the Refuge

The art of Self discovery...Creativity, Healing and Spirituality

Sample Professional Presentations and Bereavement Workshops 

"There is no way to grieve, only your way.  Grief is hard work and there is no way around it only through it" 

Mitch Carmody, Letters to my Son: A Journey Through Grief.

Artful Grief:

Collage was first used in China around 200 BC.  It derives its name from the French verb coller, to glue.  It is a technique of composing works of art by pasting paper onto any surface. It is a healing technique I embraced in the aftermath of my daughter Kristin’s suicide in 2001.  It became the foundation for my book Artful Grief:  A diary of healing, (Strouse, 2013) and the mainstay of my professional work in the field of grief and bereavement.

This specific workshop/ presentation is for professionals.

Collage…integrating the torn pieces, is a visual diary and case study of traumatic grief.  It includes personal collage images as well as collages created by the bereaved I work with.  The art work on display will focus on several grief theories and models: Neimeyer’s: Meaning Reconstruction Model, Worden and Winokuer’s: Task Model of Bereavement and, Stroebe & Schut’s Duel Process Model of Coping.  Additionally, the Artful Grief workshop offers hands on opportunities for creating and processing your own collages.

This specific workshop/ presentation is for professionals.

Artful Grief:  Complicated Grief, Trauma Theory and Collage

Artful Grief:  Complicated Grief, Trauma Theory and Collage is a workshop focusing on images, created by an art therapist in response to the suicide of her seventeen year old daughter, as visual representations of complicated grief and complex trauma. It is an extensive experiential collage workshop for trauma focused therapists, who are often hesitant to treat grief; through didactic and mindful art experiential approaches. The neurobiological effects of complicated grief will be briefly reviewed with van der Kolk, Fisher and Perry’s trauma theories.  This case study is grounded in the grief and bereavement work of Neimeyer's Meaning Making Theories, Shear’s Complicated Grief Theories, Worden's Task Model of Bereavement and Stroebe's Dual Process Model. Trauma and grief work supports the effectiveness of nonverbal creative interventions to address the somatic impact on mind/body.


This specific workshop/presentation is for the bereaved community.

In Collage...The Art of Healing, Sharon will share her own journey of healing grief through the creative process of collage making.  She will present pieces of her own art work, take you into the depths of horror and hope that arose from her loss.  You will see images that reflect fragmentation, chaos, reorganization, integration, forgiveness and healing.  Participants will have the opportunity to experience the transformational use of images in healing through the making of their own collages.  Come prepared to select pictures and words from magazines.  Cut, paste, arrange and embellish your own creation and discover the powerful images of your own personal journey that opens you to healing.  No talent required, only the willingness to be in your heart, for "a picture is worth a thousand words."

Sample of Sharon's Collage Images:


Learning Objectives: for CEU's

1.    Participants will be able to describe three ways the creative process of collage can help the bereaved “revision narratives” of loss and create meaning.

2.      Participants will be able to identify four features of Complicated Grief as a form of Complex Trauma.

3.      Participants will be able to articulate three tents of Grief and Bereavement Theory as applied to the Expressive Arts.

Additional Learning Objectives:

1.  Participants will understand how torn and cut pieces of paper, words and images used in the construction of collages can reflect the experiences of traumatic loss, and provide an opportunity to share that which is unspeakable.  This increases communication skills and provides an opportunity to be seen and heard.

2.  Participants will understand the creative process of collage making as a safe, sacred and silent act in which conscious and unconscious feelings are explored and ultimately healed.  This increase insight and mastery.

3.  Participants will distinguish the difference between traditional verbal therapies and a creative art therapy approach to healing grief, in which the art product serves as a permanent visual record of the healing process.  This provides perspective and increases identity and self esteem.

Workshop Presentation: 90 minutes/ 3 hours/ All day Master Class  (can be adjusted to your need)

  1. Presentation of Sharon's personal Collage work - 15 minutes
  2. Opportunity for questions -                                   5 minutes
  3. Participants make their own collages -                 35 minutes
  4. Sharing of collages and questions -                      25 minutes
  5. Clean up and complete evaluation forms -            10 minutes

 Materials Needed:

I will need tables and chairs.

I will need two or three magazines for each participant.

I will provide paper, glue sticks and scissors.

"The beauty of life is, while we cannot undo what is already done, we can see it, understand it, learn from it and change so that every moment is spent not in regret, guilt, fear or anger, but in wisdom, understanding and love."  Jennifer Edwards

Wisdom Bowls...the inner journey of healing / Meditation Workshop

Sharon will share a powerful tool for mending what has been shattered through loss in Wisdom Bowls...the inner journey of healing.  She offers you a transformational experience through guided imagery, the creation of a form that reflects your old story and new story, and the healing opportunity of sharing and being witnessed in the profound expression of Self.  Come prepaired to experience the silent place in your heart, access a personal image reflecting your inner wisdom, create, share and heal.  Only your willingness required !

Educational Objectives:

1.  Understand the use of guided imagery in the process of healing.

2.  Understand how a meditative practice support the "continuing bonds" with the deceased, an important part of the healing process as noted in  Worden's Task Model of Bereavement.

3.  Understand how a permanent and tangible record of an old and new story, helps the bereaved in their sense making process as noted in Neimeyer's grief and bereavement of meaning reconstruction.

Workshop Presentation: 90 Minutes  (can be adjusted according to need)

  1. Guided imagery and inner journey experience             40 minutes
  2. Create your personal Wisdom Bowl                            10 minutes
  3. Share you Wisdom Bowls and old and new story          30 minutes
  4. Clean up and complete evaluation forms                     10 minutes

Materials Needed:

I will need chairs set up in a circle.

I will need a table set up for art supplies.

I will need a CD player.

I will provide paper, colored pencils and markers.

Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved / Sharon Strouse