Rationale and Benefits of Using Play Therapy and Expressive Art Techniques in Supervision

Rationale and Benefits of Using Play Therapy and Expressive Art Techniques in Supervision

Priscilla Rose Prasath (University of Texas at San Antonio, USA) and Lori Copeland (Resilience Integrative Counseling, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4628-4.ch002
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In this chapter, the authors describe creative supervision using play therapy and expressive arts modalities that offer a need driven alternative to the traditional supervisor-driven stage models of supervision. Play therapy and expressive arts supervision strategies are effective at increasing supervisee's awareness of self and others, supporting “out-of-the-box” thinking, opening supervisees' to their own strengths and intuition, and enhancing the supervisory relationship. In an attempt to illustrate the rationale and benefits of using play therapy strategies and expressive arts techniques in supervision, descriptions of various techniques are presented with examples, followed by a discussion on ethical and cultural considerations.
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Play therapy and expressive arts therapy are overlapping and complementary. Central to the definition of play therapy is the principle that the therapeutic powers of play are agents for change in individuals of all ages (Association for Play Therapy, 2020). When these therapeutic powers are integrated into the supervision experience through play therapy interventions and expressive art techniques, the benefits of a richer supervision experience will extend from the developing therapist to clients and their families. Schaefer and Drews (2014) identified twenty specific core agents of change organized into four broad categories of therapeutic powers of play: facilitates communication, fosters emotional wellness, enhances social relationships, and increases personal strengths. Expressive arts represent a therapeutic modality that uses creative and non-verbal mediums to facilitate deeper underlying processes by tapping into the visceral and internal experiences of an individual, as opposed to the cognitive and rational components (Purswell & Stulmaker, 2015). In therapy, expressive arts are meaningful when used to connect with untapped unconscious or implicit experiences and feelings. Creativity is the quality of being innovative, the ability to create, the ability to make new things or think in a new way. Well-designed and purposeful use of nonverbal interventions, including playful interventions, expressive arts, and experiential activities within supervision, may assist in illuminating the dynamics and processes of the supervisory relationship (Drewes & Mullen, 2008).

Play-based interventions encourage new pathways for self-expression, teaching, processing of emotions, and creative problem solving (Schaefer & Drewes, 2014). Modalities of creative expressions include the visual arts, movement, drama, music, writing, and other creative processes that foster profound personal growth and community development (International Expressive Arts Therapy Association, 2012). In clinical practice, the conventional modalities that an expressive arts therapist or play therapist uses are music therapy, art therapy, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy, bibliotherapy, play therapy, and sand tray therapy (PT source). Creativity and arts are considered a birthright of being human (Appalachian Expressive Arts Collective, 2003), however, counseling and supervision disproportionally relies on cognitive and linguistic approaches. Traditionally, clinical supervision has not focused on creativity and the academic arena also has not always been conducive or welcoming to creativity (Carson & Becker, 2004). The use of play and expressive arts therapeutic modalities in the supervision process has been more prominent in the registered play therapist supervision experience, but traditional verbal interaction remains the predominant method in all areas of counselor supervision (Drewes & Mullen, 2008). This chapter will examine how play therapy interventions and expressive arts strategies engage the therapeutic powers of play and creativity to impact specific goals of supervision and processes that shape the supervisory relationship.

Various Expressive Arts Techniques Used in Supervision

Rogers (1957) asserted that experiential learning is the only type of learning that produces effective counseling. The value of experiential activities in learning is reinforced when expressive arts are integrated within supervision as a teaching tool. Due to the non-threatening nature and participatory process of expressive art techniques in supervision (Gladding, 2015), various creative modalities are explored and frequently applied. See appendix table 1 for a list of creative ways through which play and expressive arts can be integrated in supervision. In order to fully understand the effective dynamics of various expressive arts modalities, it is important to first explore the theoretical framework guiding the practice of integrating expressive arts into supervision.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Expressive Arts: The expressive arts combine the visual arts, movement, drama, music, writing and other creative processes to foster deep personal growth and community development (The International Expressive Arts Therapy Association® (IEATA®).

Intermodal Expressive Arts: The practice of using imagery, storytelling, dance, music, drama, poetry, movement, dreamwork, and visual arts together, in an integrated way, to foster human growth, development, and healing. It is about reclaiming our innate capacity as human beings for creative expression of our individual and collective human experience in artistic form.

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