Expressive therapy, also known as expressive arts therapy or creative arts therapy, is the use of the creative arts as a form of therapy. Unlike traditional art expression, the process of creation is emphasized rather than the final product. Expressive therapy is predicated on the assumption that people can heal through use of imagination and the various forms of creative expression.
Some common types of expressive therapy include:
All expressive therapists share the belief that through creative expression and the tapping of the imagination, a person can examine the body, feelings, emotions and his or her thought process.
Although often separated by the form of creative art, some expressive therapists consider themselves intermodal, using expression in general, rather than a specific discipline to treat clients, altering their approach based on the clients' needs, or through using multiple forms of expression with the same client to aid with deeper exploration.
Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses art materials, such as paints, chalk and markers. Art therapy combines traditional psychotherapeutic theories and techniques with an understanding of the psychological aspects of the creative process, especially the affective properties of the different art materials.
As a mental health profession, art therapy is employed in many clinical settings with diverse populations. Art therapy can be found in non-clinical settings as well as in art studios and in workshops that focus on creativity development. Closely related in practice to marriage and family therapists and mental health counseling, art therapists in many states are licensed as either MFTs, LPCs, or LPCCs and hold either registration or board certification as an art therapist (see section on Art Therapy Standards of Practice). Art therapists work with children, adolescents, and adults and provide services to individuals, couples, families, groups, and communities.
Purpose of Art Therapy
The purpose of art therapy is much the same as in any other psychotherapeutic modality: to improve or maintain mental health and emotional well-being. But whereas some of the other expressive therapies utilize the performing arts for expressive purposes, art therapy generally utilizes drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, and other forms of visual art expression. For that reason art therapists are trained to recognize the nonverbal symbols and metaphors that are communicated within the creative process, symbols and metaphors which might be difficult to express in words or in other modalities. By helping their clients to discover what underlying thoughts and feelings are being communicated in the artwork and what it means to them, it is hoped that clients will not only gain insight and judgment, but perhaps develop a better understanding of themselves and the way they relate to the people around them. According to Malchiodi (2006) "Art making is seen as an opportunity to express oneself imaginatively, authentically, and spontaneously, an experience that, over time, can lead to personal fulfillment, emotionally reparation, and transformation. This view also holds that the creative process, in and of itself, can be a health-enhancing and growth-producing experience."
Music therapy is an interpersonal process in which the therapist uses music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients to improve or maintain their health. In some instances, the client's needs are addressed directly through music; in others they are addressed through the relationships that develop between the client and therapist. Music therapy is used with individuals of all ages and with a variety of conditions, including: psychiatric disorders, medical problems, physical handicaps, sensory impairments, developmental disabilities, substance abuse, communication disorders, interpersonal problems, and aging. It is also used to: improve learning, build self-esteem, reduce stress, support physical exercise, and facilitate a host of other health-related activities.
Music therapists are found in nearly every area of the helping professions. Some commonly found practices include developmental work (communication, motor skills, etc.) with individuals with special needs, songwriting and listening in reminiscence/orientation work with the elderly, processing and relaxation work, and rhythmic entrainment for physical rehabilitation in stroke victims.
Dance therapy, or dance movement therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance for emotional, cognitive, social, behavioural and physical conditions. Dance movement therapy strengthens the body/mind connection through body movements to improve both the mental and physical well-being of individuals. As a form of expressive therapy, DMT is founded on the basis that movement and emotion are directly related. The ultimate purpose of DMT is to find a healthy balance and sense of wholeness.
Since its birth in the 1940s, DMT has gained much popularity and has been taken to more serious and beneficial levels. Over the years, the practices of DMT have progressed, however, the main principles that founded this form of therapy have remained the same. Influenced by the “main principles” of this therapy, most DMT sessions are configured around four main stages: preparation, incubation, illumination, and evaluation. Organizations such as the American Dance Therapy Association and the Association for Dance Movement Therapy,
Although dance has been a method of expression for centuries, it wasn’t until just recently that it was characterized as a form of therapy. The development of DMT can be split into two waves throughout history. Long before the first wave of DMT in America (1940’s), the UK developed the idea of dance therapy. The first records of dance being used as a form of therapy date as far back as the nineteenth century in the UK. Although there were significant American influences, the main theories of dance therapy originated in the UK .
The theory of DMT is based upon the idea that “the body and mind are inseparable”.
“Dance movement therapy rests on certain theoretical principles. These are:
- Body and mind interact, so that a change in movement will affect total functioning
- Movement reflects personality
- The therapeutic relationship is mediated at least to some extent non-verbally, for
example through the therapist mirroring the client’s movement
- Movement contains a symbolic function and as such can be evidence of unconscious process
- Movement improvisation allows the client to experiment with new ways of being
- DMT allows for the recapitulation of early object relationships by virtue of the largely non-verbal mediation of the latter”
Through the unity of the body, mind, and spirit, DMT provides a sense of wholeness to all individuals.
Dramatherapy (often written drama therapy in the
) is the use of theatre techniques to facilitate personal growth and promote health. Dramatherapy is used in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, mental health centers, prisons, and businesses. Dramatherapy exists in many forms and can be applicable to individuals, couples, families, and various groups. United States
History of Dramatherapy
The modern use of dramatic process and theatre as a therapeutic intervention began with Psychodrama. The field has expanded to allow many forms of theatrical interventions as therapy including role-play, theater game, group-dynamic games, mime, puppetry, and other improvisational techniques. Often, drama therapy is utilized to help a client:
- Solve a problem
- Achieve a catharsis
- Delve into truths about self
- Understand the meaning of personally resonant images
- Explore and transcend unhealthy patterns of interaction
The application of dramatherapy is extremely varied, based on the practitioner, the setting and the client. From fully-fledged performances among a troupe of actors to individual empty chair role-play, sessions may involve many variables.
Phil Jones has written in his book "Drama as Therapy, Theatre as Living" that there are 9 core processes at the heart of dramatherapy. These include projective identification and dramatic distancing. Projective identification is the process whereby a person identifies with a character in a story. Dramatic distancing refers to the way that emotional and psychological problems can be accessed easier through metaphor. the client has a distanced relationship through metaphor to these problems that makes them easier to tolerate.
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