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Title: Expressive arts therapy in support groups for bereaved adults in a hospice setting
Authors: Harris, Teresa
Keywords: expressive arts therapies;EXAT;bereavement;support groups;social work
Issue Date: 4-Sep-2019
Abstract: Expressive Arts Therapies (EXAT) may be seen as a new practice but can be traced back to the very beginnings of human existence and have been found on all continents and within most cultures around the world. Since earliest recordings of man, art-making has been used to make amends, rehabilitate, and transform a person in holistic ways affecting the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of a person leading to health and overall wellbeing. EXAT can combine the visual arts, movement, drama, music, writing, and other creative processes to foster deep personal growth and community development. EXAT can also be a guided spiritual journey and process-oriented intervention with the role of the therapist as the guide into a safe space for the client to experience integration of the arts. These approaches are convergent with social work practice, which requires creative problem solving, whereby creativity is used effectively to shape, mold, influence and uncover unrealized potential in clients. Expressive Arts Therapy also aligns with social work practice in its theoretical underpinnings, stemming from humanistic, clientcentered perspectives. The advanced practicum described herein involved an 8-week Expressive Arts course followed by facilitation of two bereavement support groups in hospice using Expressive Arts Therapy. Some of the Expressive Arts themes explored during the 8-week course and then implemented within bereavement support groups in hospice included: Introduction to Expressive Arts; Exploring Relationships; Stories from the Field; Expressive Arts Modalities; Mindful Music and Movement in Expressive Arts; Planning Expressive Arts Experiences; Professional Issues within Expressive Arts; Sand Tray; and Writing within Expressive Arts. EXAT can be a very effective therapeutic approach in support of those grieving the death of a loved one. With the knowledge, skills, and experience I have gained throughout this advanced practicum, I will be able to confidently incorporate EXAT into my practice when working with individuals, groups, and communities. Whether supporting bereaved individuals or facilitating bereavement groups, or holding memorial services in the community, EXAT is an effective process legitimized by evidence-based research, supporting clients as they participate in the creative process that can lead to positive change and emancipation. Expressive arts can be integrated into social work as complementary or alternative forms of expression, therapy, and healing aimed at individual and group change and among many populations in support of a wide array of issues. In combining art and activism, social workers using expressive arts can draw public attention to many issues of social concern. Expressive arts also have a place within social work research, using modalities such as photovoice and performance inquiry.
Appears in Collections:Social Work - Master's Major Papers

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