Expressive Art Therapy

Expressive art therapy is a type of integrative, multimodal approach which utilizes a variety of methods including writing, music, visual arts and drama. In this therapy the therapist helps the client to explore and understand their reactions to their experiences with the help of different forms of expressive art. This is a process of self-discovery that relies on artistic self-expression in order to achieve emotional release. This therapy focuses on the creativity process utilizing a wide range of material by exploring a number of different techniques as a part of therapeutic interventions. People facing mental health problems might experience difficulty expressing themselves through words so they use expressive art through which they can learn about themselves and share what they are feeling in a therapeutic context. 

There are various types of expressive art therapy

  • Art therapy: this involves using the visual arts including drawing, painting and sculpting. This helps in working through emotions, thoughts and experiences. 

  • Dance therapy: this therapy involves utilizing physical and dance movements in order to help clients cope with mental health symptoms including anxiety, depression and stress. 

  • Music therapy: this approach involves creating or to listening to music in order to help the client improve their mood and ease anxiety.

  • Writing therapy: this involves exploring thoughts and emotions through writing. This includes writing a journal about one’s life or writing poems and fictional stories.

Expressive art therapy is different because it includes many techniques and involves tools instead of being limited to a single approach. Drawing on different modalities and integrating them in a way that is beneficial for clients can create an unique experience that allows people to better understand their approach, thoughts, experiences and memories. 

Therapists who use expressive art therapy use a wide variety of techniques in order to create a treatment which is best suited for a client's needs. This can include hand painting, crafting, dancing, journal writing etc. In addition to using healing properties of self expression through expressive art, therapists can also combine it with psychotherapeutic modalities including psychodynamic, cognitive and mindfulness approaches. 

The use of expressive art therapy allows people to formulate or work with those strategies that work the best for them. According to the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA), this involves using  arts processes with psychology and community education in order to  help people improve their creativity, gain clarity, and achieve deep healing


Expressive treatment  has been utilized in many settings including public venues, with the destitute, with workers, with malignant growth patients, with patients in dementia care, and with patients in hospice care. One needn't bother with being a craftsman or have any unique abilities to put oneself out there through workmanship making; the main thing is an open disposition to imagination in day to day existence. This permits one to allow oneself as well as other people an opportunity to connect with and be moved by craftsmanship and to change the example of day to day existence," recommended the creators of one survey of examination on the utilization of the expressive expressions in treatment


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