What is Expressive Arts Therapy?

Expressive arts therapy is an integrative art-based practice combining therapeutic approaches with healthy expression, imagination, and play. In the expressive arts settings, different art forms come into play to stimulate imagination and allow people to share their personal narratives, reflect on what is present in their lives, and simply create more wellbeing.

Expressive arts therapy is an integrative art-based practice combining therapeutic approaches with healthy expression, imagination, and play. In the expressive arts settings, different art forms come into play (e.g. mark-making, painting, music-making, movement, performative arts, experimental writing, clay work, photography, or even video-making) to stimulate imagination and allow people to share their personal narratives, reflect on what is present in their lives, and simply create more wellbeing.

In the expressive arts process, something surprising, touching, and beautiful can show itself: an existing resource, an undiscovered quality, or a completely new perspective. In this way, people get an insight into what they need, create more self-understanding, and reconnect with themselves and the world on a deeper level. This can support them in finding more self-worth, building a long-lasting feeling of resilience, and more fulfilling relationships. Finally, they can bring the learnings from the art-based process into daily life and shape their realities in a much more caring and conscious way. That means healthier and happier individuals, families, and communities.

Benefits of Expressive Arts Therapy

  • Increases self-awareness and self-understanding,
  • Helps to discover new resources,
  • Teaches relaxation and body awareness,
  • Increases physical, mental, and emotional flexibility,
  • Helps to deal with difficult experiences,
  • Supports coping mechanisms and builds resilience,
  • Promotes openness to new experiences,
  • Teaches new and healthy ways of self-expression,
  • Explores relationships and improves soft skills,
  • Stimulates creativity and feeds imagination,
  • Excites, inspires, and empowers people to live life more fully.

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Yohaku Art Collective celebrates the space left empty for joyful art creation, a face-to-face encounter with true needs and longings, and active participation in making sustainable and changes using the arts.

In the process of shaping Yohaku, we discovered the concept of yohaku and decided to combine it with the expressive arts methodology. This mash-up became for us a unique way of finding synergies between our inspirations and interests within the fields of fine arts, philosophy, psychology, and creative therapies.

Yohaku is our inclusive art space for wellbeing. Using expressive arts therapy methods, we facilitate positive, nourishing, and sustainable change in individuals, groups, and communities.

10 things we love about Expressive Arts

Below, you can read more about what matters to us the most within the field of intermodal expressive arts therapy.

1. Arts in the center

We believe in a world that recognizes arts and expression as existential aspects of our being human. The space we create through our expressive arts work offers room for each person or group to discover their resources and come to their full potential.

2. Playfulness

As adults, we often forget how it is to play and offer creative pleasure to our tired and restricted bodies. We ask all our clients to cultivate a playful attitude and open up to the possibilities emerging in the creation process. This often leads to more ease, openness, relaxation, and creates a healthy distance from challenging life situations.

3. Time and flow

When we make art, we suspend time and become more present. In the moment of flow lies the potential for something else to arrive: an alternative experience, a touching inspiration, a new possibility, an undiscovered resource. This time is limited, planned, structured and offered to our clients as a gift coming straight from our hearts. It is filled with true attention, resonance, and love for beauty.

4. The quality of space

It is an open, safe, and non-judgmental space that we hold for true expression, daring experimentation, and sensual experiencing. In this space, we go into an art-based investigation and we peel back the many layers of our being in this world. In the creation process, we learn to meet the reality of ourselves with humbleness. This space asks to be experienced with curiosity. It emerges from the creation process, which opens up to us like a living landscape.

The empty space of yohaku is both calming and energizing. It gives our senses a place to relax and rest. On the other hand, it stimulates our imagination and engages us in easy, inspiring, and nourishing activities.

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5. Senses

Empty spaces have their own dynamic vitality and support forms emerging around and from them in becoming truly visible. They literally allow objects and shapes to grow fully into the reality of our senses. In the arts, both the creator and the witness can experience the power of a pause. In a silent space, we can truly feel our bodies and sense what is needed.

6. Intermodality

Human beings can express themselves in different ways and prefer diverse media. This is why we are ready to experiment with various forms of expression. In the space we hold for you, a variety of art forms can come into play, even within one single session. That can include painting, doodling, collaging, sound, movement, elements of performance, storytelling, writing, clay work, and much more. In the creative process and while we switch from one art form to another, something meaningful has a chance to crystallize.

7. Art as an opening

The expression generates internal stillness and invites us to rest and relax into doing. We learn that we can trust the process to guide us through the alternative reality of artistic work. Our internal landscapes can take an organic shape and manifest in the external world. Arts transform and change us through the process of creation and, along the way, we can become more connected to ourselves and others.

8. Progress and change

Things get clearer and more defined as we progress. Change happens naturally, despite fears, assumptions, and judgements about our abilities. And when we come back to reality, we don’t enter through the same door but open a new one within our inner landscape. On the other side of that door, we might see possibilities for a more meaningful life, more fulfilling work, and new, exciting connections.

9. The beauty of the void

Yohaku is a space that has been consciously left empty. It represents a pause or a blank point. It implies a meaning in the absence of words or forms. The emptiness of a white space holds a profound beauty. It is mysterious and it promises unlimited access to an infinite potential that is stored within us. By coming face-to-face with emptiness, we can encounter the in-between space that allows something new to emerge and touch us deeply.

10. The unknown

The space left empty is an in-between zone that invites the unknown. It acknowledges the uncertainty and complexity of life without trying to explain or interpret past or current circumstances. It creates a break in familiar modes of coping with life situations and welcomes surprises.