Expressive Arts Therapy

What is Expressive Arts Therapy?

Expressive Arts Therapy (EXA) is using the arts such as visual art, writing, music, dance, drama, voice to help people with various challenges in their life.  Challenges may be relationship based, psychological or emotional.  They may include life traumas or transitions.  Everyone has within them the ability to respond in creative ways to situations and struggles.  Employing artistic practices gives us a bodily and emotional relationship to what we’re experiencing.  By engaging in play and the arts, we move into the imagination. It is through the imagination that one finds within themselves resources and strengths that we did not know we had.  These inner resources help us to discover possible solutions that were previously undiscovered and we gain a sense of our abilities that can be used in everyday living rather than focusing and dwelling on the problems. The EXA approach focuses on relationship, is strength-based and solution-focused. The therapy is both verbal and non-verbal.

How does it differ from Art Therapy?

Expressive Arts Therapy distinguishes itself from art therapy by combining different art modalities within a therapy session. 

Who can benefit from Expressive Arts Therapy?

Even though we use the arts that involve our senses and emotions, people do not have to have any artistic skill whatsoever.  During an EXA session, we not only talk about the difficulties, we also actively engage in artistic practices that give us a bodily and emotional connection to what we’re experiencing.  The Expressive Arts Therapist helps by guiding and supporting the process while maintaining a very safe environment.  Through the process people gain a sense of their own unique abilities that can be used to assist with solving the problems and issues in daily life.

Individuals of all ages, abilities and backgrounds may find the process of expressive arts therapy enjoyable, relaxing and stimulating. Anyone who is experiencing issues pertaining to stress, anxiety or depression may benefit.  As well, people who are experiencing or have experienced loss/grief, relationship issues; trauma; substance use or other issues affecting mental and emotional wellbeing would benefit.

 

What to expect from an Expressive Arts therapy session?

Expressive Arts therapy focuses on the process of engaging in the arts.  I will create a safe and supportive environment and together we engage in a curious exploration within a flexible structure that enables you to explore the problems, challenges and issues that you’ve identified in a process that utilizes various forms of expression.  As mentioned earlier, clients do not have to possess any skills or abilities in any of the areas of various art forms.  As with any therapy process, feelings, thoughts, emotions and body responses often emerge.  This can sometimes cause a person to feel worse before they feel better.  I encourage every person to reach out when they feel they need additional support with this.