Expressive Arts Therapy

What Is Expressive Arts Therapy?

Expressive Arts Therapy has many benefits and you do not need to have a “problem” to benefit. Everyone deserves to be seen, heard and supported. Having someone to talk to is important.  

Anyone can benefit from expressive arts therapy. There is no right or wrong way to create. You do not need to make anything (some sessions are more verbal processing/talking and for some clients this is a primary way of working). You do not need to be an creative or an artist to benefit or participate in an expressive arts therapy session.

Expressive Arts Therapy (EXA) encourages the encounter of new learning and opportunities through the use of the arts.

This takes place in a process based and supportive environment. An environment free from judgment, ideas about talent or the meaning of what is discovered. Expressive arts therapy bridges the gap between the conscious and the unconscious mind. It can bring light to areas of therapy that are blocked, inhibited, and stuck, as well as bringing greater understanding and focus to those areas of concern. 

No particular background, skill or ability is needed to experience the benefits of Expressive Arts Therapy.

Sometimes the arts process calls for paint, use of clay or markers and other times invites us to explore simple movement making, a gesture or a sound. Words are also used throughout the work and upon reflection they may take the form of storytelling or poetic expression. 

Expressive Arts Therapy can bring light to areas of therapy that are blocked, inhibited, and stuck, as well as bringing greater focus to those areas of concern.

Expressive Arts Therapy can be used with individuals of all ages and can be used as a stand alone approach or concurrent to other therapeutic approaches.

Book a FREE 20 Minute Consultation in which we will discuss your therapeutic goal(s) and book your first session. 

I look forward to meeting you!

Expressive Arts Therapy - Frequenty Asked Questions

What happens in an EXPRESSIVE ARTS THERAPY session?

The focus of the work is to allow a direct experience through art making. However, it also provides a microcosmic look at the basic life patterns, attitudes and beliefs that bind our lives. Some clients choose not use the materials and use the time to work verbally (talking). The ways in which we work are client led.

During a session the participant is encouraged to reflect in a mindful way and to use the arts to develop and explore the basic themes. These are either brought to a session or discovered in the process of the arts encounter. Artistic choices, thoughts, feelings and emotions that are shared during a session are an important part of the experience. I will meet these with respect and sensitivity. They are understood through the lens of collaborative exploration, rather than through any kind of interpretation or analysis.

What effect does EXPRESSIVE ARTS THERAPY have?

Using the arts in such a way provides a gateway to new thresholds. The participant is able to experiment, shape and open to the surprises that come with the movement into territory that was previously unknown. This opening can provide profound recognition and clarification. Trusting the process can provide safety, invite surprises, while allowing the art to begin to reveal new insights. These insights can be applied significantly to alter awareness in everyday life. It is an experience of tremendous empowerment.

Do I have to be an ARTIST to participate in an EXPRESSIVE ARTS THERAPY SESSION?

There are so many ways to be creative and express ourselves. As humans we access creativity through a variety of ways and some examples are; how we dress, the way we cook meals, the way we organize our spaces or how we create systems and routines in our lives. You do not need to be seasoned with any art form to participate in a session with me. During our session, instead of focusing on skills, we will notice what materials or art modalities you are attracted to by following the innate wisdom of the body. We will then move into an art making process that is somatically led by your senses, curiosity, and imagination. 

What is the difference between EXPRESSIVE ARTS THERAPY and Art Therapy?

The difference between expressive arts therapy and art therapy is that expressive arts therapy has an intermodal approach, while art therapy tends to be focused on one particular art form.

What ART MODALITIES (forms) are naturally drawn to?

It can be supportive for clients to begin working with art modalities that are familiar and of natural interest to them. Throughout the session I will work alongside you to foster your own innate guidance and follow curiosities. Within the therapeutic space we will look for ways to expand your capacity for the unknown and uncover new self discoveries, deepen self confidence and gain possible insights to previous blocks. Starting from what we know allows us to feel safe as we move into new territories through creative invitations. 

What does "intermodal" mean in the context of expressive arts therapy?

Intermodality is a nourishing part of expressive arts therapy’s methodology where we are open to moving from one art form to another in the same session. An example of this could look like, you drawing a picture and I may offer a creative prompt which invites you to respond to the drawing with some reflective writing or a gesture. This intermodal transition may deepen the creative experience and expand the insights available. 

Will I be taught artistic skills in an EXPRESSIVE ARTS THERAPY session?

