Nowadays, Expressive therapies are employed as an alternative approach in medicine, mental health, and rehabilitation. Nevertheless, history proves that throughout the existence of mankind, art has been employed as a therapeutic and healing agent. For instance, it is reported that the Egyptians used to embolden people who suffered from mental illness to participate in an artistic activity (Freshman & Fryrear, The arts in therapy, 1981); the Greeks used music and drama for its mending characteristics (Gladding, 1992).
During the Renaissance, according to Robert Burton’s theory (the English physician and writer), the role of the imagination was crucial in terms of well-being and health. De Feltre (the Italian philosopher), moreover, argued that playing and dancing were extremely significant to children’s development and growth.
The proper use of the arts as a supplementary medical treatment came into play from the late 19th century to the 20th century.
According to Joseph Moreno (the founder of psychodrama), mental health can be reinstated through the use of enactment.
The creative art therapies became vastly popular during the 1930s and 1940s. During this period, artists and psychotherapists began to realize that self-expression via non-verbal ways such as movement, painting and music might be beneficial to patients with mental ailments.
Nowadays, Expressive therapies are utilized as subordinate and main forms of treatment. They are applied in medical, rehabilitative and mental health settings. For instance, music and imaginary theater are now deployed regularly for pain reduction, childbirth, and relaxation. Play and art have proved their efficacy in debriefing, resolution, and trauma. Writing has been applied to improve illnesses like arthritis, asthma and to also reduce post-traumatic stress in individuals who have encountered the loss of a loved one or a traumatic event.
What makes Expressive Therapy Unique?
Expressive Therapy entails specific characteristics that you usually don’t find in verbal therapies:
2. Active participation
4. Mind-body connections Self-expression
Emboldening individuals to engage in self-expression is in the very nature and aim of all therapies. Expressive Therapy not only stimulates self-exploration but also utilizes self-expression through various modalities as the pivotal component of the procedures of treatment.
Most therapies use the fullest potential of music, play, art and writing. This is because expressing oneself through movement, painting, or poetry can recap events of the past and also produce catharsis for some patients.
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