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Expressive Arts Therapy Essay

2326 words - 9 pages

The guidelines for practice of expressive arts therapy is informed by six principles: physical environment, emotional safety, non-interpretative approaches, role in assessment or diagnosis, media choices, and empathetic listening. Suitable physical environments are caring and safe places. Physical spaces are ones of privacy and comfort. Emotional safety is found in the rapport established between the therapist and client as well as ensuring that creative products will be treated confidentially. Non-interpretative approaches have no value judgments and are not analyzed or interpreted by the therapist. This is conveyed by posing self-discovery questions and allowing the client to give meaning to their work. The work done in therapy sessions is not used for assessment or diagnosis although it can be used in formulating a hypothesis. One of the golden rules of assessment, regardless of orientation, is no single source of information is adequate by itself; data is acquired from multiple sources. In addition, clients that suspect their work is being used for diagnosis may perform rather than be spontaneous altering the end result. There are art-based assessment instruments; however, these are projective types of tests that require training and experience to use them. Client comfort with the media being used or the activity engaged is can also affect the end result and offering choices keeps clients involved in the therapy session. Clients dissatisfied or disinterested detract from the end result or they may blame the media activity uncomfortable feelings. Therapists that plan ahead for these possibilities have a range of materials readily available and alternative activities planned. Last but not least is emphatic listening. Verbal processing is not essential; however it is beneficial and can be encouraged. Using invitational approaches and being attentive, present, and non-judgmental increases client willingness to talk about their work (Pierson & Wilson, Exploring Art as Therapy, 2009).
The planning of individual sessions is determined by the environment, needs, and abilities of the participants. There are three important components to be considered: structure, simplicity, and witnessing. The first consideration is structure, specifically, establishing sufficient structure without impeding creative expression. Along the same line is directive vs. non-directive ways of working with clients. Structure also applies to planned activities. Applying structure to a drawing exercise could be working exclusively with lines, dashes, or other types of marks or thematically in the expression of a concept, like close or separate, or emotion. In dance or music, it may be using a specific pattern, repetition, or conceptual and emotional themes (McNiff, 2009). Simplicity refers to structures and activities that don’t require complicated explanations or a multitude of steps. Simple activities or exercises involve repetition. Repetition can be a means of letting...

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