Talk therapy undoubtedly has its place. For me, both personally and professionally, it had its limitations. Empathy and being understood is a powerful component that allows for change to happen. But the combination of an empathetic and warm therapeutic relationship that includes multi-modal expressive arts brings a whole new level of healing that goes deeper. To play with a strap-line from a popular beer ad that used to run when I was a much younger person “it refreshes the parts other therapies can’t reach”.
I stumbled across this article from Psychology Today written by Amanda Ann Gregory, LCPC this morning. Her analogy of a ladder reminds me of Dan Seigal’s “upstairs-downstairs” brain. It explains in simple terms how healing happens and how using a sensory approach – head, heart and hands combined – brings a more comprehensive approach towards healing complex trauma.
Here’s a link to the full article entitled How Bottom-Up Treatment Can Address Trauma
When a trauma response is being activated, the upstairs brain goes offline and the downstairs brain takes over. Understanding that we need to start at Stair 1 if we are to adequately address the underlying trauma is important. Otherwise we are only patching up at the surface level. Healing comes through somatic and sensory avenues not just through our thoughts. The expressive arts therapy model that uses a multi-modal approach recognizes that to find peace within we must address the whole person and not just their thoughts using a multi-modal approach: sensorimotor art, sandplay, symbol work, music, dance, movement, clay, expression through paint, colour, shapes and touch connect us with those parts that talk therapy alone doesn’t reach.