Expressive therapy is a form of therapy that uses creative arts as a tool for healing. It’s also called “Creative Arts Therapy” or “Expressive Art Therapy.” Many different forms of creative arts can be used as a method of healing from trauma or emotional pain, or as a method of adapting to disability or chronic illness. In this form of therapy, the act of creating is more important than the finished product.
Through a variety of different modes of creative expression, you can get in touch with your emotions and explore your thoughts or feelings. You may be able to communicate painful emotions and memories through creation, and you may find that getting involved in expressive therapy can challenge and inspire you. Creativity can help you to stop dwelling on your present circumstances while working through feelings about things that may have happened in the past. If current treatment approaches aren’t working, consider one of the many forms of expressive art therapy available.
Expressive Therapy Through Art
There are many ways to attain creative expression through art. You can communicate your emotions or experiences through drawing, painting, sculpting or crafts. Part of the value of this type of therapy is that you can become completely immersed in the process of creating works of art. It can also be healing to study works created by other artists and share your reactions and feelings about these works with your expressive arts therapist or with others in a group setting.
Music can stir deep emotions. It can help to boost negative moods or release deep-seated painful feelings. By listening to music, playing a musical instrument, singing or moving to music, you can express what you are thinking or feeling. When used in a group setting, making music or listening to music together can lead to a sense of being connected to others.
Another way to use music as a form of expressive therapy is through dance therapy. There are many forms of dance used in this type of therapy, such as improvised or choreographed dancing. It can sometimes be easier to delve into your feelings and express them physically through dance movements than verbally. The mind-body connection of dance can make this an effective form of treatment for eating disorders, addiction or chronic pain.
Other Forms of Expressive Therapy
There are several other forms of expressive therapy. If you find that writing is a good way to process your emotions, you may benefit from journaling or writing poetry. By creating stories or poems, you may be able to resolve your internal conflicts through the experiences you create for your fictional characters. In working with a therapist, you might read creative writing done by others and discuss it in a group setting. Drama therapy is a way to act out experiences through role-playing, while cinema therapy involves watching movies in a group setting and discussing them to gain insights.
Expressive therapy allows individuals to gain greater self-awareness and to heal from trauma, abuse, disabilities or illnesses. It can be beneficial in a different way than talk therapy and can help you to communicate when talking is difficult, or when you are having trouble getting in touch with your feelings. Using one of the many forms of expressive therapy is a great way to heal by using your creativity and imagination.
University of New Hampshire: What is Expressive Arts Therapy?