The expressive therapies give individuals an opportunity to tap into their emotions through various modes of expression. Activities such as art, design, music, cooking, dance, and creative movement, allow one to “play” out his/her emotions. Engagement in these types of activities is non-restrictive and often feels very liberating. This, in turn, can encourage emotions to surface that may not otherwise be understood on a conscious level.
At Spire, we understand that verbal expression is only one form of communication. We therefore provide our students with a range of expressive modalities imbedded throughout our group curricula. For example, many exercises within the Spire self-exploratory group, Know Thyself, involve creative expression in the form of art, music, acting, and cooking. In addition, our smaller process groups focus on a specific theme where students can elect to participate in a therapeutic activity of their choice. Our process groups have consisted of culinary therapy, art therapy, journaling, psychology in the media, social skills, and film studies.
We feel that our work with students is only part of the puzzle. The Spire model is therefore strongly based on a holistic approach where family involvement is crucial to student success. In an effort to bridge parent/child communication, we offer family art therapy and culinary therapy workshops throughout the year. These activities provide adolescents and their parents an opportunity to communicate in a less direct, non-threatening environment. Through working together to create a meal or a piece of art, these workshops give families the opportunity to connect with one another while enjoying each other’s company and sharing a positive experience.
The transformative power of the expressive therapies is further explored in sandplay therapy. This modality, like many of the expressive therapies, gives individuals a non-verbal form of expression. Through the use of sand, water, and miniatures, individuals can construct images and scenes within the sand tray. Over time, the construction of these sand creations and their resulting symbolic imagery promotes healing and transformation.