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Post Traumatic Gifts: Creative Programming for PTSD Warriors

PTSD Education and Broadway Musical Theatre (View a comprehensive guide here.)

cgtfutBased in part on Amy’s personal experience surviving ten years of medical interventions, sexual abuse and PTSD, Post Traumatic Gifts is a 60-90 minute program combining storytelling, participatory discussion, creativity, and a keynote speech.

(If interested in hosting a performance of Gutless & Grateful, Amy’s award-winning one-woman musical, go here.

Trauma topics are below.  Click here for programs specifically focused on sexual assault prevention.

Explore the secrets to gratitude, hope, stories and creativity to find the gifts that stem from trauma.

Watch Amy’s TEDx Talk below. (Next TED Talk video will be live May 2017)

PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.  ( A “fight-or-flight” response is a natural biological reaction, meant to protect a person from harm.  But an individual who has PTSD may continue to feel stressed or frightened, long after the danger is over.

View Behavioral Health Topics.

Post Traumatic Gifts is deeply rooted in understanding now trauma affects an individual and society as a whole.

Read more in Amy’s articles:

 I am a PTSD peer-to-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for The Huffington Post, health advocate, TEDx and RAINN Speaker, actress, and playwright.  I’ve been through my own ordeal of sexual abuse, 27 surgeries, coma, organ failure, six years being unable to eat or drink, and the PTSD that comes from ten years of trauma, and have devoted my efforts to helping others transform trauma into creative growth through their own inner resources.

If you feel like life's suddenly shattered to pieces...Post Traumatic Gifts is a program that combines storytelling, creative mental health advocacy and sexual assault prevention, which was originally devised for the National Mental Health America Conference.  I’ve presented this keynote internationally to organizations, conferences, hospitals and universities since 2012,  in order to holistically empower individuals struggling with physical and mental illness.  

View a comprehensive guide of the programming options.  

Post Traumatic Gifts can also be expanded into three components:

Part 1) 60-90 minute multi-faceted keynote: “Gutless & Grateful” – a comedic yet poignant story on how I survived 27 stomach surgeries, organ failure and sexual abuse. Through interwoven song and dialogue, I share a primal piece of live-storytelling – a powerful message that it’s possible to overcome physical and mental health obstacles.

Part 2) An educational session/speech:  I discuss a compassionate approach to well-being, how to develop a resiliency toolbox, and how to feel comfortable reaching out to a support system.  Individuals will learn self soothing techniques coming from mindfulness practices, creative arts therapies, and Somatic Experiencing.

Part 3) A Q&A session and creative participation segment: to introduce local and national resources for trauma, to explain common symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, to define Post Traumatic Growth, and to discuss the role of trauma in society, as well as the gifts that trauma survivors are ultimately able to share with the community.  This can also be used as an information session for friends and families.

You can see view videos, learning objectives, educational content, CV, professional references and a booking history at this link:

You can also view my entertainment-based program geared more specifically towards sexual assault here:

You can also view my specific topics for patients and healthcare professionals at (This is the program I’ll be presenting at the Eastern Regional WOCN Conference this November, and have presented to over 500 nurses at the National WOCN Conference in 2014.)

dircvrLove My Detour: Post Traumatic Gifts. is part of the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military, and can be found on the National Initiative Directory, as well as


See Amy’s program:  What’s So Funny About PTSD? Humor, Music, and the Power of Our Stories (Catch it next at the American Association for Therapeutic Humor Annual Conference this April in Orlando, Florida)

PTSD: The Mosaic I See (from Amy’s Huffington Post Essay) “My perspective on illness has changed since my days of “croup”, and it’s also changed since my last surgical intervention. I’ve learned that illness isn’t always in the physical scars. I’ve learned that some wounds aren’t visible, and some wounds even we don’t know we have, until we choose to take care of them. But I’ve also learned that I’m resilient, strong, broken and put together again, differently, yet even more beautiful – like a mosaic.

PTSD has not broken me. It’s taken me apart, and I’m reassembling myself day by day. In the meantime, I’m learning to love what I can build.”

The Recipe for Resiliency: Four Essential Mental Health Mindsets for a Healthy, Heart-Full Life

Drawn-to-the-LightThey’re simpler than you think and more powerful than you expect.  Gratitude, Hope, Creativity, Stories. 
These might be easily confused with whimsical phrases on gifted journals you’ll find at the bookstore.  That’s what makes these growth skills so great — basic, long-term mindsets that anyone can foster, enabling us all to mentally conquer any obstacle we face.  Learn how to use creativity as a mindset, allowing us to interact with a deeper part of our aliveness, and build a stronger identity for ourselves.  A strong sense of identity is the greatest compass on any “detour” that life takes.  Amy will share how these skills fostered the resilience which enabled her to thrive after her own near-death experience, and find the blessings that came from trauma.  Learn how to utilize these skills to overcome any obstacles, turning life’s detours into a path with purpose.

