Author Cathy Malchiodi, experienced professional of art therapy, expressive therapy, and counseling, stated in her book titled, “Expressive Therapies”,
“Expressive therapies offer unique ways to enhance communication as well as fresh directions for therapeutic work for both the client and therapist…they have several specific characteristics not always found in strictly verbal therapies, including, but not limited to: 1) self-expression, 2) active participation, 3) imagination, and 4) mind-body connections.”
If you’ve ever created something by painting, drawing, playing an instrument or something similar, you’ve taken part in a component of expressive therapy. However, expressive therapy is not simply doing one of these activities – it involves engaging in a creative activity to express oneself and learn more about oneself and others, typically through the direction of a therapist.
Expressive therapies didn’t become popular until the 1930s and 1940s, when psychotherapists and artists learned that these modalities could help those with mental illness. According to the California Institute of Integral Studies, psychologists utilize expressive therapy to help promote clients with their self-awareness, emotional well-being, healing, and self-esteem. In therapy, you need not worry about the end result of your creative project. In fact, you most often will be asked to draw or create something that represents what you are going through. Your therapist will not be judging your artwork, and you will be able to engage in conversation about what your project means to you and how you view the situations that are occurring in your life.
Consider expressive therapy as an extension of your feelings and thoughts. You may not know what you will create until you are the process of creating; expressive therapy has been shown to help people who have difficulty talking about the way they feel.
A 2010 review published in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association identified numerous studies that assessed expressive therapy and their correlated benefits for participants in each study. The results of these studies further confirmed that expressive therapy has been reported to help reduce stress, reduce cognitive distortions, enhance coping mechanisms, provide a safe place to explore feelings and grief, show positive change and growth, improve behavioral functioning and mood, and more. Speak with a representative at a reputable treatment center today to learn more about how expressive therapy could be of benefit to your recovery.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.