By Kasey Varga May 16, 2013

The Expressive Arts Theapy 2013 graduates have created a remarkable showcase of their personal works of art. You can view the exhibit through May 19th at the CIIS main campus (third floor). Below is a description of "Creative Expression as Therapeutic Process and Art as Co-Therapist."

Creative expression, whether through image, creative writing, movement, or performance, has the capacity to help a client communicate and explore complex and multidimensional feelings and experiences that can become minimized, static, or constricted through language. Expressive arts therapists learn to utilize different art modalities and creative processes in a variety of ways to fit the client's needs. Different media are selected for characteristics ranging from controlled to spontaneous, cerebral to embodied. In its most basic form, the creative process in therapy helps place the control and agency back onto the clients, enabling them to trust their own internal wisdom and experience, an embodies sense of knowing.

As artists and therapists-in-training, students learn to use the arts not only as a therapeutic tool but also for their own self-care. In their practice, they utilize a process called aesthetic response to gain deeper understanding, and as a diagnostic tool. If an anesthetic deadens or numbs feeling, by contrast, an aesthetic response enlivens and attunes one to a particular experience or feeling. Through the creation of an image, a ritual, a movement, or a piece of writing, for example, EXA therapists further explore their own experiences in relation to their clients' issues. By externalizing feelings or imagery after a session with a client, the therapist uses the arts as a container and co-therapist, to help honor and hold the heavy or indescribably aspects of their clients' stories.

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