Expressive Art therapy is a form of expression that gives a voice to something that is unspoken. The focus is not on the artwork itself, but rather on the personal meaning of the symbols or images that are chosen, and what they “say” about our inner feelings or thoughts. Making art, whether through collage, drawing, painting or an art journal, often enables us to surface parts about ourselves through spontaneous expression that is not always as available with words or speech.
Claiming those parts of ourselves we don’t like, want to avoid or find painful, enables us to work through our deepest personal issues. Expressive Arts uses a symbolic language in a pleasurable process of identifying, accepting, owning, and integrating those parts of ourselves. When we learn to embrace these parts with curiosity, and accept them with resilience, we can find our strengths to access greater self-acceptance.
My work with clients dealing with issues such as emotional eating or daily stress is to not “cure” or “fix” them, but rather to help clients to flourish. In my practice, I help each client objectify their situation and think from an alternative point of view. This requires looking at daily routines in new ways, to help us break free from the immediacy of personal circumstances, and place things in a wider framework. The symbolic images can help a client to discuss and reconcile their inner conflicts to gain a new perspective.
Numerous studies have influenced and shaped my belief that it is possible to have an accepting attitude towards ourselves, including our feelings of intense joy, deepest sorrow, or intense anger, when we allow ourselves to feel everything inside with dignity and self-caring. Celebrating and valuing our lives and others is an important ingredient to include in our next “meal.”