Sharing in the Healing Journey

YWCA Toronto is delivering and testing a program to address domestic violence by increasing opportunities for participants to process their experiences through expressive arts. 

Implemented in the Scarborough neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario, this project empowers caregivers and their children to better manage their emotions, strengthen their resilience, and develop new ways to cope with the impact of their exposure to domestic violence while reducing the risk of re-traumatization. Through their interaction with the arts, participants are able to safely explore their experiences by fostering self-awareness, communication, and connection to skills, abilities and values that support healing and wellness. 

Community of Practice members:

Bari Knopf


Bari Knopf is the Expressive Arts Coordinator for the Girls and Family program at YWCA Toronto. Bari received a Masters education in expressive arts therapy at European Graduate School in Switzerland and has been engaged in expressive arts-based facilitation and counselling for the last 7 years. Bari is particularly interested in exploring the potential of expressive arts-based interventions to engage families who may find traditional verbal discourse inaccessible or limited as a means of identifying needs and feelings. Bari is also excited to witness the arts being a potentially empowering medium for individuals to share wisdom with one another and with other communities. 

Maria Palma  

Maria Palma is the coordinator a group program for children and their caregivers who are survivors of domestic violence. Through an internship in an expressive arts group for adult women and gender diverse trauma survivors, Maria was witness to the possibilities of working through an expressive arts model to support both children and their parents in healing from domestic violence. This is the inspiration behind the Sharing in the Healing Journey project. With over 25 years in working with women and children, Maria brings to the program knowledge around parenting, child development, supporting family connections and strengths-based counselling support.