Course Description:

The course is designed to explore the challenges of creating relevant and responsive therapeutic collaborations that address the realities of “special needs” communities. Students will engage in an experiential exploration of the dynamics of poverty and its implications mental health, within the larger context of Nicaraguan history as they relate to historical and intergenerational trauma. An ethical lens to expressive arts therapies orientations and their application within international communities will be explored.


Course Objectives:  

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


  1. Integrate/differentiate through assignments concepts of historical and intergenerational trauma in post-revolutionary Nicaragua and the role of the expressive arts therapies in hat context.
  2. Examine and mediate the challenges of providing culturally sensitive therapeutic interventions with “special needs” populations through a focused self-directed introspective analysis of implicit biases and stereotypes that negatively influence therapeutic engagements.
  3. Explore the dynamics of power, privilege, and oppression on individuals and society, particularly “special needs” communities.
  4. Consult and collaborate with educators, mental health professionals, and peers regarding culturally relevant trauma-informed treatment.
  5. Understand and demonstrate the importance of self-care as it relates to vicarious trauma and countertransference in clinical art/expressive therapies practice.
  6. Identify and mediate the ethical considerations of incorporating expressive arts therapies theory within post-revolutionary Nicaragua.


Pedagogical Approach: The team teaching and learning objectives in this course will be achieved through experiential interactions with communities in Nicaragua, didactic tools, including readings, lectures, discussions, videos, experiential exercises, case reviews, autobiographies, and assignments. The communities in Nicaragua that we will be collaborating with include but are not limited to, Niño Feliz, a school located in Chichigalpa that works with students with a range of developmental and physical disabilities as well as Aldeas SOS, a residential facility and community school that services children who have been victims of domestic violence and/or who are homeless.