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How can expressive arts be utilized in therapy?

I love to share about some of ways that we can use expressive arts as a therapeutic technique. Each person and session is unique and developing a way to incorporate expressive arts into the therapy is collaborative and client centred. When we move into the creative process, we are shifting out of our usual mode of thought and into a different mental space that is similar to meditative practices. Pairing mindfulness meditation and expressive arts practices together is one of the many ways expressive arts can be used. We are looking to cultivate a sense of presence in the creative process.


Finding the forms of self expression that we gravitate towards such as writing, moving our body, singing or drawing are resources that assist us to come in contact with our present moment. With intention we work to foster self compassion, curiosity and trust in our process. This provides the opportunity to observe ourself - the sensations, emotions and mental processes that are showing up in that moment. We can offer acceptance and acknowledgement as a simple form of self love and a way to regulation our nervous system.


We can work intentionally, by exploring particular themes, parts of ourselves where we are seeking understanding, examining patterns or traumas in our life through the expressive work. We can work from a non-directional approach, letting the art materials guide the process while cultivating a playful and curious attitude.


In transpersonal approaches to expressive arts, we are exploring meaning in the work that we create and how it might relate to our current circumstances. This might involve very simplistic drawing with lines, shapes and colors. Letting images and ideas emerge from the psyche. This process can offer new perspectives, connect us with values and can have a numinous quality. We can explore a relationship with the art work by asking it questions, listening for messages and we can sit in meditation with the art work. Carl Jung worked with art therapy techniques that he termed the Active Imagination.


There is so much more on this topic to explore!


Take a moment to think about your imagination. How it has worked in your life? Have you been encouraged or discouraged to use your imagination? When has it been a helpful tool to bring some new idea or offer inspiration?






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