Trauma-Informed Practice Training: "When Words Are Not Enough"

by Trish Walsh and Galen Hutcheson


Over the last twenty years our understanding of the nature and healing of psychological trauma has grown significantly. Research has broadened our understanding of how traumatic memory is stored in both brain and body, and how working with implicit memory and sensory based interventions, are key to healing psychological trauma; particulary with those suffering from PTSD, complex, pre-verbal, and developmental trauma. 

This workshop will help participants learn how and why expressive art techniques can be very powerful tools for use both in the healing of trauma, and in fostering post-traumatic growth and resilience.

At this workshop you will learn how to incorporate a number of simple and powerful therapeutic arts tools into your therapeutic practice. You will come away with a ‘tool kit’ of interventions that you can use with clients to move through blocks to healing, process and heal explicit, implicit, and pre-verbal trauma, and to support resilience and post-traumatic growth.

This workshop is grounded in research and findings from leaders in neuroscience, interpersonal neurobiology, psychology, and trauma healing, including: Dr. Stephen Porges, Dr. Dan Siegle, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Dr. Bruce Perry, Dr. Peter Levine, Dr. John Briere, Dr. Allan Schore, Dr. Diana Fosha and Dr. Gordon Neufeld. 

This workshop is relevant to those working with adults or children, as well as those working with those affected by childhood, intergenerational, complex, single-incident, and environmental or community trauma. The skills learned can be applied to working with individuals, couples, groups and communities.

*Note: this workshop builds upon Trauma-Informed Practice Training Level 1, but the former is not a pre-requisite. Nor is any aptitude in art required. “Bad” artists and “Non-Artists” welcome! This workshop will be of interest to therapists, allied health providers, and anyone working with adults, children, families and communities impacted by trauma.

Certificate provided upon completion. 


Topics Covered:


  • Neurobiology of the Continuum of Trauma, and traumatic memories. 

  • What is meant by “bottom up” and “right brain” approaches; why they are critical components of healing trauma, and how expressive art techniques facilitate both. 

  • What we now know about how traumatic memory is stored: understanding implicit and somatic memory, and how expressive art tools can be highly effective for processing traumatic memory.

  • Begin to learn to use expressive art methods to foster grounding, anchoring, self-regulation and co-regulation, which are critical components of trauma healing.

  • Begin to learn how to use expressive art techniques to establish a felt sense of safety within the client which is foundational to effective trauma-informed work.

  • Begin to learn how to use expressive art techniques to maintain, and widen, a client’s ‘window of tolerance” during trauma processing.

  • Learn the role of the externalization of emotions and somatic experiences in healing trauma. Learn why sensory-based arts interventions are key to accessing and integrating the embodied experience of trauma

  • How to unlearn common art-making injuries

  • Start a ‘tool kit’ of simple therapeutic art techniques that you can use in your practice: participants will learn at least four arts-based methods that you can use with clients that are culturally responsive, trauma informed interventions. 

  • Learn how to apply the workshop material to work with individuals, families, groups or communities that have experienced acute trauma, complex trauma or intergenerational trauma.




Galen Hutcheson


Galen is an Art Therapist, leadership development specialist, certified coach, teacher, community and organizational group facilitator, and yoga instructor living in Vancouver, British Columbia. Galen is an Associate Faculty member and a guest lecturer at City University, and Instructor in the Masters of Education Counselling program, providing instruction to Masters of Counselling student interns. Galen has created and facilitated trauma-informed practice training workshops, and works with Early Childhood Educators and teachers to bring relational trauma informed, compassion focused and inclusive teaching and learning practices/principles into the classroom and community. Galen has worked with children, youth and families in individual and group settings in schools, community health organizations, correction facilities and counselling centres for more than 20 years. With an M.A. in Leadership and Learning, Galen also works with organizations, advocates, artists and teachers to communicate the value and necessity of equitable access to art education as an essential foundation for social emotional regulation, connecting to emotional intelligence and as a predictor of wellness, supporter of empathy and positive mental health outcomes. Galen in a lifelong learner continually adding layers of specialized training in diverse therapeutic modalities all informed by a trauma informed lens. Areas of specialization in trauma healing include: Relational, Somatic and Polyvagal focused body centered practices, Social Emotional Regulation, Mindfulness and Compassion focused therapy, Person Centered Theoretical Application, Solution Focused Practice, & a Sensorimotor Art Therapy Approach to Bilateral Body Mapping which used in the healing of trauma. For more info:


Trish Walsh

Trish is a counsellor, life coach, teacher, and trauma-informed practice training facilitator, located in Vancouver, British Columbia. Trish’s training and focus is in the area of Transpersonal Psychology, which integrates eastern philosophies within the framework of modern psychology. Since 2016 Trish has focused on developing and facilitating trauma informed trainings for university students, physicians, psychologists, and other mental health therapists who are interested in updating their knowledge and skills in the area of trauma healing.  In addition to Trish’s counselling practice, her work over the last twenty years has focused on knowledge translation: specifically, synthesizing research findings in medicine and mental health care to decision makers within Canada’s Federal and Provincial Governments, and to physicians, mental health professionals and other allied health care providers, along with corporations, community groups and the general public. Trish has tremendous passion for conveying research information in an engaging and easy to understand way, aiding decision makers in their funding and public policy decisions, and helping individuals to learn practical strategies for better health, happiness, and personal success. Trish has also consulted for a number of non-profit organizations and industries to bring health information to their organizations and through community outreach. For more



The Covid 19 pandemic presents mental health professionals and front line workers with unique challenges.  This workshop has been adapted to include more relevant information needed during this time to help us assist clients who are struggling with increased feelings of loneliness; who have been negatively impacted by isolation and distancing; along with a deepening and more experiential opportunity of the concepts learned in past Trauma-Informed Training Level 1’s.  (*Trauma-Informed Training Level 1 is not a pre-requisite for this workshop).


