Art & Eating Disorders: Expressive Arts Therapy
in the Treatment of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders (ED) and body image issues affect 20 million women and 10 million men in the US alone. No doubt, as a clinician, you have already worked with someone who is affected by eating disorders, or you will. I have focused my practice on working with eating disorders and body image issues for 25 years, and Emily Rich specializes in this as well. We are thrilled to be launching our workshop on using Expressive Arts Therapy with Eating Disorders.
Why Expressive Arts Therapy?
Here are a few of many good reasons:
Create + Express
We begin with creativity. Creativity is about bringing something new into being. When one is creative, they are using their imagination, generating ideas, and recognizing new ways to see (themselves, others, the world), do (make choices, take action), and be (live).
Creative expression is, like it sounds, expressing oneself in the creative process. Expressive Arts uses a multi-modality creative arts approach, offering visual, writing, movement, music, and drama as modes of expression.
Eating disorders are also an expression.
The symptoms of ED express anxiety, pain, trauma, and other emotional content. Given the opportunity to express emotional content creatively and safely, the ED can be understood through a different lens, and can be expressed and processed.
Freedom + Authenticity
There is a great deal of focus on perfectionism in our culture, and that can manifest as eating and body image issues. The expressive arts provide a model for judgement-free, authentic creative experiences. The process, as well as the product are valued in expressive arts experiences. Engaging in this process can help one to experience some freedom from perfectionism, and the possibility of applying that experience to other parts of life.
Safety + Meaning
At the heart of expressive arts therapy are creative freedom and psychological safety. Providing a safe space for clients to explore their pain is paramount and is a core value of our curriculum at NWCEAI. In relation to ED, this is incredibly important. When recovering from an ED, the question “Who will I be without my ED?” comes up often, as clients explore identity as they heal. Expressive Arts Therapy provides a safe way to explore identity by increasing self-awareness, and finding symbols that help to create meaning beyond the ED.
We hope you’ll join us for our workshop, Expressive Arts Therapy in the Treatment of Eating Disorders. Register here!
In Level 1 of our workshop, expressive arts experiences will explore how culture, family of origin, and life experiences can manifest as an eating disorder using a visual timeline, promoting problem-solving in treatment using a 3D arts process, working with emotions visually and somatically, and more. In our exploration we’ll use: Collage, Drawing, Expressive Writing, 3D Assemblage, & Movement.
Sibel Golden, PhD, LMHC, REAT