WHY ART AND EXPRESSIVE ARTS WORKS
WITH CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS
Expressive Arts Therapy is a new field that is quickly gaining National and International recognition for it’s effectiveness in working with a variety of population dealing with a multitude of issues. As a therapist trained in Marriage and Family Therapy, Clinical Psychology and Expressive Arts Therapy, I have extensive experience working with various populations. I have come to discover through my work, that I favor working with children and adolescents using Expressive Arts as my therapeutic modality.
Expressive Arts Therapy is the use of Art, Music, Dance & Movement, Storytelling, and Writing as therapeutic tools. As all experienced therapist, counselors, teachers know, children and adolescents sometimes have difficulty finding the words to express themselves. Sometimes the content of their message or the emotions that are associated with it is just too difficult for them to express. The Expressive Arts are considered the NON-verbal therapies. The act of creating, drawing, painting, coloring, or the use of musical instruments, drums, rattles etc. can help a child express those difficult to express thoughts and feelings. The Expressive Arts as a tool when working with children becomes a way of developing a trusting relationship with the child. The Expressive Arts can become a tool of actual communication as well as a way to help children build self esteem, develop problem solving strategies and build communication skills. It is very rewarding to work with children and watch them learn, develop and heal using tools that they actually love.
When working in the Foster System, I watched children and adolescents engage in avoidant behaviors to escape from having a therapeutic encounter with a therapist, social worker or counselor. However, I had my case load of children and teens seeking me out to do art and music and projects that helped them to express those things that were within them that they were struggling with. They actually look forward to meeting and engaging in an art-making project and talking about what arose. Additionally, simply the engagement in the expressive arts process is enough to help a child release, express and sublimate what they are dealing with in their lives.
The Expressive Arts works by accessing experiences that may be buried deep within. The use of color, image, music, lyrics, are cathartic in and of itself. Color expresses feelings, Images and even scribble can help release those built up feelings that may be contributing to maladaptive behavior. The use of drama therapy with groups of children and adolescents is a great tool to help build self esteem, communications skills and cooperative engagement. This is also a wonderful tool to help deal with issues of bullying, shyness, distractive behavior and aggressive play.
The use of art and expressive arts is a way to help children to redirector habitual reactivity or negative behaviors.
Certifications in Expressive Arts Therapy can increase a professional counselor and therapist tool base in using methods that are enjoyable and non-threatening to children.
Each year I give a professional six-day intensive seminar in the use of Expressive Arts Therapy in a therapeutic environment. I dedicate one day for each of the expressive arts; art therapy, music therapy, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy, storytelling and writing.
I have an upcoming Seminar in Expressive Arts Therapy, Sept. 15-20, 2014.
For more information about upcoming events or for a certification is expressive arts therapy please visit my web site at: www.yvettelyonsphd.com
I look forward to sharing the exciting world of expressive arts therapy with you.
Yvette Lyons, Ph.D., C.E.A.T.
Director of the Expressive Arts Therapy Dept.
San Diego University for Integrative Studies