What is Expressive Arts Therapy?
You do not have to be an "artist" to benefit from the Expressive Arts (EXA). In fact, if you have little to no background in the arts, you are in a great place to begin! EXA is not about painting a "pretty picture", performing a polished dance piece or writing a poem ready for publication. Instead, EXA is about learning to trust that when we are engaged in the flow of creativity and spontaneity, we can gain deeper insights, develop new meanings and discover surprising solutions.
Despite some assumptions, talk is an important component of this work. Additionally, Expressive Arts Therapy includes the use of visual arts, movement, drama, music, writing, sand tray therapy and other creative arts therapies, either independently or in combination with one another. Discovering which of these modalities will bring forth your greatest strengths and resources is an exciting part of the work. Because change can only occur when there is a balance of safety and risk, I am regularly checking in and shaping the expressive arts experience to make sure that you are feeling safe and secure while also encouraging you to challenge yourself. I help establish this sense of safety in the following ways:
- Opportunities to "warm up" to creativity and spontaneity
- Creative options to choose from (or disregard altogether!)
- As much (or as little) direction and guidance as is needed
- Open invitation to dialogue about the process from beginning to end.
- Taking time to help you share and integrate the creative experience once it is complete
Because the creative possibilities are endless, there is no "typical session". However, most of our sessions include four important components:
Setting an Intention. This may be a part of your longer-term personal goals in therapy or be more specific to the moment in which we find ourselves in
The Creative Encounter. Once we've decided together which creative modality (or modalities) you might work in, the creative process begins!
Sharing/Witnessing. Being seen and having an opportunity to verbally process your creative encounter can be one of the most powerful parts the of the session.
Integrating/Harvesting. This last step is important in helping you to bring what you need from the session into your life, so that the session can continue to benefit you even when it is over.