What is Expressive Arts Therapy?

Sep 2019 What is Expressive Arts Therapy?

It’s no secret that addiction treatment will stir up powerful emotions. In fact, some people avoid recovery for fear of dealing with these emotions. However, the only way to heal is to work through challenging emotions. Expressive arts therapy can help you get in touch with your emotions when you just don’t have the words.

This type of therapy can be part of your treatment plan for mental health or addiction. Expressive arts therapy is a type of experiential therapy, where you engage in an activity with therapeutic support. Additional examples of these therapies include holistic, wilderness, and animal-assisted therapy.

What is Expressive Arts Therapy?

Expressive arts therapy helps you express yourself when you struggle to share your emotional experiences verbally. Indeed, sometimes shutting out your emotions might be why you are addicted in the first place. For instance, you might numb negative feelings with drugs or alcohol.

Therefore, this type of therapy can help you get in touch with your emotions through creativity. In addition, you might uncover emotions that you didn’t realize that you had. As you learn to express yourself creatively, you can work through these emotions.

However, creativity is not enough to define expressive therapies. You also need the guidance of a trained therapist. A therapist will help you make sense of the connection between your creativity and your emotions. 

Anyone can express themselves creatively. In addition to expressing emotions, expressive therapies encourage you to be more creative to channel your energy. In addition, there are several options for anyone to choose from to benefit from this type of therapy.

Types of Expressive Therapies

Expressive arts therapy allows you to choose from several types of creative activities. Nearly any creative outlet could be a type of expressive art therapy. Furthermore, discussing works of art created by others can also be a part of your therapy. For example, you might listen to a piece of music to discuss any feelings the notes stir up within you.

Common types of expressive therapies include:

  • Traditional art, such as drawing, painting, photography, or sculpting
  • Crafts, like scrapbooks, collages, or woodwork
  • Music therapy, which includes singing, songwriting, or playing an instrument
  • Dancing to help express feelings through movement
  • Writing poetry, stories, or journal entries
  • Psychodrama involves role-playing to practice communication skills and emotional expression

Your therapist will most likely provide a topic or prompt to get you started. For instance, they could give you a writing prompt like “What was the best day of your life?” or ask you to draw what sadness looks like. However, you can also create art without a prompt to then identify your feelings afterward.

Expressive arts therapy can also be a part of group therapy. Psychodrama, for example, is often a part of group therapy. You can help your peers by role-playing throughout group therapy. In addition, groups can work on projects together to share and provide feedback.

The Benefits of Expressive Therapies

Expressive arts therapy offers several benefits. Overall, your therapist is trained to notice deep emotions within your creativity. Then, your therapist will shed light on your emotions and help you process them. 

In addition, you can get the following benefits:

  • Teaches healthy coping skills for difficult emotions
  • Reduces your stress levels
  • Distract yourself from troubling thoughts and feelings
  • Provides a new way for you to express yourself
  • Develop social and communication skills
  • Improve self-esteem and decrease shame
  • Uncover and deal with uncomfortable feelings
  • Helpful for those with speech difficulties
  • Beneficial for those with a history of trauma, especially veterans
  • Develop self-awareness and emotional intelligence

You might struggle to express yourself when you begin therapy. That is to say, you could feel “blocked up” or disconnected from your emotional life. Therefore, expressive arts therapy can improve your emotional health, which is essential for recovery. Thus, the better you are at expressing your emotions, the more effective your therapy will be.

How Can Expressive Arts Therapy Help Treat Addiction?

Expressive arts therapy can help treat addiction as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. In other words, expressive arts can be another tool for you to use in your recovery. Overall, the best treatment plans will offer multiple avenues of treatment.

In addition, you might use drugs or alcohol to deal with emotions. Some people use substances to numb themselves, whereas others use them in order to feel something. For instance, someone with trauma might drink to forget their experiences, while a person with depression might use stimulants to feel excitement. Therefore, expressive arts therapy provides a healthy outlet for the emotions suppressed or expressed with substance abuse. 

Also during talk therapy, you might struggle to express your feelings. So, expressive arts therapy can help you make breakthroughs in therapy when the words simply aren’t there yet.

Expressive Arts Therapy in Palm Desert, CA

During addiction therapy, you might struggle to share your emotions within a support group or therapy session. However, expressive arts therapy can be part of your treatment plan at Phoenix Rising Recovery in Palm Desert, CA, to help you improve your emotional wellness. We offer several types of experiential therapies, like expressive arts, to help you develop the coping skills needed for lifelong recovery. Contact us today to rise above your addiction.