“What is Expressive Arts?”

I have been asked this question many times, and it makes me smile every time, because then I get to explain it! Expressive arts encompasses a wide range of art forms such as visual arts like painting or printmaking, poetry, music, movement, and much more. All of these modes of expression can support the therapeutic process. As you may have experienced, words can be limiting. Often times our words alone cannot fully capture the emotions we are feeling. Entering into an expressive mode allows you to move beyond words and connect to your soul self.

Now I know that for many people the words “expressive arts” might sound intimidating. Perhaps you think “I can’t draw” or “I’m not an artist”, and you would not be alone, many people feel the same way. The real beauty of using art in therapy is that you do no have to be a skilled artist, in fact skill doesn’t matter in this setting. What matters is the process, allowing yourself to experience art in a new way, as a mode of expression where the product is not the goal, instead the objective is to learn from the process. Another great thing about this process that may be different than other experiences is that there is no right or wrong to do it, when you are the creator there are no limitations. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say “I messed up”… my reaction is always the same, I reply “There are no mistakes in art, only surprises!”

This week if your feeling blue or stuck on a problem here are a couple of things you can do to rejuvenate yourself and engage in an art process:

  • Grab a pen and paper and doodle, don’t think just doodle. This is a great way to rid yourself of distractions and find focus before starting a new project.
  • Dig your hands into some dirt or clay, and really notice how it feels. This is a great way to ground yourself.
  • Write a haiku. A haiku is a short poem with only three lines. Line one is five syllables, line two is seven syllables, and line three is five syllables. This is a fun way to extract all the excess parts of a thought and hone in on the most important pieces.
  • Turn on your favorite song, get up and dance around your house, act like a fool, laugh at yourself, and breathe a sigh of relief. This is a great way to release stress!


Sarah Peck is the Graduate Counseling Intern with in the Stepping Stones program at Step By Step Counseling, LLC.