Expressive Art Therapy
What is Intermodal Expressive Arts Therapy?
Expressive Arts Therapy uses five art disciplines to help people make and manage change, ease suffering, and foster personal growth.
Each discipline, whether visual arts, movement, drama, music or writing, brings unique strengths and abilities to bridge the literal reality of "here & now" and the world of the imagination through the senses. An expressive arts therapist uses more than one art discipline to better follow the client's creative urges move from action to sound to image. We are expert at tracking and following these non-verbal messages. Verbal reflection helps make sense of and more deeply understand the art making process and art produced.
Photo: Thomine Sue Wilson
We use the term "expressive arts" to distinguish this way of working from entertainment or purely aesthetic uses of art making. Our purpose is to make art that is a container for the suffering and conflicts of a life; and give voice to life's joy and grandeur as well. We feel that art making is an inherent faculty of all human beings. By engaging in the art making the client as artist participates in his/her own healing, using the language of his/her own psyche, guided from within, rather than imposed from without.
The therapeutic relationship is central to this process and is based on aesthetics, sensitivity and non-judgment rather than analysis or interpretation. The education of the expressive arts therapist differs from other creative arts therapists in that we are art based rather than psychology based and frame our work in the language and processes of the arts. An interdisciplinary education allows us to be influenced and informed by theories from philosophy, psychology, anthropology, eco-aesthetics, studio art and other areas of study.
We recognize that art is the medicine, that making and witnessing what arrives is an act of healing. As we create the art, we create our lives. By integrating the arts modalities and allowing one to flow into another, we gain access to our inner resources for healing, clarity, illumination and creativity. We improvise and respond, find personal resources, deepen resilience and awareness of beauty enhancing the sense of satisfaction and connection with life.
Expressive arts therapy is now used in almost all psychotherapeutic contexts and settings. As a result of their versatility, the arts can be used to serve the severely disturbed, the deeply suffering, facilitate human growth and potential as well as provide essential joy, relaxation and pleasure.
A typical session is as follows:
- Recent events and/or issues are discussed
- Themes arise and become starting points for art making
- Lynn offers support in the creative process and enlivening the senses.
- Other art forms may be introduced to further deepen and clarify the experience
- Participant and practitioner interact with the work that has been created
- Reflection on the process, outcome and connection to life situation are explored
- Sessions are 1- 1.5 hours in length with a recommended attendance of weekly or semi-monthly appointments.
The International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA) is the professional organization which oversees educational guidelines and professional registration for this field. They can be contacted at www.ieata.org.