Expressive Arts and Play Therapy

Art Therapy 2

Expressive Arts focuses on the integration and union of the self with emphasis on the creative process. It can be particularly helpful to people who either find it hard to express their thoughts and feelings verbally or who have a tendency to intellectualise. Its primary purpose is for the client to get in touch with their unconscious mind and creative energy.

Creativity is a right-brained activity, and this part of the mind communicates in images and symbols. The process of creating an art piece followed by reflecting can lead to greater personal insights and self-awareness. If there are hidden blocks or obstacles in the psyche, then these often manifest in the art created and healing can begin to take place.

Expressive Arts Therapy is a multi-modal approach to therapy and can include art, clay, collage, drawing, journaling, painting, sand tray, sound, and any other activity which engages the person's creativity.

The flexibility and range of the expressive art therapy approach means it can be offered as a short-term or more of a long-term therapeutic experience, depending on individual requirements.


Integrative Sand and Play Therapy

Sand Therapy 1

Integrative Sand Therapy is for all ages. Children love it and adults are amazed by its profound ability to get to the core of an issue and make meaning.

Sand play is a highly engaging form of therapy that can provide emotional release. Using the sand tray and chosen miniatures clients create worlds that represent their own intrinsic worlds. By creating sand worlds there is little need for a verbal explanation of feelings nor a need to verbally explain emotions, and bodily sensations, rather there is a felt sense between body and mind.

Play is a child's natural way of communicating. Through play, children learn to regulate emotions, reduce anxiety, explore feelings and promote problem-solving and self-esteem. Play provides a child with a means through which they can develop, grow and learn about themselves and the relationships in their lives.

Many children are unable to verbalize emotional states, particularly in the face of trauma.   The nonverbal nature of sand play therapy and the familiar medium of sand can help children achieve feelings of comfort and security. With little instruction from the therapist, the child is free to play and develop their own expression of situations. Often, the children will experience a sense of independent play and begin making assumptions and behavior changes without cues from the therapist. This method of therapy can serve as a valuable and powerful outlet for children and an incredibly insightful method of gaining access to traumatic experiences.

Play Therapy is a way of working with children to help them make sense of their experiences, feelings, and behaviors. Most adults who attend therapy participate in traditional talking therapy. As children's brains are still growing and their language is developing, talking therapy can be problematic as they don't have the ability to articulate and discuss problems or concerns that may be bothering them.


Art Therapy 1

Therapeutically, clay can be formed into physical manifestations of self, or of fears or anxieties. The completed clay piece is not as important as the opportunity to process ideas from the creative inner world into the clay.

In an adult workshop I held, I asked the group to work with the clay with their eyes closed if they were comfortable doing so. As they sat playing with the clay and free from the anxiety of watching what the other group members were doing, I asked them to just be present and notice any felt senses in their body.

The feedback from this group was powerful. This simple activity had given them an opportunity to check in with themselves. To regulate. To relax. To be present in the moment.

Not only is working with clay an experience for the hands it also promotes expression of mood and offers the client the opportunity of working three-dimensionally, seeing things from more than one perspective.