The field of Expressive Arts Therapy and Education is based on an interdisciplinary approach to the creative arts including movement, dance, drama, visual arts and music. As a practitioner in this field I utilize several art modalities when working with groups or the individual. When we talk of a problem we aren’t necessarily in contact of its emotional context. In order to integrate our feelings we can go beyond the mental understanding through direct movement of the body or a spontaneous drawing which brings hidden knowledge, saved in our body back to consciousness. This process is a constant interplay between our physical, emotional and mental levels expressed through art. This active interplay provides a context in which people can explore, deepen and expand their creative resources to develop new skills in their personal and professional lives.
Tamalpa Institute, founded in 1978, offers training programs and workshops in the Halprin Life/Art Process, a movement-based healing arts approach that integrates movement/dance, visual arts, performance techniques and therapeutic practices. This approach supports personal, interpersonal and social transformation, teaching new models for health, psychology, art and communication.
This work was originated in the 1950’s by Anna Halprin, who is among the first pioneers in the contemporary Western world to use dance as a healing and transformative art. In the 1970’s, Daria Halprin further developed the artistic and therapeutic aspects of this work and articulated the methodology that is currently taught in their programs.
The Halprin Life/Art Process is an integrated approach that explores the interplay between the inherent knowledge of the body and its creative connection to our life stories.
The focus on the body, movement and the expressive arts as a healing approach is based on the premise that the imprints of life events are housed within the body. When remaining at the unconscious level, these imprints may lead to imbalance and conflict; when explored and expressed consciously and creatively, the connection between body, mind and emotion make a vital contribution to the artful development of the self.
TOOLS OF THE HALPRIN LIFE/ART PROCESS
The Body: the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels of the body are interconnected. We live in and through our bodies. The body contains and reveals our entire life experience. It is only through the body that we can come to know ourselves and the world. It is only through the body that we can change.
Movement is the body’s primary language. It is in movement that we express our personality and our conditioning. Movement channels feeling and evokes feeling. Movement takes us inward and outward, to deep places of suffering and joy. Movement is the mother of all of the arts. All of life is movement.
Drawing challenges us to grapple with and shape our images. Drawings hold the memory of movements and feelings after they have vanished from time and space. Drawings are gifts from our imagination that helps us see and give meaning to our experience.
Dialogue: finding the words, speaking them, writing them, bringing Aesthetics back into our language. As we find and shape our words, we become storytellers and poets of our inner and outer stories.
Improvisation: learning to play, seriously, intensely, spontaneously, taking risks, experimenting, committing to what’s happening, being fully in the moment, letting go of judgements and attachment to an outcome. We stay open, willing to be surprised, nothing is a mistake, everything becomes workable and we work creatively with whatever comes up.
Performance is the metaphor for coming forward, coming out, being seen, communicating with others with all of our senses. We meet stage fright and excitement, our inhibitions and breakthroughs, meeting the eyes of the world, connecting the personal story with the collective story.
Reflection: What is my art telling me? How is it connected to my life? What am I learning? What would I like to do differently? What’s in the way? We can change ourselves.
“Art-making is a place of deep listening, a landscape of symbols and metaphors that nourish and transform our lives.” -Daria Halprin