teach at CIIS, Meridian University, travel all over Europe, EGS faculty, Saint Mary’s Faculty, and bring the work to different spaces in San Francisco and Berkeley to present our work in urban centers.

  1. As part of the ed resources committee, we are discussing the advantages of using social media technology for our educational resources section on the IEATA website. Would you be interested in social media outreach?


  1. Is IEATA posting the information you need?

YES, I’ve been a member since the beginning. For me the conferences are really important.

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

Another association that may be of interest to you marketing wise is the International Somatic Movement Therapy and Education Association. They do a quarterly email strain – in which people can place ads through them and post listings. The organizations that place ads need to be members of the association and need to meet a standard for excellence. This gives the quarterly email announcement substance and lists notorious substantial players and programs in the field. Its essentially advertising amongst joined associates and you need to meet a certain bar which focuses on institute/or well know practitioners and or pioneers.




IEATA Interviews: Appalachian State’s Expressive Arts Therapy Graduate Certificate Program

August, 2017

Educational Resources Committee Member Martha McCaughey interviewed Melia Snyder, Director of the Expressive Arts Therapy Graduate Certificate Program at Appalachian State University


Program website:

1. What is your Institute’s/Program’s vision?
The Appalachian Expressive Arts program educates and trains caring professionals to integrate all of the arts into their work and way of being in order to support human growth, development, and healing.

2. Is your programming open to the public as well as students?
We offer expressive arts workshops hosted by our honor society, Orchesis, which are open to the public.

3. What are your training programs levels and certification?
We offer a graduate certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy, which is
available to students currently enrolled in a related Appalachian State
Master’s program. We also offer a post-graduate certificate available to
those who have already received a related Master’s degree.

4. About how many students go through your programs?
Our enrollment varies, but we have approximately 20 students per year
who complete the certificate.

5. Are you open to new mentoring opportunities?
Yes! Our students and faculty value the larger web of expressive arts
that extends beyond the walls of our classrooms.

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

Due to our location in the Appalachian Mountains, we take full
advantage of the local landscape which informs our creative process.
Classes take place indoors in a studio type environment as well as

7. What would you say makes your program distinct? What are your
points of pride?
To our knowledge, we are the only Expressive Arts Therapy Certificate
program housed in a public university. Our emphasis on dreamwork,
ecotherapy, mindfulness, and ritual make our program unique.  We are
situated in the birthplace of four rivers flowing in the cardinal directions
and held by some of the most ancient and ecologically diverse
mountains in the world. This unique landscape inhabits our psyche and
influences and inspires our creative process.

8. What sorts of social media outreach do you engage in?
Facebook (Appalachian State Expressive Arts) and Instagram (AppStateExa).

9. Would you like to write a blog post for IEATA?
I would be interested in this.

10. Is IEATA’s website and/or blog posting the information you need?
We’d love to see more about the REAT/REACE process…specifically
support about the application and renewal processes.  That would be my
main suggestion for the IEATA Committee for Educational Resources.


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!

Indigenous Expressive Arts Exercise Invitation III

Rock Beings

Age Range: 3 to 100 (A young child can enjoy activity on a more simple level)

Objective: To connect to the greater landscape through seeking a broader sense of connection to a rock or stone, something generally conceived as inanimate and devoid of life in modern Western culture. In this exercise, we invite a more indigenous spirit to expand from what you ordinarily feel and think in relation to a rock or other earth elements that are not “living”. The question becomes, “Are they devoid of soul and spirit even if they are not considered living?”

*A little unlearning is invited by way of approaching this expressive exercise, as you’ll discover in the procedures.

 Inspiration: Tunkashila is a word that has complex meaning, something simplified as the “mystery of all life” in translation of Standing Bear. Within this tunkashila spirit, there is a reverence and connection to rocks as persons, something authors Grim, Walker and Densmore reflect in Grim’s article. This “tunkashila” has embedded within the Lakota culture a relationship to rocks as part of the greater connection to all things, rather than as inanimate objects wholly unrelated to us.

“Everything was possessed of personality, only differing from us in form. Knowledge was inherent in all things. The world was a library”  — Standing Bear

 Materials Needed:

  • A rock or stone found in nature
  • Markers, paints, oil pastels…
  • Small and long bristled-brushes for detail painting if rock/stone is small; choose hardy brushes that are not expensive as they take some wear and tear
  • *Permanent paint for outdoors (patio paint or permanent ink at art stores)
  • *Urethane Sealer if desired to keep in the garden/outdoors


  • Read the indigenous quote above. If inspired, read the article attached that gave inspiration for this exercise.
  • Take a few moments to engage in nature. 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 you can, 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. Allow yourself to be with nature and go with the intention of not finding a rock, but rather letting the rock find you. (This is where the unlearning comes into play. This is where the intellect will sabotage your connection to a rock or stone. If you can, trust the rock will find you). *Of course, make sure you’re in an environment that permits the taking of a rock!
  • Once you’re led to a rock, hold it in your hand with your eyes closed. Make sure you know this rock, sense this rock, and connect to the spirit of the rock.
  • If this is the rock that has found you, return to a quiet place in nature where you have your supplies.
  • This may feel sacreligious to now paint a rock spirit or being. It may feel better to keep this rock close and leave it in its natural state. You may sense the rock should remain where it is.
  • * If not, and painting or adorning it feels reverent and resonant, create any artistic reflection of the rock that emerges. You may find an image emerge from holding and contemplating the rock. Let the experience guide you in this process and emergence of an image.
  • My rock felt like a reminder of oneness and along came a sacred geometry image of earth elements in some unified design. Many painted rocks are animals, natural elements and organic designs.
  • Find a sacred place to keep the rock after painting it. Place it on an alter, in a garden, by your bed, in your home or office. Let it’s new home arrive by intuition if possible!

