Expressive Arts Therapy is an alternative therapy model combining the creative process and psychotherapy for healing and growth. For children or adults having a difficult time communicating their emotions verbally, art and therapy combined can often provide a way for individuals to express themselves. Individually or in groups, people explore their responses, reactions, and insights through the process of creating art. 

What is The Difference Between Art Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy?

Both modalities use creativity as a means to express how a person is feeling or to uncover deeper emotions. Art Therapy tends to be based on one particular art form. Expressive arts therapy can use a variety of different art forms like movement, sculpture, journalling, or finger painting.

What is The Difference Between Creative Arts Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy?

Creative Arts Therapy tends to focus on one artistic discipline – art therapy, music therapy, dance therapy, writing therapy, drama therapy, etc. Often creative arts therapists work on learning the art form and then move on to use the artistic expression working with individuals through therapy for that discipline. 

Expressive arts therapy combines different creative art forms in counseling to help people express themselves in various ways. Typically expressive arts therapists are not experts in the artistic field. They focus on the integration of the art form with psychotherapy for healing and therapeutic outcomes. 

What Are Different Kinds Of Expressive Therapy?

There are various ways you can use expressive therapy. Each individual may find that a form works better for them than other methods of expression. Some of the forms of art psychotherapy are:

  • Finger painting
  • Journaling
  • Storytelling
  • Painting or drawing
  • Sculpture
  • Playing or listening to music
  • Film making
  • Movement or dance
  • Reading or writing poetry 
  • Theater or Improvisation
  • Creating memory books
  • Photography
  • Mask-making
  • Role-playing
  • Nature-based

Who Are Art Therapy Services For?

Art therapy is for anyone drawn to it. It can be especially helpful for non-verbal individuals or those unable to express themselves due to trauma. Adults and children, families or couples can benefit from art psychotherapy.

Although there is an emphasis on the process of creating art, it is not necessary to have a background or training in art to benefit.

In their “What is Arts Therapy?” brochure, The Canadian Art Therapy Association details there are research studies demonstrating the efficacy of art psychotherapy in areas such as:

  • Addictions or substance use issues 
  • Developmental disorders and disabilities (e.g. ADD, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder) 
  • Coping with physical health conditions
  • Depression, anxiety, and mental health
  • Grief and bereavement
  • Trauma or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)
  • Aging and geriatric issues

What to Expect in an Arts Therapy Session

During a typical expressive therapy session, a therapist will help you to communicate as you explore the process of creating art. The creative process highlights areas where there are problems or difficulties in your life and a registered social worker can help you to uncover insights. Expressive arts therapists are trained to interpret the creative expression rather than the outcome of the art created.

Delving into the world of creativity and imagination you may reach deeper emotional depth leading to a process of self-discovery 

Therapeutic work is based on the process of creating art using multiple senses to explore your inner and outer worlds. You may uncover different feelings through creativity that you weren’t able to reach or verbalize through talking or thinking.

Each modality is unique. A therapist may suggest different modalities for individuals depending on the strengths or readiness of the person in therapy. Different modalities may be used at any point during the therapeutic process as needed and even within the same therapy session.

Therapists may also use other modalities such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or mindfulness.

Can You Do Virtual Art Therapy?

Yes! Individual sessions of online art therapy are available throughout Ontario. You are guided through your healing process using art as a form of expression. Trained therapists can help you to express yourself through creativity virtually and help you to uncover insights and new levels of understanding. 

Book Expressive Arts Therapy in Toronto, London or Virtually in Ontario

Book an appointment to speak with one of our therapists for expressive arts therapy. We have Psychotherapists and Registered Social Workers in Toronto, London, and online to support you with this and our other counselling services.