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Why do we choose to use art as therapy?

Have you ever danced in front of turned off the TV using it as a mirror?

I think my own therapeutic journey had started there – as a child I spent hours jumping around, pretending to be someone else, dreaming and, as I understand now, dancing my worries away. At the time it seemed the very natural thing to do because dancing made me feel better whatever was happening to me. Now I am grown-up, I am an Expressive Arts and Dance/Movement Therapist and I’m using movement to help people to feel better about themselves, grow resilience and be more at peace with themselves and with the world around.

Certainly, some of us as children (and as adults sometimes) did not have enough vocabulary or ability to express verbally what is going on inside us. The whole inner world remains unspoken and it may create sufficient tension, problematic behavior and sometimes psycho-somatic illnesses. When people are experiencing intense, complex, or confusing emotions, the use of art in a therapeutic setting can help them learn about, manage, and communicate their feelings in ways that language cannot always accomplish.

Expressive Arts Therapy and Dance/Movement Psychotherapy belong to the creative arts therapy field - this type of psychotherapy is rooted in a person's natural ability for transformation through creative process.

To begin with, the opportunity to express ourselves - through creating visual representation of inner world, through transformation into an imaginary character or storytelling, dance or music making - is healing itself. This is the path to the following:

• dealing with feelings that cannot be called out, and with states that are hard to talk about

• getting rid of a tension, releasing worries

• transforming unconscious feeling into consciousness material, making visible of whatever seemed invisible

• expressing of what is inside, better understanding of yourself, therefore, getting a chance for change both in yourself and in the surrounding reality

• establishing oneself in this world, i.e. "I am," "I exist," "I can influence, I can transform reality".

In my work with clients, I also follow humanistic person-centered and somatic based approach. What resonates with me in the philosophy of the approach could be brought through the following statements:

1. The client is an expert of their own life. Only the client knows their own story, paths they ever walked, goals, strengths or weaknesses, traumas and resources.

2. Body does not lie. All our feelings and emotional states are deeply rooted and reflected in our physiology. The body keeps memories of all of our experiences – either traumatic of resourceful. In this approach to psychotherapy we do pay careful attention to the body’s sensations, feelings and the ways the body moves.

In therapeutic relationships, my role is to provide a safe caring environment and help my clients, both children and adults, to explore their feelings, to raise self-awareness and to discover new coping strategies.

Play is an essential tool for changing perspective and for transformation. In my therapy sessions, we use any those art tools that seem helpful for a certain person on a certain day. It could be drawing, making collage, using musical instruments or voice, moving or clay modeling – whatever inspires you in your journey to your true self. No dance background or artistic experience is required.

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