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The Healing Power of Art, Dance and Expression

CHICAGO, July 31 /PRNewswire/ -- The calming strokes of a paint brush and the expression of dance and movement have an incredible ability to soothe, heal and inspire. Experiential and expressive therapies, such as art therapy, dance and movement therapy and equine therapy, have the power to address a variety of mental health and behavioral issues including substance abuse, eating disorders, abuse issues, depression, anxiety, relationship problems and communication needs.

At Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, residents' treatment includes experiential therapies as a way to practice skills and address issues necessary for their recovery. According to Kimberly Dennis, M.D., medical director of Timberline Knolls, the use of experiential therapy, when combined with a clinical treatment program, can often make it possible for individuals to experience and express feelings that need to be dealt with in order to achieve recovery.

"By recreating experiences and relationships, experiential therapies help residents to identify and address issues they cannot yet articulate or understand," said Dr. Dennis. "The creative process involved in experiential therapies helps to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness and achieve insight."

At Timberline Knolls experiential therapy is a critical component of the 12-step treatment model and is instrumental in emphasizing very specific aspects of the resident's individual recovery plan as it is incorporated throughout their entire treatment program. Integrating creative and experiential therapies into a traditional treatment program also helps residents regain a sense of mastery over their own recovery by allowing them to embody and visualize the principles of each of the 12-steps of recovery.

Timberline Knolls' director of expressive therapies, Melissa Rocchi, says giving residents different outlets to communicate their feelings is a critical component of recovery. "We use expressive therapies and the creative process as a way for our residents to work through different issues and express themselves nonverbally," Rocchi said. "I am often amazed by the creativity and honesty that comes out of these processes." Art therapy uses the creative process and visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture and other art forms) to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of an individual. It offers an opportunity to explore intense or painful thoughts and feelings in a supportive environment. It involves using a wide variety of art materials, for example paints, clay and collage, to create a visual representation of thought and feelings. Art Therapy can be an individual activity but is often used very successfully in group situations.

Dance and movement therapy (DMT) serves as a powerful medium for people suffering with eating disorders to explore their relationship to their bodies. A characteristic of eating disorders is the tendency to detach from feelings and focus on body distortions, obsessive thoughts and concrete, black and white thinking. DMT provides a way to safely become more aware of feelings that arise from the body's sensations, and teaches people with eating disorders how to listen to their body's needs.

Equine assisted psychotherapy is a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist and an equine professional, which addresses a variety of mental health and human development needs, including eating disorders and substance abuse. Equine therapy helps Timberline Knolls residents develop non-verbal communication skills, assertiveness, confidence, creative thinking, leadership and problem-solving skills, as well as teamwork and relationships.

About Timberline Knolls

Located just outside of Chicago on 43 beautiful acres, Timberline Knolls offers a spiritually nurturing environment of recovery for women ages 12 and older who are struggling to overcome eating disorders, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders. For more information on Timberline Knolls and the services offered, visit

SOURCE Timberline Knolls
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