Breakthrough - Healing Through the Arts

YWCA Toronto’s Breakthrough program offers support groups for women and gender diverse individuals who have experienced violence. Violence is defined as any form of violence experienced at any time in someone’s life. Our program offers participants the opportunity to explore and practice how to use the arts, mindfulness and connect to the body to heal from the effects of trauma.

Our program is free of charge.

We aim to provide a trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, participant-centered, and resource-based program to best support and continually learn from our participants. 

  • Women and gender diverse individuals who have experienced or are experiencing violence (physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal, financial or spiritual) at any point in their life (childhood to adulthood; current or past)

  • Are interested in healing in a supportive group environment

  • Want to work with the arts, mindfulness and body-based awareness practices

  • Support to explore, learn and practice ways to heal from the effects of trauma using the arts, mindfulness and connecting to the body

  • Opportunities to try new art-making techniques and creative expression

  • Opportunities to try new mindfulness and grounding practices

  • Support to explore and learn more about yourself

  • A community to connect with others who have also experienced violence

  • A safe, supportive and non-judgemental space

  • Information to help make decisions about safety and well-being, including resources and referrals

  • A social action program available to participants who have experience in our program

  • TTC tokens when participants attend group

  • Childcare while participants attend group

The program is offered three times a year: Winter (January-March), Spring (April-June) and Fall (September-December).

**** COVID-19 UPDATE ****
Breakthrough is returning to in-person programming. The group will be offered in central Toronto, close to a subway station. The exact location can be provided during the intake process.

We have a two stage process that we complete before groups begin. First, a discussion over the phone so that we can provide further information about the program and to make sure the program is right for you at this time. If the program feels right, we schedule a time to meet to continue reflecting on potential supports, resources and challenges.

We usually register participants before groups have begun (December for Winter session, March for Spring session and August for Fall session) because it is important for all participants to start at the same time. However, if space frees up near the beginning of a session, we offer it to new participants. Feel free to contact us at any point for more information or to start registering.

If you are curious about mindfulness and creative practices, you may want to watch some of YWCA Toronto’s Breakthrough videos. The Breakthrough Introduction Video explains why we created this content and what is included in the other videos. You can start by watching the Breakthrough Introduction Video or you can jump right into the videos listed below. No experience is required. No materials are required other than secure internet access. These videos are available to offer self-care and to learn more about what we do at Breakthrough.

Breakthrough Introduction Video: We created these videos to invite program participants, the YWCA community and the public to join us in creative and mindfulness practices that you can do at home. This video is not essential to watch in order to participate in our other videos. This video is around three and a half minutes long.
Watch the video

Take a Pause: View this video if you want to learn more about how you can use the videos with the theme: Take a Pause and why we chose this theme. The videos in the Take a Pause series includes a poem, creative practices and mindfulness that can be completed all together or separately. This video is not essential to watch in order to participate. This video is approximately four minutes long.
Watch the video

Take a Pause: Poem Reading: View this video to listen to the poem, Enough by David Whyte. This poem relates to the theme: Take a Pause. The video offers time to reflect on the poem. This video is approximately five minutes long. 
Watch the video

Take a Pause: Creative Practice: View this video to try out exploring Take a Pause through creative practices. You may want to have a piece of paper and writing tools to participate but they are not necessary. This video is approximately eight minutes long.
Watch the video

Take a Pause: Mindfulness: View this video to follow a mindfulness practice that invites you to use breath, hand movement and humming related to the theme, Take a Pause. This video includes journal questions to prompt you to reflect on your experience following the practice. This video is approximately 16 minutes long.
Watch the video

Loving Kindness Mindfulness Meditation: View this video to follow a mindfulness practice that invites you to place hand on heart and belly, and send loving kindness to yourself and others. This video is approximately eight minutes long.
Watch the video

STOP Mindfulness Meditation: View this video to follow a mindfulness practice using a practice called STOP: Stop, Take a breath, Observe and Proceed with awareness. You can use this practice in your life when you are feeling challenging emotions or thoughts. This video is approximately 17 minutes long.
Watch the video

Drawing a Rose by Helena Everley Zhang: View this video to follow Helena Everley Zhang as she mindfully walks you through how to draw a rose. This video is approximately eight minutes long.
Watch the video

Related Programs

Parenting After Abuse 

Find out about our Here to Help program. 

Mental Health Support 

Explore the free Choices for Living program.


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