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Center for the Living Arts

(510) 595-5500


Center for the living arts


The Center for The Living Arts is a specialized nonprofit promoting psychological and social wellness through the therapeutic use of drama and related expressive arts. We are founded on the belief that the arts are alive, and that living is an art; that the incorporation of drama and the expressive arts in therapy is an effective and empowering method for problem-solving, promoting growth and well-being within individuals, families, and groups; and that the arts can build bridges between cultures and different segments of society.

Drama Therapy Institute

The Living Arts Drama Therapy Institute offers innovative and transformative workshops, groups & trainings for personal and professional growth. They provide the opportunity to learn how to facilitate action-oriented processes with individuals, couples, families and groups.


Counseling Center

The Living Arts Counseling Center provides high quality individual, couples, families and group psychotherapy services. All of our practitioners use talk therapy, and if desired and useful, may incorporate the healing power of expressive arts and/or drama therapy.


Playback Theatre Ensemble

The Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble is an interactive, improvisational theatre company that enacts personal stories. For over 30 years, the ensemble has created performances and workshops that transform, empower, and validate the human experience.


Healing the Wounds of History

Healing the Wounds of History (HWH) is a therapeutic and creative process in which experiential techniques are used to work with people who share a common legacy of generational, historical and/or collective trauma. This approach was developed by psychotherapist, drama therapist and theatre director Armand Volkas in 1989. He has received international recognition for bringing groups in conflict together as well as cultures who carry collective trauma.


Autobiographical Therapeutic Performance

Autobiographical Therapeutic Performance is a powerful and effective form of brief individual and group therapy. It involves the creation of a performance as a therapeutic act. Using the S/Hero’s Journey and Rite of Passage structures, the process assists participants in changing their dysfunctional “life scripts” or narratives while being supported in achieving their therapeutic goals. Through acting, improvisation, psychodrama, sociodrama, expressive arts, Playback Theatre and Transactional Analysis, individuals will be guided in a deep journey of self-discovery. The process culminates with a performance in front of a group of trustworthy witnesses chosen by the individual.


What is Drama Therapy?

Drama therapy is the skilled and deliberate use of drama and theater processes to achieve therapeutic goals. Drama therapy is active and experiential; it provides participants with a safe yet stimulating context in which to explore personal and family stories, set goals, uncover and express feelings, resolve problematic patterns, and, as appropriate, achieve cathartic release. Because drama therapy is both active and reflective, it helps people to integrate emotional, cognitive, and physical levels of experience. Drama therapy is adaptable, and takes many forms, depending on individual and group needs. As appropriate, it may include improvisation, theater games, storytelling, facilitated enactments of real situations, and ritual. Drama therapy has proven effective with numerous populations in a variety of treatment settings. While playful and often fun, it sparks insight — promoting ease, growth and well-being.

Who can benefit from Drama Therapy?

Drama therapy is for everyone across the lifespan! A common misconception is that you have to be “good” at acting or the creative arts to engage in drama therapy. This simply isn’t true. Often when folks hear about drama therapy, they imagine standing on a stage and performing. While some drama therapy techniques do involve supporting clients to perform, there are so many other ways to engage in drama therapy. Because drama therapy is rooted in play and improvisation, many individuals find it to be an enjoyable way to explore heavy subjects. Drama therapy as a full-bodied approach can be used as a standalone form of therapy or blended with other forms of healing and psychotherapy.

What is Expressive Arts Therapy?

Expressive Arts Therapy is an approach to counseling and group work that utilizes visual art, movement, music, writing, drama, and other forms of creative expression as a way to deepen self-exploration and understanding. The creative process itself can be healing. Central to expressive arts therapy is the belief that the process of making art — in any media — is as important as the content it expresses. Awakening to the innate creativity within themselves, clients bring the wisdom of a deeper self into the light of day. They reignite the creative spirit, see their lives in new ways, and tap powerful new resources for confronting life’s challenges. Even when one is dealing with painful or frightening issues, the experience of expressing oneself through a creative process can provide fresh perspectives and a sense of hope and empowerment.