What is Creative Arts Therapy?
They say we can’t wear masks. They say we can’t paint walls. They say we can’t make up stories. They say we can’t move without inhibition. Why then creative arts therapy? Merely because we say, you CAN.
The creative arts therapy as a revolutionary approach arose in the middle of the 20th century. It was in stark contrast to the traditional psychotherapies, although it draws on principles from Psycho-dynamism, Humanism and few other schools of thought. The arts allow for an expression that is able to transcend our conscious articulation and help us express aspects which are unconscious, inaccessible and bring them to awareness.
What does Drama and Movement (Sesame) mean?
Drama and movement based therapeutic techniques in the Sesame approach are vividly metaphorical and symbolic. Routine everyday activities and life changing events contribute greatly to our thoughts and behavior. Their influence most often cannot be measured by simple words. They lie embedded in our muscles, dreams, imagination, fantasies, gestures, dreams and other hidden spaces. Thus creative arts therapy taps into the unconscious realm and uses stories, movement, drama and visual art to access it.
Won’t I be vulnerable?
The beauty of the therapy is that it gives life to various aspects of the self, forbidding interpretation. The therapist in this context is referred to as a facilitator; absolutely free of judgments or analysis which may help pave the way to self-enhancement. This open, safe, confidential space is not to make one feel weak, but to feel secure.
Is it just fun and games?
Creative arts therapy, although highly liberal and unstructured, is based on a number of theories. Carl Jung’s work on the unconscious, Rudolph Laban's art of movement, Boal's theatre of the oppressed and Peter Slade's work in playspaces, are some of the theoretical frameworks. The sessions are also based on well-planned stages. The nuance, however, is to provide freedom within boundaries and structure within the unstructured. Therefore, the work happens without feeling like its work.
How is it different from other therapies?
Compared to other techniques, movement therapy is less verbal and drama therapy’s verbal content is less direct. Clients will, however, be given the opportunity to speak, though the purpose of speech will be different. After the initial steps of discovering and expressing emotions, familiarizing oneself with the new found emotions follows. Now the individual has the luxury to decide an appropriate method to deal with the emotions, thus leading to a healthier emotional environment. Despite the mysterious connotation, it uses activities which are spontaneous, entertaining and novel. There are still plenty of sessions that may be just about processing and bringing cognitive insight through traditional talk psychotherapy.
Who can engage in it?
Creative Arts Therapy is universally applicable. There is no age, gender, race, or social class restriction. It is also not necessary to be an artist to be a consumer. Even those with impaired movement or cognition can benefit from art based therapies. People facing any sort of emotional, mental, psychological or somatic distress ranging from 'high functioning' work or relationship stress to any sort of post traumatic work or even just self exploration is possible under creative arts therapies. Thus, creative arts therapy can provide an all encompassing and highly enriching experience as it marries us to our primal and instinctual gift of art.
Resources for more information:
To know about Dance Movement Therapy or find a DMT in your city, Please visit IADMT (Indian Association of Dance Movement Therapy)
To know more about the PG Diploma in Dance Movement Therapy, click here.
To know about Drama Therapy, pls visit BADth (British Association of Dramatherapists)
To know more about the Indian context and the rise of dramatherapy in India, click here.