Expressive Arts Therapy vs singing in the shower

When art and psychotherapy are joined, the scope and depth of each can be expanded, and when working together, they are tied to the continuities of humanity’s history of healing. â€”Shaun McNiff, The Arts and Psychotherapy

(An article with a quote, how original.)

In my previous blog I had written a brief about Expressive Arts Therapy. I plan on delving a little more into the workings and the effectiveness of this practice.

Expressive Arts helps us foster healing and resolve conflict. From journaling, (yes maintaining a diary has proven to be helpful. Wimpy Kid knew better.) dancing, drawing, improv, to poetry writing or narration, there are a lot that fall under Expressive Arts. Fundamentally, anything that one uses to express themselves with.

So what is the difference between, I don’t know, a 3rd grader’s recess time and an entire school of therapy? What makes expressive arts therapy a therapeutic practice?

I had mentioned in my previous blog that the therapy is about the process and not the end result. Coming from an over achieving family, I know how having everything you do evaluated, can hamper your world view, growth and your performance. My drawing from second grade didn’t make it up on the fridge because I didn’t colour within the lines (and we didn’t own any…. fridge magnets). So drawing, in this situation, isn’t about expressing yourself and feeling good, but it’s about making it up on the fridge or the soft board in class.

So the moment one is pushed to simply express their feelings, the act of drawing has already become their safe haven. So ‘drawing’, becomes an aid for expression. A tool to release anxiety, to make peace or resolve problems, because what is creative is therapeutic and what is therapeutic is almost always, a creative process.

In Expressive Arts Therapy, art isn’t used to diagnose and treat people. (That’s Art Therapy.) Here, art is a tool to explore your inner realms of your consciousness. The process is solely emotional and intuitive. Singing ‘Mr.Brightside’ at the top of your lungs on your way to work is therapeutic for you. It helps clear your mind or helps you cope with road rage.

That’s what Expressive Arts Therapy is about. Letting go. Expressing. Additionally we study, analyse and gain insight from your creative piece about your emotions and thoughts. This we do by looking at messages or cues that will be portrayed by clients in their creative pieces, subconsciously.

Indian authors and their refreshing stories

In March, when the lockdown was imposed, I decided to bring back my ancient habit of reading. After browsing through over a hundred book reviews I had finally decided on the books that I would read this lockdown.

Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things’, Amish Tripathi’s ‘The Shiva Trilogy’, and Devdutt Pattanaik’s ‘Myth=Mythia’. Now, I know I’m a little too late to jump into the “Indian writers” bandwagon, but isn’t it better to be late than not jump at all?

I started with the famous Tripathi Trilogy. I’ve always been that child who was engrossed with her Amar Chithra Kathas. The trilogy definitely outdid my childhood favourites. It is the perfect mix of fact, fiction, and imagination. The explorative blend between the heroic yet human conflict, the sweeping romance, and the mythical facts and references makes this a delightful read.

My next read was Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things’. I am truly enthralled by the way the concept of desire is so subtly THROWN at your face! I love how the book explores Indian history, politics, and of course the infamous Indian society. I had goosebumps at the end of this and a little part of me is locked away with the book.

Then Pattanaik’s ‘Myth=Mythia’. Now this was my Everest. This man decodes Indian Mythology in a book. I mean that’s a massive project! Centuries and centuries of Hindu philosophy – condensed, profiling of characters from Hindu Epics and Mythology, and an introduction to the Holy books of Hinduism- The Vedas, The Upanishads, Mahabharatha and Ramayana. Almost like a psychological analysis of the Puranas. It is a simple read with complex content that is unknotted with such ease and precision.

These books added some spice and speed to my lockdown days. What have your go-to genres/authors been this lockdown?