Expressive Arts Therapy is a therapeutic approach which uses many modalities of creative expression and engagement of the imagination to help connect with inner resources for healing within.
When we express ourselves through the arts we are opening a door into our own unconscious, through which we can pass and connect with different parts of ourselves which may not be voiced cognitively.
Expressive Arts Therapy offers a safe stage allowing our inner selves to come forward. In meeting the imagination, we have the ability to create something new, bring together senses into form so we can meet them, whatever form it takes, and engage with them. We are able to bring forward the material of our lives, reveal what has been hidden and express old stories in new ways. Our feelings and experiences have an opportunity to transform and release through dynamic use of creativity.
Expressive Arts Therapy is multi modal and may incorporate writing, drama, dance, movement, sculpture, visual art, and/or music. The focus is on the process of creation rather than dissecting the art, or the final product.
"I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn't say any other way, things I had no words for"
― Georgia O’Keeffe
Art is non verbal. We are able to connect to the places within us which may not be accessible cognitively. Creative expression is a way to connect with one's own resources…our inner wisdom speaks to us through the art process.
No experience is necessary!
Many traumas are stored non verbally in the brain and body. It is difficult to reach these wordless places and reflect on them through the use of language. When we engage through the arts, we can move through the memory and know our experience in a way the words cannot express. The arts become a field of play upon which we are able to safely relive some of the disturbing situations in our lives and project our response. Expression through creativity creates an opportunity to do and say in the here and now what we could not say in the past when it perhaps felt too dangerous or threatening.
Art, play, and imagination tends to take us directly to the emotional core and complexities of past trauma. We allow for our wounds and fragmentation to be seen and embraced, which then allows wounds to heal and create new formation.
“It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.”
― Donald Woods Winnicott, Playing and Reality
Play is a form of expression. In play, the individual has the opportunity to engage the imagination, through which an ‘image’ unfolds. The image may be a metaphor for difficult events or situations in life. Through play, a child has the opportunity to act out and resolve emotions and Trauma. For example, when playing a lego war in the sandbox, a child may be acting out aggression or fears. Putting a doll to bed can be regulating and soothing.