The Inaugural Ponzio Creative Arts Therapies Conference: The Creative Arts in Pediatric Care - Treatment, Collaboration, and Innovation

Aurora, CO US
May 17, 2024

Please join us on Friday, May 17, 2024 at Children's Hospital Colorado.

The Ponzio Creative Arts Therapies Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado is the largest of its kind. Our team consists of 15 art, dance, drama, music, and yoga therapists who provide comprehensive care across both mental health and medical services throughout the hospital. This inaugural conference strives to provide opportunities for health professionals to learn about creative arts treatment, understand our collaboration efforts within patient care teams, and discover the innovative ways in which our team supports patients and families. 

Target Audience

Creative arts therapists, child life specialist, health care providers.

Learning Objectives


Provide education to interdisciplinary treatment team members on the literature, scope of practice, and application of creative arts therapy interventions to enhance health and wellness across mental health and medical units. 

Identify resources and educational opportunities to creative arts therapists who support our patient populations in the community. 

Review research being conducted by our PCAT team to contribute to the larger body of CAT literature.


Additional Information

PDF icon 2024 PCAT Conference Schedule.pdf276.51 KB
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 6.25 Attendance
Course opens: 
Course expires: 
Event starts: 
05/17/2024 - 8:00am MDT
Event ends: 
05/17/2024 - 4:45pm MDT

This conference will be hosted In-Person at Children's Hospital Colorado, Aurora with the option to attend virtually.

PCAT Conference Day-of Schedule Outline

Friday, May 17, 2024

8:00 – 8:45

Registration, coffee/snacks, access to sensory room for meditation

Main Conference Center Lobby

8:45 – 9:15

Welcome and Introduction

Jena Hausmann, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Katherine Reed, LPC, ATR, PCAT Manager



9:15 – 10:30


Collaboration in the Medical Setting: Holistic Care through Creative Arts Therapies

Josie Abbenante, ATR-BC, LPAT



10:30 – 11:00

BREAK (30 Minutes)

Access to chill space

11:00 – 12:00

Culture Changers: Integration of Creative Arts Therapy into Staff Diversity, Health Equity, Inclusion, and Resilience Development

Katherine Reed, LPC, ATR-BC & Robert Franklin II, MPA

Uncovering Outcomes of Integrating Complementary and Alternative Modalities in Pediatric Psychiatric Care: A Summary of 10 Years of evaluations and research

Heather Kennedy, PhD, MPH

12:00 – 1:00

LUNCH (1 Hour)



1:00 – 2:00

What is Our Professional Journey? An Experiential

Ramon Guitart, MA, LPCC, PRDT

In-Person Only

Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy Practices in Pediatric Mental Health

Michele Turek, ATR-BC, LPC

Multi-disciplinary Collaboration within Medical Music Therapy Practice

Shelley Goldberg, MM, MT-BC; Alix Brickley, MM, MT-BC (NICU-MT); Kim Woodman, MT-BC; Drew Mancini, MS, CCC-SLP; Kristi Burton, MSPT; Sara Reynolds, M. Div, BCC


2:00 – 2:15

BREAK (15 Minutes)

Access to chill space

2:15 – 3:15

Regulating the Nervous System with Yoga Therapy

Carmen Martinez, MA, MS, ERYT-500, YACEP, C-IAYT


Using Art-Based Interventions: Bone Health Learning & Dietary Adherence in Hemodialyzing Adolescents with End Stage Renal Disease 

Tisha L. Adams, EdD, MA, LPC, ATR-BC



Music Therapy and Drama Therapy in Eating Disorders Multi-Family Groups

Tony Edelblute, LPC, MT-BC & Ramon Guitart, MA, LPCC, PRDT

The Role of Dance/Movement Therapy Within the Context of Pediatric Mental and Medical Health

KerryLyn Kercher, MA, R-DMT, LPCC


3:15 – 3:30

BREAK (15 minutes)

Access to chill space

3:30 – 4:15

Panel Discussion

Location TBD

4:15 – 4:45

Closing Ritual and Evaluations

Children's Hospital Colorado
13123 E 17th Avenue
Aurora, CO 80045
United States

Conference guests may park in the Lower Level Visitors Parking Lot. No fee to park. Check-in at front desk required.

