Armand Volkas

Armand Volkas, MFA, MA, MFT, RDT/BCT
Arianna Wheat, MA
Irene Van, MA and RDT Candidate

ArmandVolkas_preconfArianna Wheat_preconfIrene Van_preconf

Society as the Client: Healing Historical Trauma through the Arts

The presenters will demonstrate their approach to intercultural conflict transformation and healing historical trauma using techniques drawn from expressive arts therapy, drama therapy, psychodrama, sociodrama, and Playback Theatre. Through multi-model experiential exercises integrated with didactic explanations of the Healing the Wounds of History model, participants will be guided through an embodied exploration of the following questions: How do cultures emotionally integrate a legacy of perpetration or victimization? How do we prevent the rage, guilt, and shame of one generation from haunting a people for generations to come? The expressive arts can provide a bridge between personal and collective experience, help people master complex feelings, put ghosts of history to rest and transform their wounding into empowered social action. Healing the Wounds of History is a process in which psychotherapy, drama and expressive arts therapy techniques are used to work with a group of participants who share a common legacy of historical trauma. The process was developed by Armand Volkas, a psychotherapist and drama therapist from Berkeley, California. Volkas is the son of Auschwitz survivors and resistance fighters from World War II. He was moved by his personal struggle with this legacy of historical trauma to address the issues that arose from it: issues around identity, victimization, and perpetration, meaning and grief. Healing the Wounds of History helps participants work through the burden of such legacies by transforming their pain into constructive action through acts of creation and acts of service. Healing the Wounds of History helps participants work through the burden of such legacies by transforming their pain into constructive action through acts of creation, acts of service and social action.


ArmandVolkas_preconfArmand Volkas, MFA, MA, MFT, RDT/BCT
Clinical Director, Living Arts Counseling Center
Director, Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble
Founder, Healing the Wounds of History: Center for Peacebuilding and the Arts
Associate Professor, California Institute of Integral Studies
Armand Volkas, MFT, RDT/BCT, Adjunct Associate Professor, CIIS is Clinical Director of The Living Arts Counseling Center and is dedicated to the use of drama and the expressive arts as tools for social change and personal growth. Armand is also the creator of Healing the Wounds of History, a transformative process in which the expressive arts are used to work with groups carrying a legacy of conflict and historical trauma. He is also Artistic Director of The Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble, a troupe of improvisational actors and musicians who “play back” personal stories shared by audience members in ways that both honor and illuminate the original experience.

Arianna Wheat_preconfArianna Wheat MA, Associate Marriage and Family Therapist Drama Therapist, Counselor, Writer, Embodied Storyteller Creator of Fat Girls Wanted Therapeutic Performance and Support Group
Arianna Wheat specializes in Drama Therapy and using Drama Therapy with a Performative Frame integrating the healing capacity of performance with mindfulness-based psychotherapy practices. Through her practice at the Seeds of Awareness Holistic Counseling Center, Arianna focuses on healing trauma through connection,  personal empowerment and transforming maladaptive multigenerational coping mechanisms into access points for change. She has had the pleasure to work with adolescents, incarcerated people, veterans, women, LGBTQ communities, People of Color and Fat Bodied Women.

Irene Van_preconfIrene Van, MA and RDT Candidate
Drama Therapist, Former Core Member, VietUnity
Trainer, Hai Ba Trung School of Organizing
For many years, Irene served as a workshop facilitator, youth worker and community organizer in the Bay Area, where she has worked on a wide range of issues in the Vietnamese American community, including gentrification, anti-black racism, and executing trainings for emerging Vietnamese organizers. She is currently pursuing her passion for theatre as a tool for healing and social justice by attending the Drama Therapy program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Currently, she is interning at East Bay Community Recovery Project where she provides individual and group therapy to people struggling with addictions and co-occurring psychiatric disorders.