Couples Therapy

Expressive Arts Therapy

Expressive arts is a way of supporting people (of all
ages) to express, understand and discover while using experiential mediums such as paint, writing, drawing, photography, movement, music, crafting etc. This page will give you a little more information on using expressive arts as an adjunct to therapy and as a way of supporting the changes and solutions you are looking for.

Expressive Arts is a Little Different from Art Therapy:

  • Expressive arts uses many different ways for people to do the work of reflection and change. Expressive arts also uses something called the intermodal process.

  • The Intermodal process means:

    • using multiple mediums in one session in order to gain a deeper understanding. For example, you might start by creating an image and then you may write about the image or you may start by listening to some music and creating a drawing in response.

  • Expressive arts can be helpful for all ages (children and adults alike!) and all stages. You don't need to be an artist or even to think you are creative. All you need is a little bit of curiosity and an open mind. It can be as simple as starting with scribbles or creating a mini sculpture with pipe cleaners.


How is expressive arts going to help me with my mental health? When clients use expressive arts in session, often times, they are surprised at what they notice and what comes to their awareness. Expressive arts can help people transform an emotional response (e.g. anxiety to calm). Express arts can help people put into images or art feelings and thoughts that are difficult to put into words. Expressive arts can also help take an experience that feels scary and big and make it into a tangible creation that isn't as overwhelming.

Clay Artist
Couples Therapy
Artist Painting


Expressive arts can be used occasionally during sessions as an adjunct, an additional way to process thoughts, feelings, experiences. It can also be used as the main technique of your counselling process. You and your therapist can discuss what this can look like and find the right fit for you.

Expressive Arts Therapy FAQs

What is covered in this Expressive Arts Therapy?

Expressive arts focuses on:

  1. Exploring, understanding and discovering thoughts, feelings, and behaviours using experiential methods such as drawing, painting, writing, crafting, music, movement, etc.
  2. Expressive arts focuses on bringing awareness to your inner experience in order to make changes and come to resolutions.
  3. Expressive arts focuses on the process of creating and the created thing as a way of learning new skills, new ideas, and new knowledge

What are the benefits of Expressive Arts Therapy?

The benefits of expressive arts is that it offers another way of expressing and understand your experience. It can give you insights into thoughts and feelings that are difficult to get to in a more traditional talk therapy session. Expressive arts can also be a medium that supports people who are less verbal, need more time to process their experiences, or who enjoy being creative.

How does it work?

If you are interested in expressive arts, your therapist will start off by getting to know you and the type of creativity you feel most comfortable with. Your therapist will invite you to be curious as you create. The art is not graded and there is no expected outcome, the process of creating is just as important and the product (the thing you create). There is no one way to expressive arts. Your therapist will work with you to ensure you are able to explore your creativity in a safe manner.

How will Expressive Arts Therapy help?

Expressive arts therapy can be used to treat children, adolescents and adults. We offer expressive arts as an adjunct to other methods of therapy and as the main method depending on the right fit.

Are there any clinical concerns I should be aware of?

Expressive arts is not harmful, but may bring awareness to vulnerable parts. If you carry internal stories that block art making and your creativity, it could be challenging at first to engage in expressive arts. You therapist will work with you to understand any areas that are
more challenging and work with you to create safety and find the right fit.

Expressive arts is an appropriate treatment for past traumas however must be facilitated by someone with adequate training, experience, and/or supervision.

When should Expressive Arts Therapy be applied?

Expressive arts has been thoroughly researched and found to be supportive for many different challenges and difficulties. Amongst those are:

  • Issues with confidence and self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Grief and loss
  • Trauma
  • Social and emotional issues

What steps can I take to ensure this method is most effective?

The most important thing to know is that you do not need to be an artist or necessarily even see yourself as a creative person. All you need is an open mind and little bit of curiosity. If you have an idea of what type of art you like the most and the least that can help find a place to start, but this isn't necessary.

Get Expressive Arts Therapy in Calgary

If you are unsure whether we can meet your  counselling or assessment needs give us a call to receive a free consultation. You can then decide whether we are a good fit for you or your family.