Have you ever danced in your living room, taken an art class, written a poem or sang in the shower and thought to yourself, “I feel so much better!” Something amazing happens when we engage the right side of our brain and tap into our creative soul. We become more whole. Our body says, “Thank you for getting out of your head and allowing us to play.” Our intuition thanks us for letting the unconscious become present. Our mind is happy to have a little vacation. This part of the brain is activated in a Creative Arts Therapy session, where creativity meets healing.
What I often notice when I invite people into the creative space of self-discovery is a ton of fear. Thoughts pop up to stop us from engaging in the thing that has tremendous evidence around helping us overcome roadblocks and obstacles in our lives. Any of these thoughts sound familiar? “I’m not good at art.” “I’m a terrible singer.” “I’m too shy to do improv.” “I’d look stupid.” “People will judge me.” “I don’t have time for that kind of stuff.” These are fear thoughts that get in the way of joy.
So I thought it might be fun to take a moment to talk about what I’ve learned as a Registered Drama Therapist (a specialization within the umbrella of Creative Arts Therapy, also known as Expressive Arts Therapy), based on years of working with clients individually and in groups to support those who want to learn more about themselves or who might feel stuck in their lives. Additionally, I have used Creative Arts Therapy to help people struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, social skill building and interpersonal difficulties.
So what is this “Creative Arts Therapy” and how does it work? Well, thank you for asking. Creative Arts Therapy uses creative means such as art, music, dance/movement, poetry/creative writing and drama to support personal growth and healing. It’s process-based, meaning that the act of creation and the meaning it brings is more important than the end product. Creative Arts Therapists have a master’s degree level of education and must complete a significant amount of clinical hours in their specific discipline before becoming credentialed.
As someone who has myself engaged in Drama Therapy groups, Soul Collage workshops, and Touch Painting workshops, I can say firsthand how much joy it has brought me. As someone who has facilitated the process for others, I’ve seen how quickly Creative Arts Therapy can touch the soul and begin to heal wounds that hold us back.
So here are my top five reasons why Creative Arts Therapy can bring you joy:
- It’s incredibly mindful. There is something amazing about working creatively that gets us out of our heads and into the present moment. There is so much evidence out there that mindfulness can be super helpful in treating anxiety and depression, as well as strengthening our ability to tap into our inner joy.
- It helps connect us to others while learning about ourselves. We all need friends, and, as adults, they’re hard to find. In a Creative Arts Therapy group, there may be moments when you are exploring individually and then come back to the group, and there are moments when the group is working all together. It’s so powerful to see so many perspectives emerge from a group and know that you are not alone. This can create powerful connections between individuals in a group or workshop. In Drama Therapy, we do a lot of mirroring. The mirror neurons that are released have the potential for shared joy. Isn’t science awesome?!
- It’s completely validating. Having someone else witness our creative process is so moving. There is vulnerability in being present with someone else who will not judge you or your work. There’s no competing, just acceptance. How often do you get that in your life? It’s juicy joyfulness.
- It can transform a crappy day into a happy day. How many times have you felt like crap at the end of the day and made an excuse to not go to the gym or yoga class, but you do and it makes you feel awesome and accomplished?! Yep, there’s a reason why evidence shows that moving your body helps with mental wellness. Creative Arts Therapy is an active process that gets you off the couch and into an active experience.
- It’s fun and sometimes funny. The laughter that I’ve experienced in facilitating so many of my Creative Arts Therapy, Drama Therapy or drumming groups leaves me feeling energized and ready to take on the rest of the day. Laughter is often the best medicine, turning the brain’s frown upside down.
Creative Arts Therapy groups are an amazing way to release the energy we unintentionally hold onto in our bodies such as the stress from a job or taking care of others. They allow space for self-exploration, improvement in mental wellness, and self-care. It has the potential to heal from pain as well as bring us joy.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Creative Arts Therapy groups or workshops I have coming up, click here. If there is a Creative Arts/Drama Therapy group or workshop that you would like to see offered in the community but isn’t listed, contact me.
Please note that this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from a doctor or mental health professional.