Expressive Therapies Art and Movement

Art and movement therapies are considered "expressive" because they help you explore how and why you use your body to communicate inner issues. Expressive techniques are also excellent tools to break through barriers to physical self-acceptance and help overcome body image distortion and body hatred.

Art therapy projects are "hands on" and involve the world of your imagination. You may find yourself making a "body map," filling in an outline of a body with paints, markers, crayons, drawing shapes, writing "feeling" words inside that outline. Or you may be asked to imagine a container into which you'll place the negative "stuff" that makes you uncomfortable in your body and contributes to your negative body image. You then make the actual container and its contents. Perhaps you'll create a photo album with images of you at various stages of your life, including a time in the future.

What often happens with these kinds of therapies is that feelings and beliefs that are difficult to verbalize become more clear by taking artistic form. Also, your art therapist can point out any symbols and patterns in your work as well as how integrated the images become as you heal. You can choose to discuss whatever emerges during the art therapy sessions or during your individual or group therapy sessions.

Movement therapy releases feelings in your body. Although most of us label something as a "feeling" when it pops up in our heads, movement therapists teach you to focus on the literal feelings that exist in the body. Since people with eating disorders are usually afraid of sensations felt in the body, movement therapists can help you overcome those fears. You learn to locate the emotions in your body, express them through movement, take the risk to become visible, and feel safe when you are.

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