Expressive Arts Therapy

When griping grief the heart doth wound, and doleful dumps the mind oppresses, then music, with her silver sound, with speedy help doth lend redress.

William Shakespeare, English Dramatist and poet (1564 – 1616)


The connections between the mind, body, and spirit, and their link to our state of well-being is mysterious and the food for speculation and theories. What is true, however, is that art touches our lives at a profound level. It is sometimes hard to quantify how art brings hope and healing to those in physical, emotional, mental or spiritual crisis, but speaking from my own experiences, art has had a tremendous positive effect in my life.

As a trauma and abuse survivor, I know that one of the most harmful outcomes of abusive situations is the victims inability to express their feelings: the pain, humiliation, helplessness, sadness, confusion and anger. In my case, I found my sense of power and strength taken away from me, leaving me as a paralyzed child, with all my emotions bottled up inside, ready to explode. Unable to verbalize these feelings, I found an outlet through Art. The very act of creating helped me to release my emotions and conflicts, putting me on the road to recovery and healing (Cavaciuti, 2001).

There is a growing belief in the healing power of art, with major health care institutions across the country recognizing the power of the arts, in all their modalities, to provide messages promoting healing and a sense of community (Ridenour, 1998). The therapeutic effects can range from lowering stress levels, to faster recovery times, reduced need for pain medications, and increase social interactions. The process of creating relaxes and rejuvenates those struggling with life’s challenges and illnesses, providing a safe format to articulate emotions, resolve problems, cope with depression, bereavement, divorce, trauma and addictions.

In essence, it is a meditation that connects us to ourselves and to others. Regarding the role of art in therapy,  “I believe that the primary purpose of Art is to heal,” explained Ridley. “That the artist expresses not only their feelings and emotions, but their journey through their suffering from the pit of despair to the realization that they are loved, so that the viewer is uplifted and inspired to positively view and express their own journey, which in turn will inspire others.”


Cavaciuti, S. (2001). Someone HurtMe.Bloomingdale, IL: Enhancement Books.

Ridenour, A. (1998, February). Creativity and the Arts in Health Care Settings. Journal of the American Medical Association.

  • Featured Books

    Someone Hurt Me encourages children with histories of trauma and/or abuse to work through their feelings and aids them in the healing process. Its vivid illustrations and empathetic text provide a graphic focus for their emotions and helps them articulate how they feel. Paperback 48 pages.

     Insights: Arts and Poetry by Consumers/Survivors with Trauma, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Problems. Insights is a collection of Arts and Poetry by consumers/survivors with trauma, mental health and substance abuse problems. Paperback 108 pages.

    More Books