Best Practices Paper: Expressive Arts Therapy
While traditional methods of talk therapy can be a great option for children who are experiencing mental health issues or disabilities, some children find it difficult to effectively express what they are experiencing in a formal clinical setting. The use of expressive/creative arts as a mode of therapy allows for a meaningful and more relatable exploration of the issues a child may be facing. Expressive art therapy is a therapeutic approach of incorporating art, with the goal of promoting growth and healing within an individual (Malchiodi, 2013). Expressive art therapy encompasses many creative art modalities:
Art therapy includes the use of art mediums to solve problems and allow the client to get in touch with their creative process. It usually involves the use of tools such as images, paint, clay, etc. in the session with therapists (Malchiodi, 2013). Music therapy is used as a way to promote beneficial changes in a person’s biopscyhosocial functioning. Music is used in sessions to help the client work out their issues, and express their thoughts and feelings without using their own words. (Malchiodi, 2013).
Drama therapy uses elements of theater and acting to allow the client to explore their problems through a script and act out how their issues affect their daily lives. Dance/movement therapy relies on the body and mind connection, and allows the client to use their movement as a way to promote emotional and psychological healing (Malchiodi, 2013). Poetry therapy uses poetry and other literary works to allow the client to explore the power of words and their use in personal development.
Play therapy is the use of various methods of play (i.e. toys, board games, etc.) to assess and resolve certain issues the client may be facing. Sand play, which is the use of toy figures and miniatures in a sandbox, also allows for that play exploration of issues from a client’s perspective. Many of these expressive arts can be combined in therapy sessions as well, and vary in beneficial results when used with clients (Malchiodi, 2013).
Expressive art therapy is used in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, mental health agencies, private practices, wellness centers and schools. It may be a part of a diverse set of programs geared towards alternative methods of treatment, or can be implemented on its own, which is more the case in a private practice setting (American Art Therapy Association, 1998). Expressive art therapy is used with individuals, groups, and families, including children. Children are inherently inquisitive and creative, and the use of expressive art allows them to explore their issues in a non-threatening and non-direct way. It is especially beneficial for children who are experiencing physical and/or mental health issues, and those who have experienced trauma (Gonick & Gold, 1991.
For children with illness and physical disabilities, expressive art therapies can be a way to cope with...