I began researching and incorporating expressive art therapy in my practice in 2016. It started organically with friends who shared their stories and traumatic experiences with me and wanted to explore their suppressed emotions but felt uncomfortable to reach out to a psychologist. My suggestion was to work with me, and artistically transcendent the memories, emotions, and events into movements. I photographed these intense gestures and the results were truly beautiful and personal. After a few sessions, my subjects reported a feeling of healing, empowerment and willingness to seek further assistance to deal with their emotions. These sessions and images stayed confidential and were lovely moments between us, there was never an intention to publish them or share them publicly. It then took a different turn when I went to Guatemala to a retreat, where I learned that dance was used as a healing tool. I realized that I had been using dance all my life to express myself and my emotions and that it truly had a healing effect on me. I just never thought of it that way, but I witnessed its impact in processing emotions. After that, I began working with different women intuitively in art therapy using motion and dance with more intention. These sessions would eventually culminate in a photography series as well. I became deeply interested in this topic and started researching a field called expressive art therapy.
Expressive arts therapy inspires me as it combines psychological analysis and artistic processes to promote emotional growth and healing. The difference between expressive arts therapy and art therapy is that expressive art therapy draws from a variety of art forms, while art therapy tends to be based on one particular art form. Unlike traditional methods, the person is not trying to access thoughts through words but rather through movement and physical expression. Over the past years, I have been experimenting with these practices to help my subjects heal from traumatic experiences or painful memories and further their emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration through art, dance and music. In past few years, more women have raised their voices and shared their stories, which has open the dialog around mental health and violence against women. It is a privilege to meet these women and to be able to share their experiences through my art.
I believe this method of exploration and healing is more accessible and less intimidating for people who want to start healing from traumatic memories. Hopefully, it will not only be empowering and healing but will also cultivate self-confidence in my subjects to perhaps seek further help from traditional and eastern psychotherapists and doctors to manage issues that often burden our mental health. For my audience, I hope these projects will help understand on a deeper level what trauma can cause and generate more compassion and support in the community in order to help end the violence and destruction cycle.