The Expressive Arts Experience - Yvette Lyons, Ph.D., Expressive Arts Therapist

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Dance Movement Therapy and Artistic Expression For Healing

Dance/Movement Therapy and Artistic Expression for healing
What does dance and moving our body have to do with art? The answer is EVERYTHING!  Have you ever put on upbeat music, and try to keep your body still?  Impossible, isn’t it?  Music moves through us and our bodies cannot help but move to the rhythm and beat.  As the music plays it moves our bodies, our emotions and that moves our energy.  As the energy moves, we begin to release and transform trapped or blocked emotions and memories.  Our bodies are the memory bank for our emotions and our experiences.  The body remembers what the mind forgets.  Therefore, our bodies become a storage facility, storing up all of those experiences.  Over time, this begins to wear on our ability to tolerate; it taxes our emotions and our inner stability and peace.  
Expressive movement can help to move conscious and unconscious stored memories and feelings.  Through movement, we can tell the stories that we have forgotten, but still lurk deep within until triggered by something in our daily life.  It is impossible to hold onto blocked emotions when you are moving.  This is why some people begin to weep during a yoga class or have a good cry after a run. 
There is interplay between our bodies, emotions and thinking.  Movement can bring up emotions as well as visual memories.  As we move our bodies, we remember things and feelings that have been blocking us.
Art is another way in which to move energy.  We can express things in color and form that may be unconscious or preverbal.  In this way, images seem to magically appear in our artwork.  But it is not magic; it is the power of movement and art to bring in to our conscious awareness things that have been hidden from our awareness.  Sometimes our art will also bring up things that may be preconscious.  Something that may be suspended in our awareness, but not quite emerged in our consciousness.
Therefore, through the act of movement and art expression, (whether it be painting, drawing, singing, music making and creative writing), we are able to bring forth what is hidden and expressive it through a moving story or a painting in color and form. 
Movement and dance can also help unblock your creative flow.  By dancing and moving before or during an art experience, it can free up our art and creativity allowing the creative flow to move freely expressing itself through us.
I recently had a tense interaction with someone in my daily world.  I returned home and feeling frustrated, I put on music and began to paint.  I wanted to use colors that expressed my feelings of frustration I wanted my art to release my tension.  I moved to the music as I painted, choosing colors that I FELT reflected how I was feeling.  I am always amazed at this process, no matter now long I do it.  The more I danced, and the more I painted, the more I can feel those stressful and tense feelings leave my body.  Eventually, my art began to reflect a more calm and resolved me. 
Through the act of movement and art, we are able to resolve conflict and deal with life in a newer more productive and positive way.
Another way to use movement and art is to just begin to move.  Allow the movement to move you.  Allow your body to begin to tell a story.  While you are engaged in the movement process, choose some art materials, and allow the movement of your body dictates the movement of your colors and your shapes.  The more you move your body, and more movement will be in your art.  This is a wonderful way to move through creative blocks.
So, the next time you are feeling stresses, or blocked in life or your creativity or your life, put on some music and dance, take out some art supplies and just begin to allow the energy and color to move you and move through you.  No preconceived plans are necessary, just move for the purpose of self expression.
Expressive Arts Therapy is the joining of music, movement, art, drama and creative writing for the purpose of healing and self-discovery.  Join me in the Winter quarter 2016 at the San Diego University for Integrative Studies (SDUIS), for Fundamentals of Movement Therapy class where we will explore Daria Halprin’s ‘The Expressive Body in Life, Art and Therapy’;  movement, poetic dialog and art.  Beginning Jan. 10, 2016. Contact me at 619-297-1999
SDUIS offers a Certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy, A Master's Degree in Expressive Arts Therapy and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a Specialty in Expressive Arts Therapy.  Visit for details and a list of courses. 

Yvette Lyons, Ph.D. 
Director of Expressive Arts Therapy Dept. 

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