At Paradigm Malibu, we take great pride in our Teen Expressive Arts Therapy programs, which we consider to be some of the most powerful and specialized therapy modalities in adolescent care. We also implement these programs in combination with our more traditional talk-based approaches, such as Talk Therapy and Behavioral Therapy sessions. We find Expressive Arts therapies to not only be effective in helping to engage adolescents in their treatment process, but also to probe more deeply into their thoughts and feelings, as uncovered and recognized in talk-therapy sessions. The result is a synergistic combination of traditional and creative therapies which allows us to design and implement highly specialized and individualized treatment plans for every adolescent at Paradigm. Our current teen Expressive Arts Therapies include: Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Dance/Movement Therapy, Drama Therapy, Cinema Therapy, Biblio Therapy, and Written and Narrative Therapies. All of our Teen Expressive Arts Therapy programs are led by professional Master’s level therapists that have gained additional certification in their Expressive Art area and experienced specifically with adolescent treatment.
The overall purpose of Expressive Arts therapies is to provide teens with alternative methods of expression that reaffirms their emotional experiences, and provides new perspectives of, and access to, their thought processes. The beauty of these creative therapies, especially when used in combination with Talk Therapy and Behavioral Therapy sessions, is the opportunity for teens to feel more free to engage the creative activity, which in turn gives them indirect access and insight into their emotions and thoughts. In our experience, it’s common for teens to feel less pressure and anxiety about fully taking part in the Expressive Arts therapies, because of the context and indirect nature of the process. As a result, adolescents are able to then further evaluate and reflect upon the work occurring in other areas of their treatment.
The Teen Expressive Arts Therapies in and of themselves are a very holistic, interdisciplinary approach to treatment. The Expressive Arts Therapy Association specifically encourages a “multimodal approach” to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorder treatment, in which teens can “flow” into and out of a number of different treatment approaches and experiences, in order to gain the most thorough and powerful insight into themselves that’s possible. This perspective on adolescent treatment in general marries well with our goals and approach at Paradigm Malibu, which are to individualize every treatment plan, in order to maximize each adolescent’s ability to engage in treatment and therefore, achieve recovery.
From the perspective of the Expressive Arts Therapies, gaining insight into oneself is the most primary and powerful step of effective treatment and recovery, and therefore, expanding the means by which adolescents can gain such access to themselves is where these creative forms of therapy can be so useful. It’s common, for example, for adolescents to be unaware of some of the reasons or causes behind their behaviors, even while they might make a sincere effort in Talk Therapy sessions to discover them. However, in Expressive Arts Therapy sessions, because of the indirect approach to accessing this emotional and mental space, teens find a way to “let go” of inhibitions and resistance they may have to the treatment. Then, teens can take the discoveries they’ve made in the creative sessions to begin working through and addressing in Talk Therapy and Behavioral Therapy sessions, creating a wonderfully complimentary process. At Paradigm, the specific Arts Therapy programs which adolescents take part in are based partly on their own individual interests and partly on the assessments and vision of their treatment plans. Overall, our Expressive Arts Therapy sessions are found to be enjoyable and effective by our adolescents and therapists alike and an aspect of our treatment center which we consider to be one of the best we offer.