I am a practitioner who strongly believes in the power of self expression as the driving force behind personal growth, transformation and healing. Rather than focussing on enhancing your artistic skills or looking at how you could do better, we will foster a nurturing space where you are comfortable to be who you are in your most present and honest form. We will practice how to deeply listen, notice and attentively respond to the sensations that arise within you and around you. In expressive arts therapy, it can be mentally distracting and even debilitating when the fixation is on a specific goal or desirable product. I like to create a culture where your presence and imagination dictates how you tend to your fire of curiosity. This approach will expand your range of play while encouraging you to go deeper in your self exploration.

What can I expect and how can I prepare for an online EXPRESSIVE ARTS THERAPY session?

For remote sessions I recommend that you have somewhere comfortable to sit, if possible a room where you can be alone for reducing surrounding distraction and sound, as well as to give yourself some privacy. Moving furniture if desired, so that your body might have space to move. It can be helpful in shared spaces to have a headset/earbuds with a microphone that can connect to your device. This would allow some of the potential surrounding sound to be buffered (less distractions) and voice volume to be regulated within the session, as well as some privacy for yourself. At the beginning of our first session we will take some time initially to discuss your space, materials you have available, and art forms that have your interest to get a sense of you and your environment.  

What about supplies?

There is no need to go out and buy anything special or specific, rather look around your home space first and consider what you might already have that could be used for a remote session. Perhaps a pencil, scrap of paper, pieces of nature, colored yarn, some appreciated photographs … what else? You might be surprised. Allow yourself to collect items you are drawn to use for the session. Expressive arts therapy is not dependent on access materials. We can work with whatever supplies are at hand. Nature itself is a beautiful reminder of this, the way we arrange rocks can be powerful as can coloured lines on a page.  Expressive Art Therapy is process based not product based approach. Although the supplies are tools that we use, the therapeutic relationship is the most important part of any session.

Am I able to book an ONLINE SESSION?

Yes I do offer online EXPRESSIVE ARTS THERAPY SESSIONS which can be beneficial for people who do not live within the region I do, those who are unable to travel, have a limited schedule or would prefer being in the comfort of their own home. 

Am I able to book an IN PERSON SESSION?

I have a cozy home based studio space in which I support clients. If you are a local to Vancouver Island BC, I am located specifically in Nanaimo, BC and see clients from all over the island. Within the studio space I offer sanitizer upon arriving, masks (if needed) and have a variety of arts materials to use within the session. The space is kept clean and sanitized between clients to meet current COVID-19 protocols. 

Therapeutic Counselling for Teens and Adults

Expressive Arts Therapy is an approach used with people of all ages and is a counselling method that combines psychology with various art modalities (visual art, sound, clay, movement, poetry, etc) to cultivate emotional health and well-being.

I specialize in Expressive Arts Therapy to build bridges of accessibility and support individuals in discovering new perspectives through arts materials and creative processes. Not everyone has the ability to verbally articulate what is going on for them. This is where I step in and present a platform for others to express and explore what is present for them through artistic processes.

Sometimes the process calls for paint, clay or markers and other times it’s inviting simple movement making, a gesture or a sound. Words are also used throughout the work and upon reflection they may take the form of storytelling or poetic expression. Expressive Arts Therapy (EXA) can be used with individuals of all ages and can be used as a stand alone approach or concurrent to other therapeutic approaches.

We will take creative risks to explore self awareness and face personal challenges which may also lead to moments of surprise, elements of curiosity, and enriching self discoveries.

Session Rate: $120/hr (plus GST) : In person and remote sessions available  (1-2 hour sessions available)

Sliding Scale Payment options are available. Please inquire to find out more. 

Expressive Arts & Play based Therapy for Children 

Expressive Arts and Play based Therapy is generally used with children between 3-10 years of age.

Using a resource focused and client centered approach, children are supported in finding self expression and discovering inner resources. Play is the natural language and form of communication for children, just like talking is for adults. Play is the natural way that children learn about themselves, their relationships in the world around them and finding ways to resolve problems.

The use of arts based and play in therapy is an effective way of helping children who are experiencing a wide range of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems. Expressive Arts and Play based Therapy makes use of the natural benefits of play, allows children to express their true thoughts, feelings and perceptions at a safe psychological distance from their problems and accounts for developmental levels. 

The use of art, puppets, dolls, games, books and other toys are used to support expression. Children use these items to tell stories, express themselves and transfer the difficult emotions or situations to scenes, pictures, symbols or active play. This arts and play based approach allows insight into the child’s emotional state.

Through art and play based therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others.

For children, emotions are often difficult to understand as well as express and Expressive Arts and Play based Therapy offers a natural, comfortable way for children to express themselves. Even children who are quite talkative can express themselves more fully through play.

Session Rate: $120/hr (plus GST) : In person sessions available  (maximum 1 hour session)

Sliding Scale Payment options are available. Please inquire to find out more.