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Expressive Art Therapies

The Alberta Creative Arts Therapies Center was established within the firm, Gary J. Meiers, Ph.D., Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers, Ph.D. and Associates, in 1995. Jo Ann offers the various expressive and creative arts therapies. She frequently meets interested students who inquire about information. She has given speeches on various psychological concerns that are addressed by dance/movement therapy or art therapy. She has some training and a wealth of information about all of the expressive art therapies. She was the Chair of the Committee for Educational Review of the Art Therapy Educational Institutions in Canada for two years. She actively supervises practicums and internships. She conducts research in the art therapy and dance/movement therapy.

Dance/Movement Therapy

Dance/movement therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement for the purpose of growth and healing, as well as self and relation development.

The American Dance Therapy Association (A.D.T.A) states that dance/movement therapy is “the psychotherapeutic use of movement as a process which furthers the emotional and physical integration of the individual”. A.D.T.A (1985) continues: “Thus, dance/movement therapy effects changes in feelings, cognition, physical functioning and behavior. The dance/movement therapist focuses on movement behavior as it emerges in the therapeutic relationship.”

The body/mind/spirit are inseparable and that is why working with the body and body movement in therapy is very important. The subconscious is often accessed through body movement, body energy, and somatic sensations. Dance/movement therapy seeks to facilitate ways to experience wholeness and meaningful connections with one’s own body and one’s sense of self.

Dance/movement therapy pays attention to both verbal and nonverbal communication, and endeavors to understand it within a holistic and humanistic framework. It can help promote and enhance a better understanding of how to meaningfully relate to others.

Movement experiences may be accompanied by visual images, bodily-felt sensations & /or work, depending on the visual, kinesthetic and verbal abilities or preferences of the participants (Chodorow, 1991).

By putting a lived-experience, which consists of movement and verbal thoughts, into images, feelings, or words, one often accesses additional information available through the sensory modes or channels (visual, kinesthetic, proprioceptive, auditory and relational experiences) and thus facilitates communication with and about direct experiences (Mindell, A., 1987). Dr. Hammond-Meiers, studied Process Oriented therapy, which includes art and movement with Dr. Arnold Mindell.

Jo Ann studied Dance Therapy at New York University and has continued study in this area for over 30 years. She has conducted research in the field of dance/movement therapy for decades. She published major research in the field of Dance/Movement Therapy in 1986 (Eating Disorders), 1992 (Women with Depression), 2005 (Combined Art and Movement Therapy with Women’s Group , and Chapter Eleven in Art Therapy and Post Modernism, Ed. Helene Burt, 2012.

Art Therapy

Art therapy allows for the expression of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations, at many levels, bringing us the potential for new awareness and learning. The materials used vary from sculpting with clay, play dough and plasticine, various paints like tempera paint, pastels, and acrylics, found objects in nature, and collages with many kinds of materials.

Art therapy is especially helpful for brain integration and healing. Participants express a personal range of feelings, thoughts, and sensations as they interconnect with the art media. The therapeutic work comes through the art-making itself, a reflection and connection to their creations, and to the connection with the therapist and the safe and enriching space. Individuals may reflect upon the art itself both in sessions and after sessions.

There are many ways to work with art materials that help connect to body movement and meaningful awareness that helps growth and healing. Art therapy can be combined with coaching, in-depth psychotherapy, dance/movement therapy, play therapy, drama therapy, and music therapy. Depending on what is most help to the participants, the therapist facilitates experiences using visual and emotional connection to one’s art and self, enhancing creativity, growth, awareness, and healing.

A session in art therapy might initially come from an issue that arises or it may come from just exploring the various media that lend themselves to various colours or textures, or black and white or various shapes and forms. There is a personal interaction between the art maker and the art. The art therapy can be done in a group or individual format. Art therapy is an in-depth exploration of the always developing self, self in relationship, grief, creative psychotherapy. Many themes are developed from the art or from the issues people begin to explore, heal or deepen.

The art therapy can be in a group or individual format. There is an ongoing women’s group in combined art and dance/movement therapy which may fit for some women who want to have art/movement psychotherapy with the support of a group and a trained expressive arts therapy group therapist and coach. The group cost is very reasonable and all materials for the art and the movement props are included.

