Live Training

Memory Boxes:

Creating Containers of Love and Loss

Earn Credit for 1 Technique Module toward

Certification in Grief Therapy as Meaning Reconstruction

or Certification in Art-Assisted Grief Therapy

Offered by the Portland Institute.

February 19, 2021

9am - 12pm, PST


February 23, 2021

8-11am, SGT

Presented by

Sarah Vollmann


Board-Certified Art Therapist

Buckingham Browne and Nichols School

USD$99 for 3-hour module

In this techniques module, learners will learn about the art therapy practice of creating memory boxes with bereaved clients.  As containers, boxes readily protect and hold memories, secrets, narratives, and emotions.  They provide a space for creating, storytelling, exploration and documentation.  Boxes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, and may be painted, decorated, collaged, and drawn upon.  The creator may choose to use the inside for more hidden and intimate content while the outside can encompass defenses and a more external focus.  Precious mementos may be safely stored inside.  This creative practice provides a range of therapeutic benefits, and it is rooted in art therapy based theories, as well as in current bereavement and grief theories, including Continuing Bonds and Meaning Reconstruction.  Case studies of a bereaved child, adolescent, and adult will highlight the use of this modality for bereaved clients of all ages and backgrounds.  Learners will break into pairs to discuss a case study and will address three points for consideration.

Learners will then have the opportunity to create tiny boxes in a brief art therapy experiential.  Different types of boxes will be discussed as possibilities for this directive, and learners will be welcome to tailor their box making for their own needs, fit, and comfort level.  Sharing of artwork will be optional.


  • Identify three art therapy principles, used in the art therapy practice of memory box creation, that provide unique therapeutic benefits for grieving clients;

  • Summarize the ways that the art therapy practice of memory box making, including both the process and the product, may promote meaning reconstruction for grieving clients;

  • Discuss the ways that memory boxes may be used to nurture and explore the formation and preservation of continuing bonds for grieving children, adolescents, and adults; and

  • Describe three elements in the practice of art therapy memory boxes that facilitate grief treatment with Neimeyer’s framework of bracing, pacing and facing.


This techniques module is intended for professionals who are seeking creative and imaginative skill development in their bereavement interventions with clients.  This module will be helpful for psychologists, social workers, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, pastoral counselors, nurses, art therapists and expressive arts therapists.


  • A PDF copy of the presentation slides;

  • List of Memory Box materials, and detailed instructions for the Memory Box Making procedures; and

  • Guidelines for orienting clients to Memory Box Making, and question prompts for processing the process and product after the creative experience.


Attendance in the live training session confers credit of 1 Technique Module leading to Certification in Grief Therapy as Meaning Reconstruction or Certification in Art-Assisted Grief Therapy.


  • 9am-12pm, PST: Portland, OR, which corresponds to 12-3pm in New York, 5-8pm in London, and 6-9pm in Amsterdam.

  • 8-11am SGT: Singapore, which corresponds to 9am-12pm in Tokyo, and 11am-2pm in Sydney and Melbourne.

The Zoom meeting link and the module materials will be emailed to all registrants in due course.


Presenting Faculty

Sarah Vollmann, MPS, ATR-BC, LICSW is a licensed clinical social worker and a board-certified art therapist. She earned her master's in art therapy from Pratt Institute and her master's in social work from Columbia University. Sarah currently works with adolescents at Buckingham Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge Massachusetts, and with bereaved patients in her private practice. Her 20 years of experience have spanned a variety of settings, including a pediatric medical hospital, a residential treatment facility, and a mental health clinic. Sarah worked with 9/11 families and she is certified in traumatic stress studies. Her publications on grief and loss include a recent chapter in Briana MacWilliam's Complicated Grief, Attachment and Art Therapy: Theory, Treatment and 14 Ready-To-Use Protocols, and an article  in  Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying, entitled "A Legacy of Loss: Stories of Replacement Dynamics and the Subsequent Child." She has presented nationally and internationally on art therapy, grief, and bereavement.

Sarah Vollmann,


USD$99 for 3-hour module

For other enquiries, simply email Carolyn.

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