The Tools I Work With
Movement-based Expressive Arts Therapy
Movement-based expressive arts therapy is a primary tool I use in my practice. It is essentially using the arts for healing, but not in an art therapy sense. Instead, we use what tools seem important in the moment, based on the client’s needs today, and we use them to interact with one another. It is a vibrant process of dialogue between movement, drawing, writing, and other expressive tools. And it is an excellent way to avoid the blocks found in most talk therapy and cognitive work.
Clients need not have any previous experience with the arts or dance, nor an interest in becoming an artist or dancer. If you aren’t “good” at art, or aren’t very graceful with movement, this tool will probably be all the more effective for you. In contrast, if you are skilled at art, dance, or writing, this tool will be used differently than you’ve experienced art, dance, or writing before.
An example of this modality is as follows: We turn on some non-descript music and you begin in any position you like, moving the body when it wants to move, or with me guiding you into one of your body parts to support some exploration. After some time exploring a particular theme, motif, body part, or your spontaneous gestures or movements, I guide you into relocating the experience into drawing. This may be followed by a dialogue you’d write between pieces of your drawing, me moving your drawing for you, you moving your drawing, or you writing a title for your drawing and naming it as such.
It really is quite a dynamic process that is often deeply felt and very liberating for the client. Every single situation is completely different, guided and grounded, informed by exactly where you are, and carefully held.
Shadow Work and Active Imagination
Shadow Work is a tool we’ll use to bring what’s “unconscious” (or out of your awareness) to light. The shadow is an interesting archetype, or universal symbol. The shadow contains images, symbols, and stories that include every problem and its answer. It contains those positive things you can’t accept about yourself, and those negative things that you don’t believe you are. It is based upon the idea that every single person possesses all of the possible characteristics of a human being, but no one is everything all at once.
Where do we put all of the things that we, our parents, our friends, or our teachers do not want us to be? We put it in the shadow. Out of awareness. And there it gains a tremendous amount of power, and emerges every-so-often in sideways or backwards ways, leaving us wondering, “What got into me? Who was that? It certainly wasn’t me, but I did it.”
Shadow work entails bringing the shadow elements and characters to light, accepting them, and even welcoming them, thus reducing their power to negatively control us (through symptoms, intense emotions, etc.). We do shadow work with some or all of the tools listed on this page, and with active imagination.
Active Imagination was developed first by C.G. Jung in his personal healing work. We work with shadow materials using the various tools of artistic dialogue to communicate with our inner resources and move toward understanding. Some people call this shamanic journeying or body-centered therapy. It is, in my opinion, the best way to work with shadow material, and includes movement-based expressive arts therapy.
Sandtray, Active Imagination, Dance Therapy, and Dreamwork
Sandtray therapy is a method of shadow work which uses little figurines arranged in a small tray of sand. It is essentially doing dreamwork while awake. When you select objects and arrange them in any manner you wish, a story unfolds which directly informs us about the unconscious world, our troubles, and our solutions.
Dance therapy is the method of using body movement, sensation, and gesture to work with unconscious material. The body holds so many secrets and answers…and dance therapy is an excellent way to unearth these treasures. I like to use dance therapy techniques in conjunction with other tools listed on this page, but it is also extremely effective on its own as it avoids the blocks that the mind and talking can sometimes create.
Dreamwork is a wonderful tool for tending your nighttime dream world. I’ll show you how to remember and record your dreams and we will work with them in their own special language, interacting with them through artistic means such as drawing, gesture, poetry, dialogue, and other modalities. The dreamworld is alive and offers many solutions to our problems.
We can use any of these therapeutic tools (and others not named) in any order we see fit. It is a moving dialogue we’ll develop as we work together. I am happy to take the lead on selecting the tools, or we can use whatever you’re most draw to. Our job together is to identify and work with whatever the soul is asking us to heal, and this is accomplished through the journey of shadow, the arts, and psychology.
Depth Psychology, plus Jungian, Humanistic, and Imaginal Psychologies
My work is heavily informed by the tradition of depth psychology. James Hillman defined depth psychology as “the modern field whose interest is in the unconscious levels of the psyche – that is, the deeper meanings of the soul.” Depth psychology focuses on working with the psyche, soul, spirit, and unconscious of the person, in the context of the larger mythology and world environment, in a therapeutic setting. I most aptly find guidance in the work of psychoanalyst C. G. Jung, mythologist Joseph Campbell, and psychotherapist James Hillman.
Jungian psychology is the field of work which includes the archetypes, collective unconscious, symbols, mythology, active imagination, dream tending, and all things shadow. C. G. Jung developed this work and it continues today through various Jungian analysts and organizations.
My work is also informed by humanistic psychology as developed by Carl Rogers. The basis of this work is empathic listening, unconditional positive regard, and acceptance. It is human-centered and focuses on the relationship between the people involved. Humanistic psychology supports therapeutic work in that the client is fully accepted by the therapist, and thus tends to trust the therapist and the process so deeply that healing more easily occurs.
Lastly, I am very much influenced by imaginal psychology. At Pacifica and Tamalpa, in practicum, and in my practice, I see things through the lens of the imagination. The imagination not only connects us to our inner workings, but also to what Jung called the “collective unconscious” – which is the pool of symbolic information that humans have shared over the millenia. The imagination is a fascinating and informative aspect of every human being, and tapping into it can have vast effects on feeling alive, hopeful, and able once again. If you have a heart beat, your imagination can be called upon for its healing remedies.