Keynote Speaker

Josie Abbenante, ATR-BC, LPAT 

Collaboration in the Medical Setting: Holistic Care through the Creative Arts

Creative Arts Therapists bring a distinct advantage to the healing process of patients in both medical and psychiatric facilities. It is unprecedented that, for over 20 years, Children’s Hospital Colorado has been, and continues to be, at the forefront of program development integrating arts therapies into treatment. Internationally, over the last 30 years, Creative Arts Therapies have been shown to be beneficial in addressing medical, creative, psychological, emotional, and spiritual aspects of well-being. There is currently a call for additional evidence-based research from the World Health Organization and support therein for arts therapists in healthcare and public health programs. That it is in the sights of the WHO and is being recognized and researched internationally speaks clearly to the medical and psychosocial value of the arts therapies in healthcare. CHCO staff and administration, as well as families and patients, have welcomed collaboration with the arts therapies team. In my years as an art and sandplay therapist, I have found the arts to be a necessary therapeutic container. Whether providing a means of emotional expression and a sense of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation, or support for patients during medical procedures, or ways to hear metaphor available in the arts process, the creative arts therapies are a significant component in the therapeutic process.

Following this keynote, participants will be able to: 

· Explain collaboration between the medical team and the creative arts therapist. 

· Define 2 creative arts methods to assist patients with coping skills during medical and/or psychological treatment 

· Describe 2 benefits, to patients, family, or treatment team, of the creative arts in the medical or psychiatric hospital. 

- Story and examples of client work will allow for an understanding of the potential for collaboration in the clinical setting. 


Josie Abbenante, ATR-BC, LPAT, has taught and practiced art therapy for over 40 years. She added the practice of sandplay to her work 25 years ago. Recently retired from full time work as the art and sandplay therapist at the New Mexico School for the Deaf, Josie has worked in medical, psychiatric, and private practice settings with clients of all ages. She directed art therapy programs at the University of New Mexico and Seton Hill College and was assistant professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Vermont College, and Pratt Institute. Josie has presented nationally and internationally on a variety of topics


Local Speakers

Tisha L Adams, EdD, MA, LPC, ATR-BC

Using Art-Based Interventions to Enhance Bone Health Learning And Dietary Adherence In Adolescents With End Stage Renal Disease

I will be discussing a pilot study that was created in collaboration with a Renal Dietician.  A small, randomized control group, pretest and posttest study was designed to statistically analyze if an effect existed between the inclusion of art-based interventions in formal bone health education and improved adherence to dietary restrictions with adolescent ESRD patients. End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) is a complex, irreversible, and life-threatening disease that can have severe implications on a patient’s physical, nutritional, social, cognitive, academic, and psychological well-being. Due to the disease process of ESRD, patients experience demanding treatment schedules and strict dietary and fluid restrictions. In adolescents with ESRD, poor disease knowledge and non-adherence to dietary restrictions can lead to increased levels of morbidity and premature mortality.


Dr Adams has been an art therapist for 30+ years and holds a doctorate degree in Counseling, Education, and Supervision. She is an Associate Clinical Manager for Ponzio Creative Arts Therapy Program (PCAT). She has been at Children’s Hospital for 17 years and has practiced primarily in pediatric hospital settings with children and adolescents struggling or diagnosed with various acute and chronic medical and/or mental health issues. She splits her time between clinical and leadership responsibilities: art therapy services within the PCAT outpatient clinic, coordination of the PCAT internship program, overseeing the PCAT providers in medical units/programs, co- director of an unlicensed psychotherapist training program, and supervisor of unlicensed behavioral health clinicians. Tisha is an artist who specializes in ceramics.

