Course Syllabus: Creative Aging

California Institute of Integral Studies

Creative Aging: EXA AND Elders

Dates TBA


Kate T. Donohue, Ph.D., REAT
Office hours by appointment on Fridays
Private Practice Phone: 415-695-1464
Fax: 415-296-7425
CIIS phone: ext. 412 (only available on Fridays)


This class will delve into the aging issues arising from the second half of life. An image that best fits this developmental phase is “After the Sweet Bird of Youth”. This image of aging will allow participants to explore the normative and critical issues arising in aging: physically, emotionally, existentially and spiritually through a Jungian, Erickson and Cohen as well as through expressive arts therapy lens. Originally, Jung’s analytical psychology focused exclusively on this stage of life. Jung saw this a time to develop our inferior functions and to confront loss and death. Expressive Arts Therapy, a multi-modal approach integrating all of the arts in a therapeutic framework can provide an array of sensory and imagistic languages to explore aging issues.

Expressive Arts imagery …

  • can connect to our past resources, open us to aspects of the self not yet explored (inferior functions)
  • allow us to express our grief over personal losses and failures in a fuller deeper way when perhaps words fail us
  • tap into languages of expression when our neurological, cognitive and verbal have deteriorated
  • open us to imagery and ideas that can aid us in grappling with our death

Through didactic theoretical presentation, case studies, and experiential processes, participants will learn to clinically use Jungian oriented Expressive Arts Therapy to address issues of aging in their clients as well as themselves and their families.

Purpose and Benefits of the Course:

This course is designed for emerging and practicing therapists who have an introductory and intermediate understanding of Jungian psychology, expressive arts therapy and the issues of aging. For those who are advanced in any of the above areas, this course will present a different approach and application of these ideas to the issues of aging. Participants will deepen their understanding of these clinical areas and learn to apply these processes in their practices.

New Student Skills, Expected Outcomes and Applications to Professional Work:

Participants will learn these new skills, outcomes and applications to their work:

  • Learn Expressive Arts Therapy processes
  • Learn new theories on Aging from Jung, Erickson and Cohen
  • Learn how to assess physical, neurological and psychological issues in an aging person’s life
  • Learn how to create expressive arts processes to address these issues
  • Learn about issues in confronting death through the expressive arts
  • Learn about self-care with issues of aging through the expressive arts

Required Course Readings:

Cohen, G.D. (2000). The Creative Age. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Cohen, G.D. (2007). The Mature Mind. New York: Basic Books.

Donohue: Selected handouts and readings

Erikson, Jung and EXA articles and chapters
“Aging and the Arts” Generations: Journal of the American Society on Aging, 30(1), Spring 2006, pp 5-70.


Recommended Course Readings:

Gardner, H. (1994). The Arts and Human Development. New York: Basic Books.

Jung, C. G., (1999). Encountering Jung: Jung on Death and Immortality. (Selected by Yates, J.) Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Kast, V. (1993) Through Emotions to Maturity: Psychological Readings of Fairy Tales. New York: International Publishing Corporation.

Weisberg, N.  & Wilder, R. (Eds.) (1988). Expressive Arts with Elders. Philadelphia, PA.: Jessica Kingley.

Weiss, J. C. (1984). Expressive Therapy with Elders and the Disabled: Touching the Heart of Life. New York: The Haworth Press.


Course Outline and Objectives:

There will be two Saturday classes: September 25th and October 9th with an hour lunch break. So bring snacks for the long morning and afternoon and dress for movement, art and drama.

Session 1: 9 AM-1 PM

  • Introduction to EXA and assumptions about aging
  • Forming a relationship with elders through the arts
  • Overview of development phase of aging from Jung, Erickson, and Cohen.
  • Expanded definition of aging stages and considerations for EXA
  • Physical, neurological, emotional issues of aging
  • Applications of arts with aging stages and  issues

Session 2:  2:00 AM-6 PM

  • Well aging and the arts: demonstration and experiential process
  • Neurological issues and the arts: demonstration and experiential process
  • Discussion bringing forward direct learning of concepts presented
  • Discussions of  assignments and Closing


Cohen, The Creative Age: chapters 1-5
Cohen, The Mature Mind” chapters 1-5
Donohue Reader: Generations Journal pp.5-70

Session 3: 9:00 AM-1:00 PM

  • Exploring the chief issue of aging: loss
  • Loss of physical, cognitive and neurological abilities
  • Loss of home and/or job
  • Loss of close friendships, family members, partner and spouse
  • Confronting death
  • Cross-cultural perspectives
  • EXA processes to address loss and death: demonstration and processes

Session 4: 2 PM-6 PM

  • Continuing the exploration of death and loss
  • Preparing for death
  • Creative Autobiography
  • Applications of these practices for participants and loved ones
  • Applications of these processes to clinical practice
  • Resources and References for further training and information
  • Discussion of Final Assignment
  • Closing Ritual
  • Evaluations

READING ASSIGNMENT: Complete both Cohen books and reader

Arts Assignment:

After each class (9/25 and 10/9/10), create an artistic response in any modality or combination of modalities. You can create more than one if you are inspired. You may use these in your autobiography. If you do not include them in your autobiography, please submit them in a separate section with your final assignment, (submit photos of images, audio or video presentations and/or description of your process).

