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Expressive Art Therapy

By Janet Leavell Jergins, LPC, LMFT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor

Expressive Art Therapy

“I make art when I can’t gather the words to say.”  Nikki Rowe

Expressive Arts Therapy helps the unconscious mind communicate with the conscious mind.  Spending time in a non-verbal art exercise with a therapist is one means of allowing a wounded self to find a way to unburden, without the trauma of verbally recounting painful events.

Study Impact of Visual Art Making

A 2016 study looked at the relationship between spending time making art and the lowering of cortisol levels. Prolonged elevation the stress hormone, cortisol, can result in sustained elevations of blood sugar, substantial loss of calcium from done, depression of immune system responses, high blood pressure, less of muscle mass, increased fat accumulation and even loss of cognitive function. Cortisol

After only 45 minutes of creating visual art, participants experienced a lower level of Cortisol. Surprisingly, the effect worked whether the participant had any previous experience creating art!  Children in my practice are often eager to sit at the art desk and create.  Adults often worry about their performance, and resist.  It is useful to know that the process of creating trumps the actual product.  All ages and types of people benefit from the process of making art,

Ideas for Expressive Art Therapy

Expressive art therapy interventions might include journaling, sand tray, listening to evocative music, dance, psychodrama, sculpting, or drawing and painting.

Qualifications for Licensed Art Therapist

A licensed art therapist must have an undergraduate degree in art, then complete a specialized master’s program.  None of the therapists of Turning Point Counseling are certified Art Therapists, but expressive art interventions can be utilized by any licensed therapist. I frequently use art and sand tray as a means of expression and healing.  I also use art for my own stress relief and a way to express my own emotions.  Below is a painting in encaustic that I made after a near death experience.

Expressive Art Therapy