Expressive Arts Therapy
While most psychotherapy begins with talking and words, the person engaging in the process can soon begin to get in touch with an inner world that is more complex than just verbal language--this internal world may include words, but also imagery, metaphor, memory, symbolism, body sensations and deep emotion. Once a person begins to tap into these inner experiences, talking alone is often not enough to understand, process or contain the entire experience. Words may even become barriers to issues that contain unconscious information or have their source in early pre-verbal memories.
The primary modality I use is talk therapy--especially when I first begin working with someone--
unless the client specifically requests to engage primarily in experiential methods.
I typically utilize experiential methods such as Drama Therapy or Expressive Arts Therapy as additional tools to help clients deepen the work of a specific area of concern, block, or struggle.
See below for more specific information about Drama Therapy.
Some clients are intimidated by the idea of using arts in therapy, thinking they can't do it because they have no artistic talent. However I assure my clients that they need absolutely no experience or "talent" to use the arts in therapy. The focus is not on the product but rather the process of engaging in creativity itself, and expressing and exploring what is encountered in your inner world.
Whether drawing, viewing an image, moving the body, enacting a scene, or journaling, each modality is unique and, when combined with the relationship with the therapist, supports the focus of the creative imagination toward clarity. Clients typically find drama therapy and expressive arts therapy processes helpful in untangling complex and confusing internal experiences, and often have an "aha" moment when utilizing these methods. Clients I work with using experiential methods typically find using expressive arts to be revealing, life-affirming and healing, helping them to access their inherent creativity bringing energy and vitality to their life and continuing growth.
Drama therapy is the systematic and intentional use of dramatic and theatrical processes and products (such as performance) to achieve therapeutic goals.
Drama Therapy is exploratory, experiential, reflective and expressive.
It combines theater and psychotherapy to uncover and express feelings, reveal and resolve problematic beliefs, thought patterns, and emotional issues, and achieve catharsis as appropriate. Because drama therapy is both active and reflective, it helps people to access and integrate emotional, cognitive and physical levels of experience.
Drama therapy is adaptable, taking on many different forms depending on individual and group needs, and does not require participants to have any previous acting or theater experience. It can be used with groups, individuals, families and couples. It has been used in many settings and with different populations of people.
Drama therapy emphasizes creativity and spontaneity rather than illness and pathology.
Drama therapy is very useful for externalizing internal processes. For example: laying out scarves to identify all of the feelings a client is experiencing; placing chairs to identify the different internal voices that are weighing in on a particular issue--assigning a line to each "voice", and then creating a dialogue between them.
By taking what is internal and externalizing it we concretize it—we make it into something that no longer has a hold on us but that we can now hold and play with and look at from a distance. This gives a new perspective, greater understanding, and more of a sense of control.
Together we can choose the methods most comfortable and effective for your issues and individual style.