Jasmine Chu, MA

Community Collaboration in Non-Clinical Arts Programming. Experiential component: art tour of Children's Colorado.

What is the role of an Art Coordinator at a Children’s Hospital? Why does the Art Coordinator position exist within the Ponzio Creative Arts Therapy Department? How does collaboration with community artists and internal teams foster a healing environment? How can we expand this work? I will present several case studies of projects, workshops, and exhibitions and offer an opportunity to take a guided walking tour of the hospital’s art collection.


Jasmine Chu is a practitioner of public humanities committed to promoting the healing power of creative experiences. Currently, as the Arts Coordinator at Children’s Hospital Colorado she oversees all non-clinical arts-engagement across the network of care, including collections management, exhibition development, and visiting artist programming. She is an advocate for art that activates spaces for imagination, resilience, inclusion, and community collaboration. Based in Denver, Colorado, Jasmine earned a BA from University of California San Diego (‘14) and an MA at Brown University (‘19). Additionally, she is a graduate of the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts’ Leadership Arts program (‘22), the Captains of Inclusion DHEI training program at Children’s Hospital Colorado (’22) and serves as a dedicated volunteer for Colorado Asian Pacific United. She has a diverse nonprofit background in education, curation, development, research, and public programs.

Anthony (Tony) Edelblute, LPC, MT-BC and Ramón Guitart, MA, LPCC,P-RDT  

Multifamily Groups in the Eating Disorders Program

Multi-family groups (MFG) provide a unique context for therapy. Use of creative arts therapy modalities offers opportunities for families to interact within themselves, and/or with other families. Interventions with MFG’s need to be structured enough to allow for reflection within individual and shared family dynamics, while also open enough that families can participate at their own level, and recognize commonalities with other families. The Eating Disorders program at CHCO utilizes a Family-Based Therapy theoretical foundation, which sees eating disorder recovery as a family issue, not only an issue of the patient’s. We will discuss the evolution of the MFG at CHCO, theoretical orientations in creating CAT interventions, and examples of these interventions.


Tony Edelblute has worked as a Music Therapist and psychotherapist at Children’s Hospital Colorado since 2003, and previously for HospiceCare of Boulder County. As a member of the Ponzio Creative Arts Therapies Program, he has worked with children with psychiatric and medical diagnoses in units throughout the hospital. From 2013-19, he also co-led the Children's CO mental health Youth Action Board, guiding Denver-area teens through the creation of advocacy projects related to de-stigmatizing mental health issues. He led DBT groups for a decade, and is a member of the CORAL research team, working to reduce burnout in health-care workers.

Shelley Goldberg, MM, MT-BC; Kim Woodman, MT-BC; Alix Brickley MM, MT-BC (NICU-MT); Andrew Mancini, MS, CCC-SLP; Sara Reynolds, M. Div, BCC; Kristi Burton, MSPT

Multi-disciplinary Collaboration within Medical Music Therapy Practice

Pediatric medical music therapy practice takes place in a multi-disciplinary setting that provides frequent opportunities for collaboration with a variety of complementing modalities. This presentation will explore three perspectives on collaboration across disciplines including music therapy, physical therapy, speech/language pathology, and spiritual care.  NICU development, pediatric rehabilitation, and family-centered psychosocial support case studies and supporting literature will be discussed.


Alix Brickley received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Denver and her Master’s in Music Therapy from Sam Houston State University.  As Children's NICU music therapist, she specializes in infant sensory integration and development and is passionate about utilizing a multidisciplinary approach to improve patient outcomes.  Alix has multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals and has presented on her work at numerous conferences across the United States. She and Kristi Burton collaborate within the Children's NICU.

Shelley Goldberg completed her undergraduate degree in Music Therapy at Appalachian State University in 2016 and received her Master’s of Music in Music Therapy from Colorado State University in 2021. Shelley currently provides medical music therapy services in the PICU and Inpatient Rehabilitation units, with a focus on Neurologic Music Therapy. Shelley and Drew Mancini frequently collaborate and provide co-treatment sessions for patients with acute rehabilitation needs throughout the hospital.

