Expressive Arts Therapy

Samantha Sherer  

(416) 459-1907  

How arts-based psychotherapy works:

Expressive Arts Therapy incorporates concepts and techniques from Art therapy, Music therapy, Drama therapy, Dance therapy, Mindfulness, Counselling and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.  Artwork is done just to the side of the issue at hand.  In either groups or one-on-one situations, underlying issues are addressed (i.e. dealing with conflict, body image and low self-esteem) but we look at them from a very different perspective.  Often our stories are told over and over again, each time with the same feelings of hopelessness and being stuck; it's like we've created a rut in our brains.  Our story always begin at A and ends at B - every time, and there's no solution.  So you might end up feeling stuck, helpless, disappointed, stressed out, sad...  all of which gets commonly lumped under depression, anxiety or anger. 

In Expressive Arts therapy, by doing artwork, like writing a fictional story and then painting images inspired by the story …playing music that mimics the tone…acting out the roles of each of its characters…we play with the image.  You can see it from many angles and you may jump that rut.  As your Art therapist I can help you find the starting point for the imagery and we will follow that imagery until you discover the underlying, often surprising, emotions.  

Once you have this awareness or insight, you have choices.  You will have ideas about what choices you are making, how they serve you or what you can do differently if they are no longer serving you.  You can begin taking steps towards creating the life you want or the "you" you want to be. 

Working within a fun, anti-oppressive and LGBTQ2S safe space, each session incorporates verbal dialogue to ensure that insights are harvested and concrete skills are formed that help create change in your life.

Notes are taken during session for the client to take home, to ensure that you can really bring those changes out of the therapy office and integrate them into your everyday life.

My work with Emotional Mindfulness; blending Mindfulness techniques with Art Therapy and DBT is particularly helpful for those diagnosed with Personality Disorders ("Borderlines" welcome!) , PTSD, Trauma and Eating Disorders. I work with clients first to develop Emotional Life Skills to feel better prepared for future crisis or difficulties. LBGQT friendly.

Sessions are not art classes No art experience required

Anatomy of art therapy session

Although there's no formula that I follow as a Client centred Art therapist, often I use this anatomy of a session. 


When a client comes in they take some time to "check in" giving updates on anything they feel is relevant since our last meeting. Then we decide together on a focus for the session, maybe it came out of the check-in or maybe it's a carry over from something we've been working on. 

Art Making

Once we've decided on a focus, I set out an art based activity and guide the client through it.   Often we will go through two or three art activities in one session. 


Then we spend some time processing the art (not analysing but working with the art imagery that has been generated, harvesting insights)  During this discussion I help clients to connect the dots of any insights that may have come through the art or art making process to the client's actual life and concerns.  Sometimes this brings new awarenesses to the client.  For me, awareness brings choice; once we are aware of a pattern or situation we can make choices about how to go forward, to change or maintain behaviour.  Linking the metaphoric insights of Expressive Arts Therapy to day-to-day life is perhaps the most important part of the process.  I help clients to link insights to their life outside the therapy office.


Feeling contained at the end of the session and ready to face the world is essential to the therapy process.  I use grounding techniques to ensure that whatever has been opened up is securely contained so that you can go on with your day after therapy.  During my session, I take extensive notes and a carbon copy is given to the client so that insights and knowledge are close to hand once the session ends.

Samantha Sherer  

(416) 459-1907 

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