The Expressive Arts Therapist has specialized training and experience in using a variety of artistic forms and processes in the assessment and treatment of the emotional, cognitive, somatic and social functioning of individuals. The Expressive Arts Therapist may practice within the fields of health, education, community service and private practice settings. The Expressive Arts Therapist takes into account a person’s life experiences which includes their social, cultural and spiritual background.
Within the therapeutic relationship, the Expressive Arts Therapist helps the client to access and stimulate their imagination by shifting from one art form to another. This concept of “intermodal transfer” (Paolo Knill, 1978) distinguishes Expressive Arts Therapy from disciplines that specialize in one art form such as Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Dance Therapy, or Psychodrama. Expressive Arts Therapists support clients to move between different art forms such as visual arts, movement, poetry, music, and drama to enrich the imaginative process and gain greater self-awareness. Reflection on the art making process within the therapeutic relationship is essential in helping clients to gain insight, resolve conflicts, solve problems, and formulate new perceptions that may lead to change, growth and healing.
An OEATA member who is an Expressive Arts Therapist is a professional with qualifications from an OEATA recognized arts-based psychotherapy program which adheres to standards set forth by Ontario regulating bodies such as the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MCTU). Other graduate and post-graduate degrees from recognized colleges and university programs (or equivalent) may also be considered as qualifications.
Following the OEATA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, the member may only practice in those areas of the profession’s scope for which they have the necessary education, training, and experience. Through continuing education, members develop and maintain their skills in accordance with the best practices of their profession. It is the member’s responsibility to understand, through self-reflection and supervision, what they can and cannot competently do.
The Expressive Arts Therapist can be in private practice and/or part of the care team working in health care organizations such as hospitals, chronic care facilities, rehabilitation centers, or hospices. In addition, the Expressive Arts Therapist can be found working in schools, social and community agencies, institutions, and corporations.
The Ontario College of Registered Psychotherapists
OEATA is working to align itself and all of it’s members with the governing regulations of the College of Registered Psychotherapists.