Kimberly (Kim) Woodman studied music therapy at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. She is a medical music therapist here at Children's, providing care to the Heart Institute’s inpatient units (CICU, CPCU), the pulmonology inpatient unit, and for the KidStreet program. She and Sarah Reynolds collaborate in the Children's CO Heart Institute.

Ramón Guitart MA, LPCC, PRDT 

Exploring resiliency and connection: What is our professional journey?

Throughout an experiential workshop, participants will be able to explore the power of Drama therapy and their use in groups and in the hospital setting. We will use different theatrical exercises to explore our professional journey and to connect with one another. This workshop will be only in person.   


Ramón Guitart holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. He joined the Ponzio Creative Arts therapist program almost 2 years ago and is currently working in the Pediatric Mental Health Institute with children from 5 to 17.  He also works in the Psychiatic Emergency Department in every unit and in the outpatient clinic. Ramón is an actor, director and radio host. Ramon recently presented at the first International Drama therapy Conference and is currently involved in several projects inside of the Drama therapy community.

Heather Kennedy, PhD, MPH

Uncovering outcomes of integrating complementary and alternative modalities in pediatric psychiatric care: A summary of 10 years of evaluation and research

Starting in 2010, the PCAT program hired an evaluator to understand and communicate the impact of complementary and alternative medicine modalities of art, music, dance/movement, and yoga therapy into all levels of pediatric psychiatric care. Taking a public health/social work approach, the evaluator asked therapists their intended outcomes, and designed multiple evaluation tools to explore outcomes of art, music dance/movement, and yoga therapy from young people, families, artist mentors, and other clinicians. This body of work resulted in 7 peer-reviewed publications. During this session, participants will learn about the approach, tools, and outcomes of 10 years of research and evaluation work.


Heather Kennedy, PhD, MPH served as an evaluator of the Ponzio Creative Arts Therapy program from 2010 to 2019. She centered the voices and experiences of therapists and young people in her evaluation efforts. Dr. Kennedy is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Community and Behavioral Health Department at the Colorado School of Public Health and Executive Dreamer of the Hub for Justice-centered Youth Engagement within the Center for Public Health Practice.

KerryLyn Kercher, MA, R-DMT, LPCC

A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Working with Extended Stay Adolescents and Children within a Hospital Setting


KerryLyn Kercher, MA, R-DMT, LPCC, is Dance/Movement therapist at Children’s Hospital Colorado for patient populations in both the mental health hospital and medical units. KerryLyn holds BFA in dance performance from Shenandoah Conservatory and MA in dance/movement therapy and counseling from Drexel University.  She was a Germany Fulbright recipient 2021–2022 under study and research within the Research Institute for Creative Arts Therapies (RIArT) at Alanus University in Alfter/Bonn. Her rich background in performance, teaching, research and counseling provides her a unique lens to engage in treatment through dance/movement therapy. KerryLyn’s professional curiosities include working with individuals with depression, anxiety, trauma and attachment-related disorders, as well as using dance/movement therapy approaches with individuals diagnosed with Autism and other developmental disorders.

Carmen Martinez, MA, MS, C-IAYT

Regulating the Nervous System with Yoga Therapy

The coupling of Eastern philosophy and ideology with Western medical views has brought forth innovative and alternative ways to examine “dis-ease.” This session will focus on how yoga therapy examines the whole person—physical, mental/emotional, spiritual—and empowers individuals to make choices for their health and well-being. Simple, short practices will be introduced so that all attendees can experience how to regulate their own nervous systems with yoga. 


Carmen has been a Yoga Therapist at Children’s Hospital Colorado for two years. She primarily works in the Pediatric Mental Health Institute (PMHI), facilitating yoga therapy groups and meeting individually with patients. She is passionate about helping individuals rediscover their wholeness, as well as assisting them along the journey of creating more meaning in their lives.