See Outcome Research
Here is the link to the American Art Therapy Association Research Committee's Outcomes Bibliography. It is updated annually although there is outcome research not necessarily found here. (

Drama Therapy

Drama therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of drama. There are many way of healing that involve relating to self, others, community and our world. Drama therapy used tools of enacting roles, scenes, archetypes, Gestalt Therapy techniques, acting, and dialogues. It can help to addresses many issues and bring about insights, energetic changes, and resolutions. Dr. Hammond-Meiers often combines art, movement, drama, music, and poetry which are the expressive arts therapies. She has supervised Registered Psychologists who trained in Drama Therapy. Her initial interest in Drama therapy and Psychodrama began in 1976.

Dr. Hammond-Meiers studied with the renowned Robert Landy and New York University. Robert J. Landy, Ph.D. is a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT), a Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) and Board Certified Trainer (BCT).

For four years at the U of A hospital with adults and adolescents, and later for another four years with Children, and Adolescent Services before and after it was part of Alberta Mental Health Services, she also worked with Frank Shen, PhD, Registered Psychologist at the time, now retired, who was a Certified Pscyhodramatist, who studied with Dr. Moreno himself. Dr. Hammond-Meiers learned much about working with dramatic vignettes as well as full psychodrama sessions with groups or individuals.

Music Therapy

Music therapy is the use of music in psychotherapy. In Dr. Hammond-Meiers, expressive art therapies sessions she often but not always can integrate music and its healing properties. Playing of instruments like drums, shakers, chimes, and other musical instruments can often help enhance a group experience and healing. Learning how to sound and to use our voices for creativity, communication, and expression are very helpful to enhance growth of self and personal healing.

While studying in New York at NYU, Dr. Hammond-Meiers was fortunate to experience music therapy. She also had integrated music therapy experience at several hospitals and schools in New York when she was doing her dance/movement therapy practicums and internship. Dr. Hammond-Meiers had studied piano herself and had won singing contests as a child growing up and been in a choir for several years. Although not being a music therapist, she found using improvisation of movement and sounding very therapeutic for many clients over years of practice. Sounding and body expression including voice was part of her dance/movement therapy training. She has helped clients who want to discover their own voice, sing with more confidence and joy (less anxiety), and/or give talks with more embodiment and body confidence.


Journaling is your own personal style of writing about yourself, your feelings and thoughts on a daily basis. Journal writing often includes art, poetry and dreams. When you first journal, you may find that you just “vent” – and that’s okay. At this point, the journaling is like a “container” for all the strong feelings.

As you journal more, your journal can become like your best friend. You are there for yourself. You can reflect back on what themes are present in your life. Some journals you may want to keep journals for years as they are precious. Others you might not want to keep and you may do a ritual of letting go of that time in your life.

Journal writing can assist and enhance your therapy, but they are not recommended for all. Talk to your therapist about if you are being over activated or triggered too much by your journaling and find other ways to address those triggers as often they can involve trauma.

For many people, journaling helps them function day to day, in between therapy sessions. Some of what people write can be shared with the therapist if it seems to help the individual express what they are thinking and feeling outside of therapy.

Make sure you keep your journal in a private place, as it is for you.

Poetry Therapy

Poetry therapy employs personal writing in a therapeutic context as a means to enhance self-awareness, healing and growth.

Play Therapy

Play therapy is the therapeutic use of play to enhance self- development and relationship- growth. Play therapy uses the expressive arts in a congruent way to discover safe ways of transitioning and feeling better, while learning, succeeding, and growing.

Play therapy addresses and helps with the following areas and more:
  • Grief and trauma
  • Behavioral shifts and management
  • Improved communication skills
  • Self-confidence building
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Learning challenges and learning how to learn
  • Enhanced coping and adapting and being more flexible with transitions
  • Blended family
  • Parent's divorce transitions for family members, including children, teens, and adults
  • Adoptive transitions and settling in and attachment concerns

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Gary J. Meiers, Ph.D., Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers, Ph.D. and Associates Ltd.

10009 – 85 Avenue, Edmonton, AB, T6E 2J9

Phone: 780-433-2269

Fax: 780-431-0463 



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