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The Healing Power of Art, Dance and Expression
Date:7/31/2009

lls' 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.

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