Art, Music, Drama and Dance Therapists have long
been used for healing throughout time. The field of Expressive Arts Therapy is
a growing field of practice used by many healing professionals from nurses,
doctors, psychotherapist, occupational therapist and rehabilitation
specialists. The Expressive Arts Therapy is the of use of the arts for healing
and self enhancement. Expressive Arts Therapy
includes: Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Dance/Movement Therapy and Drama Therapy,
Creative Writing and Journaling. The Expressive Arts that are used for stress
reduction, relaxation, relieving chronic pain, brain injury rehabilitation,
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and trauma. It is also used with adults as well as
children. With adults, Expressive Arts
is used to help relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental
illnesses. The arts are also used with
such populations as alcohol and drug rehabilitation, and the homeless
Children gain great benefits
from the use of art for dealing with trauma from abuse, social trauma, and trauma from natural disasters. They also benefit from the arts for therapy with regards to learning disorders,
behavioral issues, as well as special needs children and children on the Autism
Spectrum healing and much more.
Expressive Arts are also used with geriatric
for working with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease to name a few. The treatment options go on and on. The
Expressive Arts are known as the NON-verbal therapies, and can access deeper
levels of a person’s psychological awareness than your commonly known talk
therapies. The arts, movement and music help bring the elderly together and helps to increase their socialization, relieve depression, insomnia and even pain.
Our Veterans who return home from long
being away from their families, and have faced the trauma and devastation of
war often suffer with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The use of art, mask making, painting, music,
storytelling are all powerful modalities for treating and healing their
trauma as well as using these modalities with their families to help them reintegrate back into their family and community.
Natural disasters victims are another population who gain great healing benefits from the expressive arts. When people experience a natural disaster such
as hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other such natural devistations, they also suffer with PTSD, grief and loss and depression. Trained expressive arts therapists can use art, music, psychodrama to help
relieve the stress and pressure of the traumatic event, and give the sufferers
a way to express their disastrous event when they can not find the words.
Let’s not forget that creativity in all
of its forms in addition to helping with emotional distress, can also help to reduce stress, enhance creative thinking and problem
solving, heal and regenerate the body/mind/spirit. The arts can help us to
discover our goals and envision them materializing in our world. The arts can be used to release past pain,
and heal those places where the pain once resided allowing for emotional and
psychological healing to occur.
Other areas where Expressive Arts are
used are in the corporate world as well as for world healing and peace. Corporations will hire an Expressive Arts
Therapist to enhance employee assistance programs. With the use of Expressive Arts, a company
can help their employees be more productive on the job. Learn better communication skills and
leadership skills, through fun and enjoyable exercises.
Additionally, Expressive Arts can be brought into the global arena where it can be used to bring together communities and create a space and avenue for global healing. In
2007, the International Criminal Court accepted 500 children’s drawings depicting the conﬂict in Darfur as contextual evidence for war crime trials against Sudanese ofﬁcials. The children's drawings used as evidence of the “truthfulness” of conﬂict.
In November 2007, it was announced that 500 children’s drawings, depicting thevconﬂict in Darfur and collected as evidence by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the war trials indicated that the drawings would be used in the case against the Sudanese President, Umar Hassan Al Bashir, after the ICC issued anarrest warrant against him on charges of crimes against humanity and warcrimes. In 2010, a further arrest warrant was issued for Al-Bashir under the accusation of genocide. All because of the drawing of children who were victims of inhuman acts. This example shows how art can be used on a global level for justice and healing.
The San Diego University for
Integrative Studies trains Expressive Arts Therapists with a Certification, a Master’s
Degree or a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with special in Expressive Arts
Therapy. This involves training
psychology along with additional training in Art Therapy, Music Therapy,
Dance/Movement Therapy, Psychodrama and Writing/Myth & Folklore. An
Expressive Arts often uses the arts with their clients in a multitude of environments
such as private practice, groups therapy, hospitals, and other treatment
facilities and on site trauma environments where there are people suffering with disasters.
field of Expressive Arts Therapy is a growing field, and the social awareness
is growing as well. There is a need to
get this information out to those who may be interested in working in this
powerful, creative and fulfilling field.
Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the San Diego University for Integrative Studies at www.sduis.edu, (619) 297-1999.
Yvette Lyons, Ph.D.