Expressive Arts Therapy Essay

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Expressive arts therapy is the use of art modalities, creative process, and aesthetic experience in a therapeutic context. It is a therapy of the imagination (McNiff, 1992). Effective communication is an essential element in therapeutic relationships and, although verbal language is the most conventional means of conveying information, other forms can convey just as much as words. The arts are an alternative form of communication that has recently received recognition for their value in therapeutic settings. There is a long well-established connection between the arts and psychology. Expressive arts therapy builds on a natural, complimentary relationship between the two disciplines. As a formal therapy, this form is relatively new with its…show more content…
The surrealist movement holds emotional authenticity and social activism as the highest ideals. Influenced by the work of Freud and Jung, the arts are viewed as psychic manifestations that go deeper than external reality. Spontaneous techniques, like psychic automatism (i.e. automatic writing and drawing), generate images from the unconscious and result in content similar to dream experiences and contemplating these images provides a new experience of reality (McNiff, 2009). Surrealism is not the only movement that influences expressive arts therapy. Other movements have made important contributions to both the philosophical foundations of art in psychology and the development of expressive arts therapy as a formal discipline. Wassaly Kadinsky, a German abstract expressionist, explored color, shape, and form as an expression of spirituality. He developed theories regarding the nature of art and the role of the artist as a “prophet”. His theories are based on inner experiences and art as the soul of nature and humanity. Joseph Beuys explored the role of artist as shaman. In his performance art, like How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare, he chose materials and actions for their symbolic value and manipulated them to affect the viewer. Spontaneous creativity is the focus of the beat generation. Writers, like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, worked
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