Expressive Arts Therapy

If your heart could talk, what would it say?

Close your eyes, delve into your inner self, and sense the genuine expression of your heart. If it had a color, texture, or energy, what would it be? Allow it the space to convey its messages – what it says, what it desires, and what it truly needs at this moment.

Listening to the body’s voice is a rarity, yet it holds profound insights for us. When we grant it the freedom to express itself through movement, drawing, writing, and sound, we set in motion an alchemical transformation at the cellular level.

The body is physically restricted when emotions are bound up inside. People’s shoulders tighten; their facial muscles tense. They spend enormous energy on holding back their tears – or any sound or movement that might betray their inner state. When the physical tension is released, the feelings can be released. Movement helps breathing to become deeper, and as the tensions are released, expressive sounds can be discharged. The body becomes freer- breathing freer, being in flow.” –Bessel Van Der Kolk

Consider the case of a recent client, whom we’ll call John, seeking neurofeedback to address difficulties in speaking. John, shaped by a narcissistic and impatient father and a mother who talked but didn’t listen, found his voice stuck in his throat since childhood. Initially benefiting from neurofeedback, we introduced EMDR to delve deeper. During the process, John discovered solace in the bilateral stimulation and expressed a desire to release his pent-up emotions.

Our journey began with making sounds, progressing to giving voice to the unspoken words he held towards his parents. With added volume and force, he learned to occupy space in the room. Incorporating stomping and chanting, John experienced a profound transformation, likening himself to a Maori tribesman. The fusion of movement and imagination liberated his voice, proclaiming, “I am John! I can speak!”

“In this approach to movement-based expressive arts therapy, people learn a practice which teaches them how to access and understand the messages of their bodies within the larger context of what is happening in their lives. Not only can we cultivate awareness and the ability to witness what is happening in us by focusing on the body, using expressive movement we can respond consciously and work creatively with whatever arises. By going to the deepest levels of our physical, emotional, and thinking body, we can free ourselves of some of our conditioning and history.” – Daria Halprin, co-founder of The Tamalpa Institute