What is Expressive Arts Therapy?

“When art and psychotherapy are joined, the scope and depth of each can be expanded, and when working together, they are tied to the continuities of humanity’s history of healing.”  ~Shaun McNiff, The Arts and Psychotherapy

Expressive Arts Therapy is a discipline of helping and healing that uses the arts as its basis for discovery and change. Five disciplines of the arts are available for use: visual, dance/movement, music, drama/theater, and writing/poetry. Each of these modalities can give you a richer vocabulary to work, play and grow a life you love living.

You do not need to be an artist, processes are simple and no previous art background is needed. Simple low skill art making in these different areas help open the senses and access our imagination so we can find our own resources that we hold within ourselves and that our art brings to us; it is the process, not the product that matters.

The arts have been an integral part of life for humans throughout history. We painted caves and painted our faces and bodies. We danced around the fire singing and playing drums and flutes. We gathered, told stories of our day, of our ancestors, of our dreams through words or actions. Shamans used the arts to heal their communities through the use of dreams, singing, dancing and stories. Spiritual pursuits throughout history used song, dance and visual arts as community activities. It has been only in recent times that we as humans have become so separate from art, we began looking at art as something that is separate from ourselves rather than coming from us. Expressive Arts Therapy offers a safe place to reconnect to our art making while also helping to move emotions oftentimes allowing for necessary distance.

What is Expressive Arts Therapy? ⋆ Jill Becker, MD., MA., LLC.