Learn more in Amy’s Huffington Post article, “Four Hard-Core Skills to Resilience”

 Additional Topics

Post Traumatic Gifts can also involve various pertinent topics, including:

Turn Your Life into the Best Story You Ever Read


Does life seem overwhelming? Do your circumstances feel shaky, uncertain and frightening?  Use the power of stories to reframe your narratives and become the author of our own lives. Learn more in Amy’s Huffington Post article, “Turn Your Life Into the Best Story You’ve Ever Read”

The spoken, sung and written word has the power to transform our lives, our community, shape our world, cultivate self love and compassion. Using the transformative power of theatre and language, Amy will show how through spoken word, storytelling and creativity, we can transform our personal experience and affect the lives us others. Writing our own narratives means listening to our hearts.  Our stories enrich our community and change the world by setting our vision honoring the ideas we believe in, and teach others the lessons we have learned for ourselves.  Through sharing our stories, we ignite the authors in each other, and empower our community.

Learn emotional and persuasive power of telling an authentic story and proves it to be an essential leadership, self-development and resiliency skill.

Creativity: The Only Mindset You Need


Creativity is not only a mindset, but an essential survival skill. Creativity puts the magic back in life, so not only are we never bored, we are constantly inspired, present, empowered, and happy.  Learn how to use creativity as a roadmap, an anchor to the self, and a lifeline to the community.Learn more in Amy’s Huffington Post article on Creativity.

PTSD and Sexual Assault

I'm not a victim.

What factors lead to individual’s ability to assertively cope with and escape from potentially dangerous situations?  In the wake of sexual assault, destructive coping strategies can lead to amplified PTSD symptoms and victimization.

Through sexual assault prevention, PTSD education and empathy-building, we assert our innate power to move through trauma.  By understanding the psychological repercussions of sexual violence, individuals are empowered to come forward as allies and leaders, creating a community striving towards compassion.  Learn healthy coping skills for healing after sexual assault.  Learn more in Amy’s Huffington Post article on Sexual Assault and Healing Through Our Voices.  More in depth programming here.

Food and Gratitude: Nourish Your Body, and Stay Hungry for Life 


“Surgeons connected my body, but food connected my mind and soul.”  After being unable to eat a morsel of food or drink a drop of liquid for six years, Amy learned powerful lessons about the emotional, physical, psychological and social importance of food.  Relearning how to nourish her body after 27 surgeries required and new approach to self-love and self-care.  Take an empowered, compassionate approach to nourishing your body and come to love the food that breathes passion into your life.  With mindfulness, you’ll learn to observe your thoughts and emotions without immediately acting and are better able to choose how to react more effectively.  Embrace your right and responsibility to define beauty on your own terms and to love and respect themselves and their bodies. Form a deeper relationship with yourself and with others through love, care and confidence.  Shedding insight into our emotional and intellectual relationships with food, Amy goes far beyond body image and eating disorders to get to the heart of the issue, helping individuals shape their perspectives about nutrition, stress and weight management, with humor, poignancy, and practical tools.

You’re a Detourist

A Detourist looks for the upside of obstacles. A Detourist follows that twisted path because they’re curious to see where it could lead.  Learn more about Detourist Participatory Creative Workshops.
A Detourist travels along detours – simple enough.  But in addition, a Detourist embraces those unexpected routes as opportunities for growth, change and self-fulfillment. Amy is living proof that a detour can lead to unexpected blessings.  The art of “Detourism” is the subject of Amy’s TEDx talk.  Learn why being a Detourist is the road that leads to living your best life.  Learn more here.

Learn more about Amy’s entertainment based PTSD and Mental Health Program, Gutless and Grateful

“I grew up believing that my entire life would be dedicated to the performing arts.  Now, I’m also a survivor and “thriver” of sexual abuse, 27 surgeries, coma, organ failure, and the PTSD that comes from ten years of trauma – or what I now call my “beautiful detour.”

At 18, years old, a blood clot caused my body to go into septic shock.  I was in a coma for six months, and after a total gastrectomy, I was unable to eat or drink a drop of water for six of the past ten years.  After 27 surgeries, I was miraculously reconnected with the intestines I had left.  To persevere through those tumultuous years took great inner and outer strength – strength I didn’t know I was capable of until I was tested.

I learned that the human spirit feeds off of hope, and hope is fuel we can cultivate ourselves.  Ultimately, I learned that with resourcefulness, creativity, and unwavering curiosity, we can transform any adversity into personal growth and a resilience that is uniquely ours.

Everything became possible once I was willing to intentionally wander from the life I planned and embrace this “detour” as an opportunity for discovery. This is not the life that I planned for myself – but does anyone’s life ever work out exactly how they plan it?”

Book Amy as a speaker today.


View a booking history, professional references and audience testimonials here.


“Post Traumatic Gifts” is also listed in the directory for the National Initiative for Arts in the Military

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