Wonders of Expressive Therapies!

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Most of us experience different soul shattering experiences during the course of our lives. We all have different ways to cope up with these experiences some talk the problems out, some write about them, some seek medical attention but there also exists a major chunk of population who keeps these experiences as well as the affects of these experiences to themselves. They keep going over what happened? Why it happened? How could it have been avoided? How could it be different? They torture themselves internally and fall victims to inward stress and hidden depression. They do not acknowledge the fact that what’s eating them from inside might have disastrous consequences.

I know a certain woman who started developing cysts in various parts of their body in the mourning period of her father’s death. She was emotionally and mentally so tortured that her body started wearing out with worry. You see many such cases where one hidden sub conscious reason results in many visible illnesses. For all such introverts, for those emotionally distanced and mentally sober people who aren’t that comfortable sharing their burdens, their worries, fears or thoughts with anyone, for all those who think they are better off without many knowing what goes in their heads on daily basis and also for those who do want but are unable to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong, expressive therapy is the most useful tool.

What is expressive therapy?
Art, music, and dance are forms of creative expression that can help you process and cope with emotional issues, including depression. Expressive therapy goes beyond traditional talk therapy. It focuses on creative outlets as a means of expression. This therapy can be especially helpful for people who find it difficult to talk about their thoughts and emotions.

According to the California Institute of Integral Studies, psychologists use expressive arts therapy in many settings to help people explore difficult issues in their lives. These issues may be:
•emotional
•social
•spiritual
•cultural

The therapy is based on the belief that all people have the ability to express themselves creatively. The therapy can promote:
•self-awareness
•emotional well-being
•healing
•self-esteem

How it works

Expressive therapy can include various forms of artistic expression. This can include:
•art
•music
•dance
•drama
•writing and storytelling

In expressive therapy, the therapist encourages you to use these arts to communicate about emotions and life events. These are often subjects that you may find difficult to put into words. For example, a child might draw a scene that represents a traumatic event. They may dance to express emotion by moving their body. The art becomes the mode of expression for personal exploration and communication.
Many a times, the presence of a therapist is not even essential, you can share the art/dance with your friends or can even practice it on your own, the expression (art) though kept private yet helps in easing the troubles, it helps in understanding just what was wrong and helps in learning coping techniques.

Types of expressive therapy include:

Art therapy
People draw or paint images that represent their thoughts and emotions. Art therapy is common in hospitals, particularly for children.

Music therapy
This type of therapy includes:
•singing
•songwriting
•playing musical instruments
•listening to music

All are intended to promote healing and positive emotions.

Writing or poetry therapy
People write to communicate and work through difficult emotions. Research shows that writing promotes health and well-being. It also boosts immune function. The University of California at San Francisco reported that a storytelling project helped women with HIV become less isolated. It also led to improvements with the safety and quality of their living situations.

Dance therapy
People can express and process how they feel through movement. The therapy helps people improve both their mental and physical health.

Drama therapy
This type of therapy includes role-playing, improvisational techniques, or puppetry. This may help people:
•express emotions
•release tension and emotion
•develop new and more effective coping skills
•Other disorders treated with expressive therapy

People experiencing the following disorders or issues may also benefit from expressive therapy:
•anxiety
•stress
•low self-esteem
•conflict resolution
•interpersonal relationship or family problems
•learning disabilities
•bereavement
•eating disorders
•dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
•terminal or chronic conditions, such as cancer or chronic pain
•alcohol or drug addiction
•trauma, including trauma from sexual, physical, or emotional abuse

So for all those troubled souls who are lost deep in past worries or impeding thoughts, try expressing it in any way you deem comfortable. It not only will help you relax but will also instill self faith about coping such issues in future. Stay Blessed!

Studies and facts adopted from: http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/expressive-therapy#uses4

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