Special Consideration: Extracting from a deeply evolved and expansive culture’s sense of reverence and interconnectedness falls short of complete. In offering this “Western” take on indigenous wisdom, I hope to simply open a window to a deeper well of insight into the earth’s connection to all. This exercise was powerful and humbling for me and so it is in this spirit, I share it with the collective.

Download the exercise!


Reference: Grim, J. A. (n.d.). Indigenous Traditions and Ecology. Retrieved February 25, 2017, from

IEATA Interviews: TAE Peru

As spring slowly turns to summer, the timing is perfect for our interview with Ximena Maurial, Directora, TAE Peru, with its beautiful gardens and mosaics. Click here to read the TAE Peru interview in Spanish!


Wendy:  What is your vision for TAE Peru?

Ximena:  The goals of TAE Peru for the future are to continue developing therapies for the expressive arts that take the healing power of the expressive arts to the community, either in context or in clinical, educational, and community settings and to facilitate social change. Our wish is to continue integrating our previous knowledge, our traditions, rituals, and images through a process tied to the health and welfare of our communities. We are interested in shaping creative, autonomous students, getting them ready to meet and face the environment.

Wendy:  Is your program open to the public as well as students?

Ximena:  We receive students from different professions who are dedicated to the different arts. People from different provinces of Peru and foreigners come to us, interested in being introduced to art processes related to promoting health and inspiring transformation. Our graduates have created centers in different parts of Lima and have participated in developmental projects with different populations.

Wendy:  What are your training programs, their levels, and lengths of time?

Ximena:  TAE Peru has three levels. We offer a year-long course of study that awards a diploma in Expressive Arts Therapies. The students in this program are in residence with us for a year. The second level is Preparation to Become an Expressive Arts Therapist, a three-year-long program. The third level is a Low Residency Diploma (two short residencies in two consecutive years). The people who want to become a Therapist after receiving a Diploma in Expressive Arts Therapy have to complete two additional years of study. In order to become a therapist in the expressive arts you need to study for three years at our Institution. The third modality we offer is our Low Residency Program. This modality is offered to students who live in different provinces of Peru and in foreign countries.

Wendy:  How many students participate each year?

Ximena:  Every year we receive close to 22 new students for the Diploma Program. Of that group, about 16 persons continue their studies and become Expressive Arts Therapists.

Wendy:  Are you interested in opportunities for becoming a mentor?

Ximena:  All the professors from TAE Peru are interested in the possibility of being a mentor to different students. Our work is basically centered in education. The development of our students is constant and as a team of professors we are continually enriching ourselves through seminars, supervision, and artistic practice. At TAE Peru our curriculum is quite broad and extensive, and each one of our professors has specialized in a different aspect of Expressive Arts Therapy.

Wendy:  What’s your classroom space like? Is it inside? Outside?

Ximena:  Our Center is in the city. I’m sending you some pictures of the two rooms in which we work…Both are connected by a garden. Once a year we create art communities in the field and during the year work with students on art and social transformation projects in the outskirts of the city.

Wendy:  Are you interested in more opportunities for communication through social networks?

Ximena:  We are very interested in extending our communication through networking. TAE Peru has been working in Peru for ten years. A great number of students have finished their studies and have taken the expressive arts to different fields. There is immense artistic wealth that they are discovering in their work with different populations. Many of our students have conducted very interesting research in expressive arts. We, as teachers, are constantly in development, forming. It would be very interesting to start an exchange through networking through social webs. We believe that this would nourish our discipline. Latin America has much to contribute from its traditions, myths, legends, and culture.

At TAE Peru we are beginning to use virtual learning for the students of the Low Residency program. This is a very important resource because it allows for people who live outside of Lima to be connected. It would be very interesting to connect with foreign teachers and students and begin to exchange experiences. The central work of TAE Peru is education. It would be very interesting to receive students from other places and also to give seminars in different places in Latin America.

Wendy:  Would you like to write a blog?

Ximena:  It would be very motivating to be able to write a blog. In TAE Peru we are five partners and I’m sure everyone would write a blog with a lot of enthusiasm.

Wendy:  What information does IEATA need to present on their website to best represent you?

Ximena:  Having the IEATA connection is something we value highly. Participating in its International Conferences has been a very enriching experience. Hosting the 9th International Conference in 2011 was an experience of deep learning, as well as participating in the First Latin American Congress in Guatemala. The information that the website presents about TAE could be more specific and give more details. Since last year we are offering the Low Residency Diploma to foreign students. We think that it would be interesting for this information to be on the IEATA website.

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone for the beautiful Earth Day images and rituals weaving together the arts with honoring the earth!

Click here to view

Our special thanks to Roselle O’Brien, Publications Committee, for working closely with us to create a wonderful EXPRESS Earth Day site! We sincerely thank Amy Morrison, Social Action Committee, David Eckelkamp, Public Relations, and Jacob Kaminker, Regional, for their collaborative spirit! And gratitude to Mitchell Kossak for his encouragement.


Wendy Phillips and Roxanne Daleo, Co-Chairs, Ed Resources