Expressive arts therapy is a form of therapy that promotes healing and personal growth through our natural desire to create something. Also known as expressive therapy, the expressive arts therapist combines traditional psychotherapy and art. The therapist may include creative processes such as writing, music, drama, poetry, dance, sandplay, symbols and other form of artistic expression as therapeutic tools.
The aim of using expressive arts therapy is to create a natural process of moving from everyday expectations into the world of imagination and creativity that results in art-making. As art develops from a deep emotional place inside you, the creative process enables you to undergo a profound process of self-discovery and understanding. Creativity becomes the pathway to self-discovery and learning, leading to uncover inner feelings.
Expressive arts therapy is different from art therapy. The art therapist tends to utilise one particular artistic platform around drawing or painting. However, expressive arts therapy is a multi-modal approach that uses various forms of creative expression in addition to painting and drawing.
The therapists using expressive arts do not interpret, critique or challenge the meaning of your art piece or creation. Instead, the expressive arts therapist will collaborate with you to explore, clarify and process your feelings, emotions and sense behind the art you created. Expressive arts help connect you with your subconscious and unconscious level, leading to deeper self-awareness.
Studies have shown that expressive arts therapy helps reduce anxiety and improve mood and communication, which leads to better development of personal strengths and skills. Those in particular who might benefit from expressive arts therapy are people who experience:
Anxiety or stress
Relationship issues or problems with conflict resolution
Trauma (e.g., sexual, physical or emotional abuse, PTSD)
Psychological disorders (e.g., eating disorders)
Alcohol or drug addiction
Chronic conditions (e.g., cancer or chronic pain)
It is essential to note that you do not need to possess artistic talent or training to benefit from expressive arts therapy. The goal is not about making a beautiful art piece but about the therapeutic process of developing insights through art-making and reflection. Thus, people of all ages and cultural backgrounds may benefit from expressive arts therapy. Expressive arts therapy helps people who find it difficult to express themselves verbally to communicate their challenges. It is also helpful for people who have difficulty expressing their painful emotions, like anger, sadness, grief, or shame by connecting with those emotions safely.
Restoring Peace Counselling & Consultancy offers expressive art therapy and other psychotherapy and counselling services. Please find out more at www.restoringpeace.com.sg or Whatsapp us at +65 8889 1848.
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