Shadow work is the process of making the unconscious conscious. In doing so, we gain awareness of our unconscious impulses and can then choose whether and how to act on them.
Creative arts therapies are based on the premise that when someone works creatively under the guidance of a qualified therapist, they become more expressive and communicative. This raises their awareness of issues and brings impetus for change. The creative work can involve music, art, dance, movement, and other creative activities. Some of these are described in more detail below.
What is music therapy?
According to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA):
"Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program" (2008).
A music therapist utilizes music to address the emotional/psychological, cognitive, physical, and social needs of the client.
Music therapy begins with a thorough assessment to identify the client's strengths and areas of need. After the assessment, the music therapist manages the role of music in the therapeutic process, the relationship between the client and the therapist, and the approaches and interventions tailored to meet the needs of the client.
What is art therapy?
The American Art Therapy Association , Inc. states:
"Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of individuals of all ages" (2008).
The premise is that the creative process allows for artistic self-expression which helps individuals solve conflicts, manage behavior, improve self-esteem, develop self-awareness and insight, manage stress, and develop interpersonal skills. The art therapy process integrates theories of human development, the use of visual arts, and the process of creating.
Art therapy is used in a variety of settings, including hospitals, wellness centers, clinics, community agencies, education institutions, and private practices. Art therapists assess and treat children, adolescents, adults, and older adults, as individuals, groups, or families. The creative process incorporates drawing, painting, sculpting, and various other media to meet the needs and preferences of the individual or group.
What is dance/movement therapy?
TheAmerican Dance Therapy Associationdefines dance/movement therapy as:
"The psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration of the individual" (2008).
The focus of the therapeutic process is the movement that emerges within the therapeutic relationship. This movement simultaneously serves as the material for assessment and as the means of developing therapeutic interventions.
Dance/movement therapists use communicative, expressive, and adaptive behaviors and interactions in treating both groups and individuals. The registered dance therapist adapts the approach to meet the individualized and specialized needs of any group or individual. Dance/movement therapy is offered in a variety of mental health centers; educational, forensic, and medical settings; nursing homes; day care centers; and private practice.
What is drama therapy?
The North American Drama Therapy Association states:
"Drama therapy is the intentional use of drama and/or theater processes to achieve therapeutic goals" (2010).
Drama therapists may incorporate improvision, theater games, enactment, and storytelling, depending on the client's needs, interests, and abilities. Drama therapy is practiced in schools, hospitals, private practice facilities, nursing homes, and shelters, among others. According to the NADT, "Drama therapy is active and experiential. This approach can provide the context for participants to tell their stories, set goals and solve problems, express feelings, or achieve catharsis."
How do creative arts therapies benefit health and wellbeing?
Creative arts therapies share a commitment to the "expressive action that engages emotions in a direct and physical way; an ability to generate creative energy as a healing force for mind, body, and spirit; and a belief that the creative imagination can find its way through out most perplexing and complex problems and conflicts" (McNiff, 2005).
Each therapy is influenced by its unique medium or art form, giving it the flexibility to meet the complex needs of each client. While commonalities exist among the various therapies, there are also a myriad of differences.