“Art can be said to be – and can be used as – the externalized map of our interior self”
– Peter Landon
Expressive Arts Therapy:
The Expressive & Creative ARTS has the power to transform. It can be the catalyst for gaining deepening self-awareness to then translate into the desired changes you seek to create in your life.
As stated by the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA), expressive arts combines the visual arts, movement, drama, music, writing, and other creative processes for personal growth and transformation.
With Expressive Arts Therapy, a basic tenant is that each human is unique and creativity is a natural state, a human quality one is born with. In this type of work, the product of creation as an aesthetic form is not the primary focus but rather the process and meaning assigned to what is created. No art experience is necessary to engage in this modality of therapy.
As is cited in an article called, The ART of Healing; Creative Therapy Aids Recovery by Marlaina Donato in the publication Natural Awakenings, “Creativity from a clinical perspective allows for new emotional vantage points, distance from situations and viewing experiences through a different lens. Bringing in creativity offers a wider palette of tools or access points and give us another way to understand ourselves.”
In this modality, there is a non-verbal component or an alternative form of communication, accessing a different part of the brain, to express feelings and thoughts that one may not have access to through talk therapy alone. In this way, it can be a powerful aid to the therapeutic process of healing. It can help with symptom relief and affective-behavioral changes. One may find images or symbols that express one’s inner world that are not fully captured in words alone.
There is research on the neurochemical brain benefits of creating art. In a study at Drexel University published in The Arts in Psychotherapy, it showed neurological effects of drawing, coloring, and simple doodling resulted in a dopamine response in the brain which is responsible for decreasing symptoms of anxiety and increasing feelings of joy.
As a therapist trained in expressive arts therapy, I use art to support and guide you to fulfill your personal goals. Expressive arts therapy combines traditional psychotherapeutic practices with an understanding of the creative process. This modality of therapy has been found to be effective in the treatment of a myriad of clinical issues such as anxiety, depression, life transitions, trauma/PTSD and addiction & recovery treatment.
The language of my HeART has always been creativity and the arts. My grandmother wrote a note about each of her 7 grandchildren when we were 5 years of age. Mine read like this: “Little miss petite who loves collecting things in nature and making things. She loves glue and papers and creating things with her hands.”
Creating in symbols and images about what is going on in one’s inner world can help to externalize what needs to be expressed for healing.