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Beyond The Coloring Book: Expressive Arts Therapy

Have you noticed the latest increase in adult coloring books in stores lately? On the one hand it's wonderful that more people are acknowledging the emotional benefits of creativity. On the other hand, coloring books are a very limited healing tool. Either way, it invites an explanation about the value of creative self-expression within the guidance of a professional therapeutic relationship.

Expressive Arts Therapy follows two main methodologies. The first is making art for the expression of emotions and difficult life experiences. The second is making art as an escape or distraction from reality and an entryway into the world of imagination.

The first way of working allows the client to express his or her thoughts, feelings and experiences through color, shape, movement, poetry, story-telling and sound. From these experiences, the client can gain clarity, awareness and a deeper understanding about themselves, their needs, relationships and the problems they face. Both the artwork and the creative process can hold meaningful insights and solutions that the client is searching for.

The second method of working is creative expression as a temporary escape into the imagination and playfulness with the materials. The client experiences an imaginary world and suspends his or her problems for a while. Many clients find a sense of freedom, spontaneity and relief when working with the imagination. A change in perspective or mood can often accompany the client's return to reality.

Both methods of working are valuable and the guidance of a trained Expressive Arts Therapist is key. More on the therapeutic relationship in another blog. I welcome your questions and thoughts by phone or email.

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