What is Creative Arts Therapy?
Creative Arts Therapies include dramatherapy, music therapy, art therapy, dance movement therapy, and integrative therapy combining elements of all approaches.
What all Arts Therapies have in common is that in sessions, the client, supported by the therapist, uses an art form to explore and express feelings and experiences. My training is as a dramatherapist but I also integrate various other creative methods and a number of other therapeutic approaches into my work.
Dramatherapy "is a method of working and playing which uses action methods to facilitate creativity, imagination, learning, insight and growth"
British Association of Dramatherapists (Badth) Just click here to visit Badth.
If you have ever had strong emotions or identified with a character when you have been watching TV, a film or play, then you have experienced the power of drama to touch on aspects of our lives and what it means to be human. Drama can help us think about our lives, understand how we see ourselves, the roles that we play and our relationships, to make sense of things and make better choices. So dramatherapy uses drama processes in a therapeutic way.
For example a client may chose some miniature figures and objects to make an image, and develop a story about these figures, which represents some of the themes and struggles in their own lives. Or we might work with a myth or existing story that has themes that are relevant to the client’s situation. We may then go on to make masks depicting characters in the story which may then be used for enactment. Some times we may work more directly with material from a client's life for example to explore a relationship difficulty and use a psychodrama approach . Just click here to visit psychodrama.org.uk
These are just some possible ways of working. The way I work with each person, and the methods we use, will be unique to you and your needs. You will not be asked to do anything you don't want to do and you will be able to chose what feels right for you.
How Creative Arts Therapy can help
Sometimes we can feel life is like climbing a mountain. We may feel like we are at the bottom looking up daunted by how high and how steep the mountain seems; or perhaps we feel we've got some way up and are now stuck, exhausted or blocked in some way.
Maybe the backpack we're carrying is too heavy , weighing us down, or we simply don't have the right equipment or resources to help us keep going.
Exploring our experiences creatively and engaging our imaginations, our senses, our bodies and our emotions more can help us start understanding some of what may be blocking us, or weighing us down, preventing us knowing what resources we already have, and what else we might need to continue the journey in the way we want.
Essentially Creative Arts Therapy is a form of ‘play’ which is how we all learn, develop, understand ourselves and others, and the world around, us as children. A Creative Arts approach helps us to engage our imaginations and reconnect to this source of life so that we can re-source ourselves . In this way we are better able to tap into our intuition and build strength and resilience from the inside, so we have what we need in our backpacks, and are better able to live to our full potential on the outside.
Engaging in creative activities in this sense is not about making ‘art’ or performing, but about exploring, and discovering new aspects of ourselves. It can help people to develop confidence in themselves, increase spontaneity, and willingness to imagine new possibilities and to try new things.
Using a Creative Arts therapy approach can also help people to represent and express feelings about painful experiences that may be too distressing to talk about directly or ‘beyond words’, enabling them to gradually heal the impact of what may have been traumatic experiences on their lives, and to find ways of managing their lives differently.
Whatever the focus of the work in Creative Arts therapy the very experience of working creatively, and discovering spontaneity and playfulness can be both energising and freeing, leading people to a different experience of themselves, and giving them new resources for future growth and well-being.
You may find the following links about Creative Arts Therapies useful:
Just click here to visit Counselling Directory
Just click here to visit Mind
Where is Creative Arts Therapy Used?
Creative Arts Therapists work in private practice with a wide range of people from all walks of life.
They are also employed in other areas such as the NHS where they may work with people with Mental Health difficulties or Learning disabilities in hospitals or in the community, in hospices, or in other settings such as prisons, or with older people or people with disabilities in daycare or residential and nursing homes.
Creative Arts therapists also work in mainstream and special schools with children experiencing social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and with children and young people in organisations like CAMHS ( Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services)
They may work in different community settings and charitable organisations with specific groups for example: women who are, or have experienced domestic violence and abuse, people with sensory difficulties, groups experiencing discrimination such as members of the LGBT community, people who are homeless, refugee groups etc.
The approach to work will depend on the needs of the individual or group and can be tailored to focus on specific themes eg: building self- esteem and social skills for people who have been unemployed and want to start working again;with older people with dementia using a multi-sensory approach encouraging communication and providing an enriching experience which can improve the "quality"of life.
Or there will be a more general focus enabling the individual or group to explore issues and themes of importance to them.
Creative Arts Therapies can also be adapted to training and personal development situations for eg: within Staff training and development programmes as a tool to explore staff well-being, teamwork, professional values, communication issues and developing an organisational vision.
Creative Arts Therapists have to be registered with the Health Care and Professionals Council (HCPC) the UK Regulatory body for what are known as Allied Health Professions. They abide by the code of conduct of the HCPC and have guidelines concerning supervision, continuous professional development and managing risk. Just click here to visit HCPC.