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What is Expressive Arts Therapy?


"It is your ability as a creative person to envision positive change that will make a difference."

- Patricia Johanson

Expressive arts therapy is an approach rooted in the direct engagement of the senses, imagination, intuition, and spontaneity, through which we can explore our inner lives.  

Through art and play modalities including (but absolutely not limited to) visual arts, sound, movement, storytelling, drama, and creative writing we can tap into inner, intuitive knowledge and find strengths and resources to navigate difficulty. 

Some Strengths and tenets of Expressive Arts:

  • A safe space: The art space creates a safe environment, de-centered from the immediate difficulty, to safely explore what emerges.

  • Trauma-informed: Because of its direct engagement with sensory work, expressive arts therapy gives us tools to regulate the nervous system, ground, embody, and reconnect with our present selves and surroundings in moments of crisis. The use of different modalities helps navigate potentially overwhelming emotions in new ways, and playing with imaginary spaces allows us to find different resources to explore and work with themes that may be too activating to approach directly.

  • Expanded language: Sometimes words are simply not enough to fully encompass or understand what is within. Expressive arts work helps us expand our vocabulary in realms that we don't necessarily use in our daily lives, but that can bring richness and depth that language alone might lack. 

  • Expansion and embodiment: Through free exploration and play, expressive arts support us in finding new edges and space for playfulness without judgment. The greater our sense of play and curiosity, the stronger our state of aliveness.  

Expressive Arts FAQ

Who is expressive arts therapy for? 


You do not need to be an artist or consider yourself to be "creative" to work with expressive arts. We are all expressive and creative by nature and our creativity and livelihood manifest in different ways. The versatility and fluid nature of the expressive arts work allow every one of us unique individuals to find resources that support our journey. 


"But I'm not a good artist" 

There is no "good" or "bad" in expressive arts. There is just the process, what emerges, and what we notice. And that is always perfect.

Expressive arts therapy focuses on low-skill, high-sensitivity practices. This means that the purpose of the creation is not about technical artistic value but solely about the experience. There is no focus on a product, the focus and value are in the art-making itself.  

Do I have to do art when I work with you?


Absolutely not!

Art is my medicine. It doesn't have to be yours. 

The art explorations I offer are just that: an offering. I will never push or force any activity that does not feel safe or comfortable. Though I may offer certain exercises as a tool to work with, you are always free (and encouraged) to say "no" if it doesn't resonate with you. 

Many clients benefit from play and art approaches, many others prefer more traditional talk therapy. This may even change session to session for each person.

My ultimate goal is to always be open and receptive to what you need in the given moment and to meet you where you are at. 

*A note on my expressive arts practice*

The philosophy behind expressive arts therapy is not a dogma or strict set of rules to follow. It simply provides tools that can be used to support inner processes.

Each practitioner combines these tools with their own set of skills and knowledge to create their own approach to the practice.

My practice is informed by my background in performing arts and writing, and it is heavily influenced by yogic philosophy, mindfulness-based approaches, spiritual philosophy, and traditional holistic healing practices. 

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