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What is Expressive Arts Therapy?

Posted by earthygirl81 on January 24, 2019 at 3:45 PM

What is Expressive Arts Therapy?


My hope for this blog entry is to provide you with an understanding on my personal perspective on Expressive Arts and my approach use of it in office.


The American Art Therapy Association beautifully states, “Through integrative methods, art therapy engages the mind, body, and spirit in ways that are distinct from verbal articulation alone. Kinesthetic, sensory, perceptual, and symbolic opportunities invite alternative modes of receptive and expressive communication, which can circumvent the limitations of language. Visual and symbolic expression gives voice to experience and empowers individual, communal, and societal transformation.”


As a licensed Art Therapist I find art making taps into the unconscious mind and allows for free expression of worries, anxieties, fears, anger, and other emotions. This allows the energy to shift, move, and to be processed through the body. This process is often non-verbal allowing for the mind to stop blocking the healing process. Sometimes when words are not enough to express what we are experiencing, dance & art helps.


Let’s talk Brain Health for a minute. The Right-Side of the brain has functions of~ creativity, music awareness, abstract thinking, intuitive, imagination, spatial & visual learning/awareness, emotions, big picture/holistic, random sequencing and it controls the left side of the body. On the other hand, the Left-Side of the brain’s functions are~ logic, language, verbal, detail oriented, ordered sequencing, mathematical skills, time awareness, literal, detached, and it controls right side of the body.


Both of these sides are equally important for us to function at our maximum ability, however, an imbalance I offend see is Left-Side prodomient, meaning the person is detached from their creativity, emotions,and expression. Ideally we want balance between these hemispheres and firing of neurons equally on both sides of the brain.


The body holds the trauma as traumas and emotions can become trapped into the physical body causing several issues. Some issues are irritability, frustration, uncontrollable crying, lack of ability to express/understand what you are experiencing, insomnia, and somatic symptoms. This is the connection between the Mind & Body.


Expressive arts allows for this energy to move through creating healing and increased awareness. This taps into the Right Side of Brain allow for us to access our emotions and creativity for healthy expression. Most expressive art activities require us to utilize the Left-Side of the brain as well to problem solve and plan. Dance is my favorite form of expressive arts that I use in the office. This requires us to use both sides of the brain and body to do and ideal for mind-body connection expression.


Let me step over into the land of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help you understand this from an energetic perspective as well. TCM talks about one pattern specifically that can create feelings of depression, irritability, feeling stuck, frustrations, and so on. This is called Stagnation of Qi (Liver Qi Stagnation). Qi is our lifeforce/energy in our bodies, often called prana in Ayurveda traditions. When these energies get stagnated it is like a traffic jam leaving feelings of frustration, annoyance, physical pain, and a stuck- hopeless feeling in our bodies.


This sounds a lot like an imbalance on the Right-side of brain here with the Left-Side being prodiment! One of the recommendations for someone with Liver Qi Stagnation I would provide as an Herbalist/TCM practitioner would be to do creative activities to move the Stagnated energy Qi in the body and to express what is not being expressed and held in the body. This would of course increase activity on the Right-Side of the brain.


In my office, I go beyond verbal/language expression and use Expressive Arts to help people to tap into their own subconscious and healing through- dance, movement, art, play, building, creating, pure expression, sensory activities, & etc. This helps to move the energy in body, express emotions in a healthy way, teach positive coping skills/ tools, and to increase mindfulness. Its not about painting a ‘pretty picture’, its about understanding and expressing ourselves on a deeper level in order to heal.


Go here to learn me about my trainings~https://www.phoenixrisingwellness.net/about

Go here to learn more about Art Therapy~ https://arttherapy.org/about-art-therapy/



Categories: Mental Health Wellness, Creativity & Expression, Body Mind Connection

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