Please note the Preconference sessions take place on Thursday, March 26, 2020. Preconference registration is separate from Conference registration and requires an additional fee. **Seating is limited.** Please take note of early-bird rates and deadline on our Registration page.

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The International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and Ottawa University proudly welcome 2020 Preconference speaker, Dr. Mitchell Kossak.


Mitchell Kossak, Ph.D., LMHC, REAT, has been a licensed mental health counselor, since 1994, and a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist (REAT) since 2005. His clinical work combines expressive arts therapies with body-centered approaches with a variety of populations addressing concerns related to chronic pain, recovery from trauma, depression, anxiety, life transitions and relationship issues. Dr. Kossak has trained in a variety of mind body modalities including Polarity Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, Deep Tissue Massage and Bioenergetics. In Expressive Arts Therapies he has training in, music therapy, experimental theater, psychodrama, and authentic movement. He studied Sound Healing with pioneers in the field of sacred sound and transformation of consciousness, such as Dr. John Beaulieu author of Music and Sound in the Healing Arts and Silvia Nakkach director of the Vox Mundi Project. In addition to these trainings, he has studied and practiced contemplative based healing forms such as Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Vispassana meditation, and Iyengar yoga for over 30 years. He earned his doctorate from the Union Institute and University in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in Expressive Arts Therapy and Transpersonal Psychology. He has written about and presented his research on rhythmic attunement, improvisation, psychospiritual and community based approaches to working with trauma and embodied states of consciousness at conferences nationally and internationally. He is the Associate Editor of The Journal of Applied Arts and Health and Co-Chair of the Institute for Arts and Health at Lesley University where he has been a professor since 1999. He is the author of Attunement in Expressive Arts Therapy: Toward an Understanding of Embodied Empathy.

Bio courtesy of Watertown Center for Healing Arts

Imagine Harmony: Rhythm, Embodiment, Imagery, and Healing

Recent research indicates that engagement in rhythmic activity, that all arts inherently possess, specifically helps to address and re-regulate the underlying patterns embedded in the nervous system (Perry 2013). According to Perry and other current trauma researchers (Levine 2015; Porges 2017; van der Kolk 1994, 2014), the only way to move from anxiety states that overwhelm the nervous system is through rhythmic embodied activity like dancing, singing, art making, drumming and repetitive meditative breathing. Other studies have shown that rhythmic activities can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and immune response. When inner rhythms and imagery are fixed in habitual patterns the results are stuck ways of thinking and being. When internal rhythms and imagery shift toward balance and well-being, there is a possibility to bring about meaningful change in one’s life. As we attune to individual and collective rhythms, we can begin to understand how to find new creative ways to change habitual patterns of behavior.

The arts can also help to facilitate change because when an individual or group engages in artistic experiences they enter into a state of present-moment awareness, very similar to what happens in mindfulness practice, where there is an intense focus and awareness in the moment and where a sense of relaxed flow can occur. This flow state is directly influenced by inner rhythms and imagery that affect the nervous system. In this flow state, the nervous system shifts from a sympathetic response or a resonant state of hyper alertness, stress or alarm (fight/flight), to a parasympathetic response or one of embodied calm and safety.

In this workshop we will utilize breath, sound, rhythmic drumming, movement and image making to explore how to shift and bring balance to personal rhythms and connect to transpersonal rhythms in order to facilitate a sense of psychospiritual harmony.

Drone Track
Thursday, March 26, 2020
9AM – 6PM
6 CEs
Room 107
Presentation #40

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