Background: In addition to feelings of overwhelming helplessness and uncertainty, a primary component of trauma is disconnection: whether it be from self, other and/or the world. Our nervous system has evolved to respond to threats, and importantly, it has evolved to interpret isolation and disconnection as a perceived threat - invoking prolonged threat response cycles and increasing the symptoms of unresolved trauma. (much research has been done regarding this following other pandemics, including research by the University of Toronto following the SARS crisis which saw significant increased rates of depression and PTSD symptoms associated with isolation).


 As with a trauma response, isolation and the societal fear caused by the current pandemic can lead to chronic shutdown, collapse, fear, helplessness, anxiety and depression; presenting as a myriad of symptoms within ourselves and our clients. 


 During the current pandemic we are inundated in the media and on the faces of loved ones and those at a distance, messages which may be interpreted as fear, triggering unhealed layers of adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and other past experiences of relational or systemic trauma. Our body unconsciously responds to isolation and cues of perceived threat with a neurobiological hijacking resulting in a freeze, flight, fight or shut down which is often below the level of conscious thought. This results in turning us away from the very things that we need in order to heal.


 The disconnection we are waking up to is linked to early morbidity, a long list of chronic health concerns, isolation, alienation and a failure to thrive. Now a pandemic has demanded we literally shut ourselves away from one another to stay safe. So how do we cope? How to we manage the dissonance that we have evolved to crave connection, but a virus necessitates increased levels of separation? 


  In the poignant words of AEDP founder, Dr. Diana Fosha, healing emotional suffering is found in the: “undoing of aloneness”. Research by Daniel Siegel, Dr. Stephen Porges and Dr. Kristen Neff, among many others, show that co-regulation, attunement, and allowing ourselves to be truly seen, and feeling that we are felt and understood by others are critical components of healing. Feeling connected and being held in a compassionate, attuned presence is a powerful source of not only trauma healing, but also for healing loneliness, healing empathy fatigue in front line/first responders, and for building resilience. Research now shows that these relational tools. and mindful self-compassion practices, are powerful tools to lessen and prevent PTSD symptoms, depression, and anxiety.


This workshop provides a theoretical framework, along with tools, practices, strategies, and opportunities to connect with learning partners to deepen your understanding of a growing body of trauma informed knowledge.

The workshop is grounded in neuroscience and informed by the work of: Dr. John Briere, Dr. Stephen Porges, Dr. Daniel Siegle, Dr Vivek Murthy, Dr. Kristin Neff, Dr. Chris Germer, Dr. Shauna Shapiro, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Dr. Peter Levine, Dr. Allan Schore, Dr. Rick Hanson, Dr. Mark Brackett, and Dr. Linda Graham.

This workshop is relevant to those working with adults or children, as well as those working with those affected by childhood, intergenerational, complex, single-incident, and environmental or community trauma. 

Certificate of Completion will be provided.





The Neurobiology, and the continuum, of Trauma, and Traumatic Memories

Understanding Intergenerational Trauma, Epigenetics, and new Research on the Healing of Intergenerational Trauma.

An Overview of the Signs and Symptoms of Trauma 

The Human 'Threat-Response Cycle' - why “ fight, flight, freeze” can be a misnomer. How this threat response is activated during isolation and distancing and how to mitigate/heal the impacts.

The Relationship Between Unresolved Trauma, ACE’s and the Impacts of Social and Physical Distancing.

The Neurobiology of Physical, Social and Emotional Impacts of Loneliness 

How Triggers and Limiting Beliefs Related to Trauma are Formed and Healed

Overview of Polyvagal Theory and Neuroception - How our nervous system is impacted by trauma, perceives isolation and distancing, and how to build a felt sense of safety

Understanding Collective Trauma 

How to Use Zoom/other Online Platforms, and Telehealth to Maximize Your Therapeutic Effectiveness in Healing Trauma: research, tools and tips.

Updated Overview of Therapeutic Models that are Aligned with Trauma-Informed Practice and Facilitate the Healing Process.

An Overview of a Several New Somatic and Expressive Arts Methods Recently Developed to Heal Trauma.

Understanding the Concepts of Dual Awareness, Window of Tolerance, Therapeutic Window, Attunement, Resourcing and Titration, in Trauma Healing 

The Neuroscience of Mindfulness and Compassion: Research on Mindful Self-Compassion Practices used to Heal Trauma. Workshop participants will learn, and have an opportunity to practice, specific tools for healing trauma and the impacts of disconnection based on the work and research of Dr. Kristen Neff, Dr. Chris Germer, and Dr. Shauna Shapiro. 

Understand How Emotion and Trauma Memory is Discharged from the Body (including a brief overview of new trauma research from Dalhousie University’s Centre for Emotion and Health).

Helping Clients Build Resilience: additional tools, practices and strategies that you can use personally & with clients. 

Undoing Disconnection in the Time of Social Distancing