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Transformed by Loss: Art Therapy Self-Portraits & the Redefined Self

Transformed by Loss: Art Therapy Self-Portraits & the Redefined Self

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USD$99 for 3-hour module

Presented by

Sarah Vollmann,


Board-Certified Art Therapist


Portland Institute for Loss and Transition

This module, rooted in art therapy theory and Neimeyer’s Meaning Reconstruction theory, introduces the use of self-portraiture with grieving clients.  After a significant loss, the grievers often experience an altered sense of self and the world, and need to reconstruct a cohesive life narrative that is inclusive of their pre-loss and post-loss identities.  The creation of a self portrait can be transformational for grieving clients, allowing them to explore their shifted sense of self and engage in the meaning making process.  Art therapy case studies of a child, adolescent, and adult will be presented.  Visually rich and deeply personal creations will highlight the expansive and varied potential therapeutic benefits of self-portraiture in the grieving process, which can include validation of non-death losses that are secondary to bereavement.  This module will additionally explore examples in art history of artists who utilized self-portraiture to process losses, and review the usage of self-portraits across clinical disciplines to assess a client’s self-image and further treatment.  An experiential component, with no artistic skill required, will allow learners to engage as they choose to creatively explore aspects of the self.


  • Summarize the potential repercussions of a significant loss upon the identity of the grieving client;

  • Identify three unique functions of self-portraiture that foster therapeutic growth and processing;

  • Discuss the ways that self-portraits may be used to create a cohesive self narrative as a central process of meaning reconstruction; and

  • Conceptualize self-portraiture for the grievers to foster the tenets of meaning reconstruction, including bracing, pacing, and facing, sense making, and benefit finding.

Note:  Completion of this program and return of the Responsive Journal satisfies 1 Case Study required for Certification in Grief Therapy as Meaning ReconstructionCertification in Art-Assisted Grief Therapy or Certification in Grief Therapy for Non-Death Losses.


This program contains the following video segments:

  1. Grief and the Shifted Self:  A Case Illustration (44 mins)
  2. On Kollwitz and Kahlo:  Historical Self-Portraits of Loss (46 mins)

  3. Case Conceptualization:  Processing the Portrait (50 mins)

  4. Our Methods, Ourselves:  Creating and Sharing Self-Portraits (35 mins)




Presenting Faculty

Sarah Vollmann, MPS, ATR-BC, LICSW is a registered Board-Certified Art Therapist and a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker.  She is a faculty member of the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition and she maintains a private practice with a specialization in grief and traumatic loss.  As a member of the Artful Grief team of art therapists, Sarah works with military families facing suicide bereavement and traumatic loss.  She is also the Lead Counselor at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Massachusetts.  Her international art therapy work has included projects in Kenya and in Rwanda.  Sarah has published articles and book chapters on grief and loss, and she enjoys teaching graduate courses on art and play therapy.  She presents both nationally and internationally on art therapy, grief, and bereavement.

Sarah Vollmann,


Photo - Sarah Vollmann.jpg

USD$99 for 3-hour module

For other enquiries, simply email Carolyn.

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