The arts have consistently been part of life as well as healing throughout the history of humankind. There are numerous references within medicine, anthropology, and the arts to the earliest healing applications of expressive modalities. For example, the Egyptians are reported to have encouraged people with mental illness to engage in artistic activity; the Greeks used drama and music for its reparative properties; and the story of King Saul in the Bible describes music’s calms attributes. Later, in Europe during the Renaissance, English physician and writer Robert Burton theorized that imagination played a role in health and well-being, while Italian philosopher de Feltre proposed that dance and play were central to children’s healthy growth and development.
The creative arts therapies became more widely known during the 1930s and 1940s when psychotherapists and artists began to realize that self-expression through nonverbal methods such as painting, music making or movement might be helpful for people with severe mental illness.
Within the domain of expressive therapies exists a set of individual approaches, defined as follows:
- Art therapy
- Music therapy
- Drama therapy
- Dance/movement therapy
- Poetry therapy
- Play therapy
- Sandplay therapy
- Integrated arts approach or intermodal, that involves two or more expressive therapies to foster awareness, encourage emotional growth, and enhance relationships with others. Intermodal therapy distinguishes itself from its closely allied disciplines of these therapies by being grounded in the interrelatedness of the arts. It is based on a variety of orientations, including arts as therapy, art psychotherapy, and the use of arts for traditional healing (Knill, Barba & Fuchs, 1995, cit in Malchiodi, 2005).
From: Malchiodi, C. (2005). Expressive Therapies. New York, The Guilford Press