Creative Expressive Art Therapy


 

Ritual, story-telling, music and dance is inclusive to most cultures, yet often under-utilized in psychological practices. For the majority of the South African population, psychology as an individual endeavor is foreign and viewed with suspicion due to the Western-influenced training and also positivistic and discriminatory past of psychology. Using creative expressive art therapy can however equip the psychologist to connect with clients who do not want to or cannot express their traumatic experiences in words. 

Creative expressive art therapies are informed by the seminal work of people such as Sally Atkins, Stephen and Ellen Levine, Paoli Knill, Shaun McNiff and Cathy Malchiodi, to name but a few. Children and adults can be engaged in a process of actively, mindfully building their reality or worldview, through language, drama, music, dance, dream-work, drawing, painting and sculpting. As such, creative expressive art therapy is founded on sensory expression in combination with imagination.

Learning entails a sensory experience, combined with a mental activity and has a strong emotional componentand the same applies to dealing with trauma experiences. Such experiences can affect and impair sensory integration, cognitive functioning, and emotional responses that can manifest either as hyper-arousal or hypo-arousal and subsequently result in detached social relationships. Creative expressive art therapy can enable the individual to engage on a sensory level through a ‘language’ of imagination with traumatic experiences, using a modality that is comfortable to the individual or group. Imagination can be expressed in many ways and creative expressive art therapy is therefore an intermodal intervention, using what the client brings in the form of creative expression. The focus is therefore not on the end product, an outcome that is measured artistically, but on the process of engagement, of sensory connectedness and creative expressiveness.

Creative expressive art therapy can be applied from a non-directive approach to a very engaged interaction with the psychologist, depending on the intervention paradigm of the psychologist. Considering the context of South Africa with the need for brief therapeutic interventions, the principles of Strategic constructivist therapies such as Ericksonian Psychotherapy, impact therapy and Narrative therapy can therefore be applied in creative expressive art therapy. As such, the therapeutic intervention can be tailored to suit the context and needs of a client, group or a community.

Unmasking the mask of ‘shameful’ emotions: 11 April 2021  - Dr Elzette Fritz

The onset of COVID-19 has masked humanity, not only physically, but also emotionally. Whilst the wearing of a mask is deemed essential in the protection agaings COVID, masks have also been used throughout the ages to protect a person from danger or hide / ‘mask’ an aspect of oneself. Masks can also represent ancestors or supernatural beings with super powers where an alter-ego is identified through a mask. The pandemic has left many people with a mixture of feelings for which they have no words or voice. For many the sense of helplessness in 2020 has activated past trauma, resulting in an experience of fragmentation, dissociation and conflicting emotions.  

Throughout the ages creative engagement has served as a means to express that which words are unable to and to give voice to parts of the self and accompanying emotions silences by others. Expressive arts therapies are defined as the use of art, music, dance, movement, drama, poetry, creative writing, play etc. within the context of psychotherapy, counselling and health care.  When expressive arts are used in therapy and conducted in a supportive setting, it can facilitate growth and healing for individuals of all ages. By utilizing expressive arts in psychotherapy, an opportunity of discovery and learning through engaging on a creative and sensory level, is provided. This workshop will enable participants to engage with their respective masks, giving voice to a variety of ego states whilst expressing those emotions a person, for various reasons, might be ashamed of.  

This hands-on workshop is aimed at introducing health care professionals to the phenomena of creative expressive arts in therapy in the following manner:

 An introduction to creative expressive arts in psychotherapy from a socio-cultural theoretical framework, referring specifically to Natalie Roger’s creative connections approach.  

Engaging in exploring emotions and ego states through a mask.

Ethical principles in the creative expressive arts process and ego states therapy.

Engaging in experiential learning through expressive arts activities.


Finding Hope in Pandora’s box -   integrating expressive arts therapy in exploring resilient ego states. -13 June 2021 Dr Elzette Fritz 

People often find themselves trapped by events, experiences and thoughts where they feel out of control and words fail to create change. Throughout the ages creative engagement has served as a means to express that which words cannot. Expressive arts therapies are defined as the use of art, music, dance, movement, drama, poetry, creative writing, play and sandtray within the context of psychotherapy, counselling and health care.  When creative expressive arts are used in therapy and conducted in a supportive setting, it can facilitate growth and healing for individuals of all ages, presenting with various difficulties. By utilizing expressive arts in psychotherapy, an opportunity of discovery and learning through engaging on a creative and sensory level, is provided.  This workshop will enable participants to engage with their restrictive thoughts, feelings and behaviour, through the metaphor of Pandora’s box. This hands-on workshop is aimed at introducing health care professionals to the phenomena of creative expressive arts in therapy in the following manner:

  • An introduction to creative expressive arts in psychotherapy from a socio-cultural theoretical framework, referring specifically to Natalie Roger’s creative connections approach. 
  • Engaging in expressive arts in a process that enhances safety and stabilization
  • Explore ego-states that can assist in providing hope
  • Ethical principles in the expressive arts process
  • Engaging in experiential learning through expressive arts activities 

Into the Labyrinth with Ego State Therapy… Exploring your parts and inner strength as journey through the labyrinth - 24 October 2021  Dr Elzette Fritz and Joy Nel 

Research in psychology and child development suggests that circles are part of the fundamental structuring of personal identity. The Labyrinth – is a symbol that relates to wholeness. It is an ancient archetype used symbolically, as a walking meditation and ceremony, among other things. Labyrinths are tools for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation. Labyrinths evoke metaphor, mindfulness, environmental art, and community building. This workshop explores the use of Labyrinths, mindfulness and the art in therapy to firstly assist client the move the focus off what’s wrong and onto what’s right. Secondly the utilization of Labyrinths in Ego State therapy creates effortless flow for the client to easily identify their resources and skills as various techniques to illicit, communicate with and reintegrate the client’s ego states. From this background participants will be introduced to various ways of utilising Labyrinths and how this can be superimposed on the SARIA model used in Ego State Therapy.  In this highly interactive, fun and engaging multimedia workshop, participants are invited to enter the world of Labyrinths into a deeper understanding of the parts of the personality. Various methods and techniques of using Labyrinths in Ego State therapy will be explored. 

Aims of the workshop:   

This activity aims at providing:

•        insights into the dynamics of utilising labyrinths in therapy

•        therapists with techniques and skills in utilising the art of labyrinths in EST. 

•        discussions on the utilization of Creative Expressive Art therapy, and EST. 

•        different skills and introducing different media to the therapist, in order to help a person create a symbolic object as communication of his or her communication with the various ego-states