Katherine Reed, LPC, ATR, Robert Franklin II, MPA

Culture Changers: Integration of Creative Arts Therapy into Staff Diversity, Health Equity, Inclusion, and Resilience Development

The Ponzio Creative Arts Therapy Program provides innovative approaches in clinical care for children and adolescents. In addition, it provides effective interventions to reduce anxiety, depression, PTSD, and burnout symptoms in hospital staff members. The Colorado Resiliency Arts Lab (CORAL) is a collaboration of 3 entities, including University Researchers, Lighthouse Writers Workshop and the PCAT Program. Since 2019, we have developed a solid body of evidence in our 7 cohorts of over 400 health care professionals in the Denver Metro area.

The Captains of Inclusion (COI) Development Program at Children's Colorado has been a flagship of the Diversity, Health Equity, and Inclusion Department. From its inception in 2018, the PCAT program has been integrated in its planning and execution. As a means of deepening, reflecting, and holding the intensity of the emotional experience of the participants, creative arts therapy has helped over 150 Captains transform their own perspectives and develop language & skills sets for their anti-racism, advocacy, and inclusion work. 


Katherine Reed (LPC), Art Therapist, has managed the Ponzio Creative Arts Therapy Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado since its inception in 2005. From 1999-2001, Katherine served as a Peace Corps Health Education Volunteer in Burkina Faso, West Africa, following 9 years of teaching Art, French, and Sex Education in Colorado public schools. She earned her Masters in Art Therapy at the Art Institute of Chicago, with a focus on social action. Katherine’s current role allows her to integrate her passions: mental health awareness and services, diversity, health equity, inclusion, and creative arts as vehicles for healing, building, and empowering communities. Katherine has co-created and facilitated the Captains of Inclusion Development Program, and lead her team in the development of CORAL, the NEA-funded Colorado Resilience in Arts Lab, to design, facilitate, and study creative arts therapy resilience strategies for health care professionals.

Robert Franklin II, MPA, In addition to maintaining consulting relationships throughout the US with organizations and individuals in service and community facing roles, Robert has been lead of diversity, equity and inclusion programs and initiatives for Children’s Hospital Colorado since the summer of 2018.  Guided by coordinated strategy and impactful initiatives, Robert directs the interventions, programs and consultative efforts with caregivers and staff as they learn and talk about, celebrate and take action in response to the differences individuals bring. The community facing work of both his passion and position led him to also volunteer as the Colorado Public Health Association’s Health Equity Officer, where he’s able to bring both hospital resources and an openness to accountability for forwarding the work toward health equity.

Michele Turek, (She/Her) ATR-BC, LPC

Mindful art therapy: Creating art with your Inner Critic

This presentation will be part experiential, sited research and case presentation that will explore how mindfulness-based art therapy practices have developed within the Pediatric Mental Health Institute’s models of care. It will highlight how art therapy processes with mindfulness meditation practices can transform one’s inner critic and challenge intrusive thoughts that hinder one’s mental health.


Michele Turek earned her master’s degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology and Art Therapy from Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado. She has work as an art therapist, artist-in-residence, visual artist and mindfulness-based therapist in Colorado, New York, and California.  As a member of the Ponzio Creative Arts Therapy Program since 2004, she incorporates clinical theories and mindfulness practices with art therapy for individual, group or family treatment within the Pediatric Mental Health Institute of care. Previously to CHCO, Michele has provided integrative art processes with present moment awareness practices for youth within the juvenile justice system and young adults struggling with substance & abuse diagnoses.

A general certificate of attendance will be available for attendees upon completion of the evaluation.

Available Credit

  • 6.25 Attendance


Please login or register to take this course.

To request arrangements to accommodate a disability, please contact Tanya Forsyth, at or 720-777-9942, three weeks in advance of the conference.

Required Hardware/software

High speed internet and audio recommend for Zoom connection. Camera optional.