This is called an expressive artistic response.  Please keep the power of play alive.  For example, you paint, draw, work with clay, collage, dance, make music, sing, create poetry or write creatively, enact an image, dream or character, role-play or some combination of the arts modality.  You may also want to create an artistic response to the class material, readings or your own life issues.

Arts and Written Assignments:

Using Gene Cohen’s autobiography suggestions (The Creative Age: pp.269-282), write your own autobiography. Please use the arts to illuminate different reflections.

Five-Ten pages with APA style for references in text and reference page. Pease include your artistic responses as an addendum or in the text (submit photos of images, audio or video presentations and/or description of your process).

Please mail  to my office. My address is:
57 Post St. Ste. 602
SF, CA 94104
Or you can drop your paper at my office in the waiting room (602).
Please use the contact page of my website for directions:

Interview an Elder:
Please interview an elder.  This person could be a senior family member, friend or someone in a local senior center. Kate can help you arrange this.

Using the outline suggested by Cohen (The Creative Age, pp. 285-291) and also the outline used in the Autobiography assignment (a.), interview an elder. Create an artistic response (s) with them or about them and include in the paper (submit photos of images, audio or video presentations and/or description of your process).

As you write your interview, compare and contrast this person with your autobiography and the readings from the class. Use APA style for references in text and reference page. Reflect on your life as you compare and contrast their aging process. As you reflect, note ways you may want to live your life differently now and/or change the way you approach your own aging. Also include ways you imagine  working expressively with this person if they were your client. Use the readings to help you with EXA ideas.

Eight-ten pages, APA style, please include your images in any artistic format (submit photos of images, audio or video presentations and/or description of your process).

Please mail  to my office.. My address is:
57 Post St. Ste. 602
SF, CA 94104

Or you can drop your paper at my office in the waiting room (602).
Please use the contact page of my website for directions:

Additional References:

Chodorow, Joan. (1991).  Dance therapy and depth psychology: The moving
imagination.  New York: Routledge.

_________. (Ed.). (1997). Jung on active imagination. Princeton, N.J.:
Princeton   University Press.

Johnson, D. H. & I. J. Grand (Eds.), The Body in Psychotherapy.  North
Atlantic Books  and The California Institute of Integral Studies.

Knill, P.J., Barba, H.N. and Fuchs, M. N. (1995) Minstrels of Soul: Intermodal Expressive Arts Therapy. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Palmerston Press.

Levine, E. & S. (eds.), (1999) Foundations of Expressive Arts Therapy. Philadelphia, PA. Jessica Kingsley.

Lewis, P.  (1993). Creative Transformation: The Healing Power of the Arts. Wilmette, Illinois: Chiron Press.

Lusebrink, V.B. (1990) Imagery and Visual Expression in Therapy. New York: Plenum Press.

McNiff, S. (1992). Art As Medicine.  Boston: Shambhala Press.

McNiff, S, (1987).  The Arts and Psychotherapy.  Springfield, Illinois: Charles, C. Thomas.

Pallaro, Patrizia. (Ed.), (1999). Authentic movement: Essays by Mary
Starks Whitehouse, Janet Adler, and Joan Chodorow.  London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Robbins. A. (1994). A Multi-Modal Approach to Creative Art Therapy. Bristol, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Robbins, A. (ed.) (1998). Therapeutic Presence: Bridging Expression and Form.  Philadelphia, PA. Jessica Kingsley Press.

Schwartz-Salant, Nathan & Murray Stein (Eds.),(1999). The body in analysis. Wilmette, Illinois: Chiron Publications.

Schwartz-Salant, N. and Stein, S. (1995). Transference and Countertransference. Wilmette Press: Chiron Press.

Stein, M. (1995). Jungian Analysis.  London: Open Court (second edition).

Stein, M (ed.), The Interactive Field in Analysis. Wilmette, Illinois: Chiron Press.

Stein, M. (1998). Transformations: Emergence of the Self. College Station,  Texas: Texas A& M University Press.