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Sharing Within an Expressive Arts Group

Updated: Jul 14, 2019

Sharing brings forth the participant's/group's personal findings, insights, surprises, and exploration of the art work (creative writing, drawing, painting, music making, body movement, and transitions between them). The art making is NOT analysed or dissected for possible underlying meanings, as in an arts therapy clinical setting. In Expressive Arts, we look at the product and process of the art making, and sometimes the process of the art making becomes the most important aspect of the experience for the participant, or the very idea of getting together as a group to feel a sense of belonging or community. Exploration, discovery, and surprises, become the methods in which we can connect with others in the group, receive insight about our relationships at home, work, and leisure, reveal where we want to go in life, change directions, or move through life's losses, transitions, and change with clearer vision and hope.

In a group setting, participants are invited to share in partners, three's, and as a group. However, NO ONE is forced to share. There may be things too personal to share, an individual may not be ready to share out of shyness, or fear of judgement when trust has not been experienced yet within the group atmosphere. It is important that I, as the facilitator, make this clear at the beginning of the session(s), to set participants at ease, and enable them to explore the idea of sharing on their own terms. It is important to let the whole group know that if they don't want to share verbally, to be respectful of those who wish to do so, and to embrace listening to others attentively in order to gain the most interior insight from the Expressive Arts experience.

At times, it takes a few sessions with the same people in a group, before a timid member begins to trust the facilitator and other group dynamics as non-judgemental and begin to share a little bit at a time.

When sharing in pairs, and as a group, it is important for the one speaking to be "heard". What this means is that everyone else listens attentively and therefore becomes a "witness" to the group member's process and product as well as their discoveries and surprises. The harvest is invitational upon the questions of curiosity and inquiry from the facilitator. The facilitator models open and non-judgemental questions to the participant who is sharing, which in turn, opens up the group to respond to the experience of that individual with further curiosity and insights in relation to their own experiences. Ex. "I noticed that you used large arm movements in circles when you were moving around the room, tell us a little more about did that make you feel?" Here, we avoid judging that the individual's movement meant she felt free or happy. For she could have felt frantic and out of control instead! Our perceptions may not be the experience of the process and product of that participant. If the woman voiced that she was feeling frantic when overwhelmed in her life, someone may respond, "I feel frantic too when I have too many projects on the go in my life".

With the groups I am working with at the moment, it takes a couple of sessions to get a feel for the non-judgemental Expressive Arts experience, as growing up we have been trained to be very critical of ourselves and our creative endeavours. However, the Expressive Arts setting is a place to imagine, create, and explore without the pressures of our critical selves, or the critical world around us.

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