The course is designed to explore the challenges of providing relevant and responsive therapeutic interventions to marginalized communities on the Island of Hispañola through experiential exploration of the dynamics and intersectionality of poverty, race and trauma and the postcolonial implications of introducing art materials within an international context. Students analyze the productive and destructive potentials of therapeutic processes, which are grounded in predominately Eurocentric theoretical frameworks, and thoughtfully orient expressive arts therapies to local communities.

Course Objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, the student should be able to:

  1. Differentiate the various forms of trauma including acute, complex, historical and intergenerational.
  2. Integrate their understanding of trauma into the development of relevant therapeutic engagements that are informed by cultural context.
  3. Examine and mediate the challenges of providing culturally sensitive therapeutic interventions with “marginalized communities” through a focused self-directed introspective analysis of implicit biases and stereotypes that negatively influence therapeutic relationships.
  4. Explore the dynamics of power, privilege, and oppression on individuals and society.
  5. Consult and collaborate with educators, mental health professionals and members of the sponsoring communities regarding culturally relevant trauma-informed treatment.
  6. Understand and demonstrate the importance of self-care as it relates to vicarious trauma and countertransference in clinical art/expressive therapies practice.
  7. Identify and mediate the post-colonial implications of introducing art materials in an international context.

Pedagogical Approach: This course Expressive Therapies with Trauma Affected Populations on the Island of Hispañola has three anchor points; a historical overview of Haiti and The Dominican Republic particularly the roots of trauma and racism, the intersectionality of poverty and mental health within a historical context and the role of the expressive arts therapies in addressing the needs identified by in-country partners. The structured outline and content delivery was designed to build upon the developmental trajectory of the student through their engagement of course resources and in-country experiences. Coincidentally, prior to the in-country experientials students are expected to analyze a range of historical perspectives and trauma-based readings with the specific intention of contextualizing the roots of interaction in both Haiti and The Dominican Republic. The breadth of the trauma literature was implemented to complement the historical and expressive arts therapies components of the course. The in-country partners remain an integral component in both the identification of community needs and the collaborative designing of the experiential aspect of the course. The teaching/learning in this course will occur through the experiential interactions with communities on the Island of Hispañola and didactic tools, including readings, lectures, discussions, videos, experiential exercises, case reviews, autobiographies, and assignments.