Movement – Sound – Visual Art – Voice – Word

There are all sorts of ways for people to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions in ways other than talking.

Expressive Arts uses a variety of ‘creative modalities.’

A modality could be movement (motions, gestures, stretches, dance), sound (voice, instruments, music), visual art (painting/multi-media work/collage/book-making/sculpture etc.), or the use of words (writing/poetry). Modalities are used separately, together, and in sequence to explore themes emerging from the conscious and unconscious.

Expressive arts is ‘inter-modal.’

This means an integrated use of more than one modality within a session; you may start with movement, then move to visual or auditory modes, one to the next, within one session. Your facilitator designs an experience and responds to your process, in the moment.

Symbols, metaphor and physical expression are used to stimulate creative energies and calm the mind; to get back in touch with the body and to find, recognize and experience a deep inner voice. It helps set the spirit free!

  • More of your senses are engaged in a process of creative self-discovery, self-reflection, and understanding.
  • It’s “therapeutic” without being therapy.
  • It’s based on the idea that when we provide the right conditions for ourselves, we open the doors to growth, and when we tap into our creativity we discover natural sources of imagery and energy for personal expression that help us become more creative, resourceful and whole.

An expressive arts session may involve using a new creative skill or technique, but it’s different than taking an art class.

Art classes often emphasize development of technical skills and producing a finished product, often to some preconceived notion of an acceptable outcome. By contrast Expressive Art emphasizes the process of exploring, expressing and expanding on the thoughts, feelings and images that arise through the art-making in all its forms.

Why it’s helpful

  • Relaxation and stress reduction
  • Uses the imagination to transform frustration
  • Captures a sense of personal empowerment
  • Is oriented towards wellness-recovery and well being
  • Provides opportunity to process challenges, loss and transitions
  • Useful for sorting out choices and options, and figuring out how to move forward
  • Useful for articulating a greater sense of purpose

What’s my philosophy?

Person-centered, inter-modal, strengths-focused, and tailored to the person in ways that strive to advance well-being. The emphasis is towards ‘restorative’ work and the approach is about creative self-expression, wellness-recovery, and making meaning which naturally leads to practices that

  • emphasize self-care (body-mind-spirit)
  • build resilience (cope better with anxiety, depression or loss), and help you
  • navigate life transitions more smoothly

There is a continuum in the Expressive Arts. It can be…

1. Recreational, where the focus is on play, pleasure and the entertainment of a person or a group of people

2. Self-exploration and personal growth, which includes aesthetic, artistic and affective sensitivity through exploration of personal values, emotions and feelings, self-integration and awareness of personal symbols and metaphor

3. Problem solving, through exploration of personal, career, relationship, community and societal issue

4. Educational, where the expression engages the senses and imagination of participants for the purposes of relationship, communications and team-building, or skill development

5. Therapy which starts from a base of psychotherapy (individual, group, family, bereavement, trauma, relationship) where the emphasis is on assessment, diagnosis, creation of a treatment plan, interpretation, and healing

6. Art therapy, which starts from a base of psychotherapy to help those with emotional and psychological difficulties deal with problems based on an understanding of clinical psychology, in combination with the creative process

7. Deep therapy, which is concerned with psychological processing, psychodrama, body integration and ‘super-conscious’ work involving personal vision-quests, culture-specific, and spiritual explorations

When I work with people the focus is generally on self-exploration, personal growth and problem-solving.  For me, ‘educational’ moves into the realm of facilitation work in the non-profit sector.  5,6,7 are areas in which I do not practice.

Find out more…

Visit the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association, (IEATA) or the Ontario Expressive Arts Therapy Association, (OEATA) or, if you have questions about how any of this might work for you, please feel free to contact me.