By chance, it almost seemed, I found myself in an upstairs room above a bookstore, a converted attic filled with overstuffed chairs and well-worn sofas, comfortably messy and refreshingly informal. Here I was, at my first Expressive Arts group event, a workshop venture I’d stumbled upon while surfing the web for group therapy opportunities. About ten of us had convened and were milling around, getting settled, and introducing ourselves to each other. I didn’t know anyone, but felt strangely at home and among new but like-minded friends.
At the time, I barely knew what Expressive Arts was. I think it was the workshop description that had gotten me – something about meditation and art supplies and self-exploration – and I was sold. I was already in, and though it wasn’t til later that I found out more, so much more, about this curious and dimensional art practice, that day I got my first taste of something deliciously fun and soul-inviting. After a guided meditation, I created a collage of construction paper and magazine clippings, and when instructed to spend some time reflecting on my image through writing, I was surprised how insight into my own personal experiences began to flow like water.
Like I said, I was hooked. In the months and years to come, I developed a consistent personal Expressive Arts practice, and learned a great deal more about its fundamental principles, including:
- It is intermodal, meaning not only do we engage in more than one mode of expression (visual art, sound, movement, drama, meditation, writing) at a time, we combine them in the same sitting. Doing so engages the whole person – body, mind and spirit.
- Expressive Arts practice is for everyone. Creativity is the birthright of every individual, not the exclusive purview of naturally skilled or trained artists.
- In a group setting it fosters community, and allows our unique creative expressions to be witnessed and accepted without judgment or critique. In turn, we can offer this to others.
Several years later, I continue to attend both virtual and in-person Expressive Arts groups on a pretty consistent basis, and have even become a facilitator (check out Integrative Counsel’s virtual Expressive Arts Groups, first Thursday of every month!). And my personal home-based practice has turned out to be, for me, like a weekly mini-retreat, relaxing and engaging as well as a way to reflect more deeply on both my past experiences and my way forward (try out a mini Expressive Arts exercise, quick and easy to do at home, in Part Two of Time and Space for Reflection – Deepening My Creative Practice During Quarantine).
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Laura Hensley, Counselor, LMHC. Through Expressive Arts therapy and personal practice, I find and make meaning, develop my own personal mythology, and gain confidence and connection to myself and others. I offer this same opportunity to Integrative Counsel clients by way of multimodal creative exploration of your intentions, goals, and heartfelt desires!