Issue #17 (August 2015)

ISSN 2201-9529



Art can be a powerful ally in psychotherapy, engaging the entire nervous system—the broader somatic self. Emerging out of our increasingly sophisticated understanding of developmental neurobiology and relational neuroscience are new models of therapy with a multidisciplinary lineage and potentially broad application.

This month we focus on two such models that are grounded in an understanding of how nervous systems are compromised and what effective and practical steps can be taken to increase regulation and resiliency. Noah Hass-Cohen, a professor of psychology and widely published art therapist, and Joanna Clyde Findlay, also a professor and expert in expressive art therapies, talk about their model, the art therapy relational neuroscience (ATR-N) approach. This model is comprised of six principles: creative embodiment, relational resonating, expressive communicating, adaptive responding, transformative integrating, and empathizing and compassion (summed up in the neat acronym CREATE). We have a look at the Creative Embodiment part of this model in an excerpt from Hass-Cohen and Findlay’s just-published book Art Therapy & the Neuroscience of Relationships, Creativity & Resiliency.

We also feature another art therapist, Linda Chapman, an expert in the therapeutic use of art and play with traumatised children. Chapman is author of the book Neurobiologically Informed Trauma Therapy with Children and Adolescents: Understanding Mechanisms of Change.  In her article “Neurodevelopmental Art Therapy: Revisiting Development and Attachment”, Chapman looks at the use of art and play for children suffering complex trauma. She draws on current neuroscience to inform her attachment-based process, which aims to integrate and regulate a child’s nervous system where there has been insecure attachment as a result of abuse and neglect. Creating attachment experiences in therapy may be effective in recapturing the lost opportunities of early childhood to facilitate a more normal developmental trajectory for the traumatised child.

I do hope you will find inspiration in this issue to explore further how art and play can enhance your own therapeutic process!


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Hass-Cohen and Findlay integrate art therapy practice and creativity with interpersonal neurobiology and research in relational neuroscience. Their purpose is to highlight and demonstrate how an Art Therapy Relational Neuroscience approach can support resiliency.
Noah Hass-Cohen & Joanna Clyde Findlay

Linda Chapman describes the beginning phase of a model of therapy for complex trauma treatment that takes into consideration attachment and sensory delays in the neurobiologically based developmental trajectory.
Linda Chapman


  • From the Editor: Matthew Dahlitz
  • Research: Early Life Stress and Oxytocin - Yan Fan, Simone Grimm, Malek Bajbouj
  • Prefrontal Muse: Living With Stress - Karen Young

43 pages

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