(with throwback photos!)

It’s truly hard to believe that today marks two decades since Chrysalis Center opened its doors. At that time, we were 2 psychologists in a small 3-room office in Oleander Office Park and now we are incredibly grateful to be in a sprawling 4-suite office space in Burnt Mill Business Park employing 12 therapists, 4 dietitians, 1 prescriber, and 4 administrative support team members.  

Meghan (current Clinical Director) and Kelly (Co-founder, owner) – circa early 2000s

We are also exceptionally proud of the training programs we offer, having precepted numerous interns over the years in a variety of disciplines from several different universities who are able to provide pro bono counseling in our community. We are also a behavioral health rotation for the family medicine residents in our area, teaching future doctors about eating disorders which are highly complex disorders wrought with potential medical complications. Both Kelly Broadwater and Terri Mozingo are approved supervisors for the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP) and we have several clinicians on staff who are able to supervise associates for their respective licensing boards. In addition to teaching, supervising, and supporting the next generation of clinicians, our ambitious team shares a love of learning and have (or are currently) pursuing various specialty certifications. Most recently, Jen Myers became a licensed Be Body Positive facilitator, Aiereal Lloyd earned her Perinatal Mental Health certification, and Terri Mozingo is a newly minted certified Intuitive Eating counselor. 

Co-founders Kelly and Kayj, circa early 2000s

Outreach is another area we proudly focus on, feeling it’s important to give back to the community, as well as share our knowledge base with other professionals in our disciplines. Since our last anniversary, we have assembled a team that participated in the Cape Fear Heart Walk, we were sponsors of the Wilmington Out of the Darkness Walk associated with the American Society for Suicide Prevention, we collected and donated items to the Good Shepherd Center which supports the unhoused in our area, and we held a networking event for perinatal health professionals and will have a resource table at the upcoming Climb out of the Darkness walk which benefits the NC Chapter of Perinatal Support International.  

Our team has also been busy with professional presentations this year. Kelly Broadwater has shared her bariatric expertise with the Carolinas Bariatric Society, the Obesity Action coalition, and in a few weeks will speak at the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons annual meeting. Terri Mozingo and Riley Burns co-presented at the 2023 SEAHEC Pediatric Symposium in March and Alaina Van Gelder led a four-hour training at the 2nd Annual Southeastern Behavioral Health Summit in May.  

Another exciting development in the past year is our Health Equity Initiative, headed up by Riley Burns and Megan Vaughn, focusing on providing affirming care to LGBTQIA+ clients. Understanding that this population has unique needs when it comes to mental health support and eating disorder recovery, we are striving to better meet those needs via staff training and providing more inclusive programming. This year we launched an Embodying Queerness group led by Kaelin Kennedy for LGBTQIA+ clients, focusing on building trust and pride in their bodies. 

Kelly, Chaundra, and Kayj – circa early 2000s

Hopefully this synopsis demonstrates just how committed we are as an organization to our values of quality and teamwork! Speaking of quality, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge and honor the memory of one of our founders who passed away in 2022, Dr. Kiersten Nash (Okine) Andersen. Kayj was a counseling psychologist and eating disorder specialist who took both our executive director and clinical director under her wing early in our careers and taught us so much during our time as our supervisor. Her passion for teaching and love of learning was truly foundational to key members of our team and we hope that her legacy lives on as Kelly and Meghan both supervise future clinicians and eating disorder specialists. 

I am humbled to be writing this blog and reflecting on the growth of Chrysalis over the past 20 years and the amazing accomplishments just in the time since our last anniversary. I hope that we continue to embody our mission, vision, and values and “Restore Hope” and “Empower Change” for many years to come. 


Is yoga actually good for treating eating disorders? If so, why? And which style is the best for recovery? As a yoga practitioner myself, these are questions I’ve set out to answer by combing through studies that asked the same questions. Lucky for me, in recent years, yoga has been empirically explored as an intervention for treating eating disorders (ED) such as bulimia nervo

sa (BN), binge eating disorder (BED), and anorexia nervosa (AN) (Brennan et al., 2020; Diers et al., 2020; Pizzanello, 2021). The following are highlights from recent research that indicate yoga’s effectiveness in ED treatment.  

 The Mindfulness Movement: A Catalyst for yogic interventions 

In more recent years, mindfulness-based interventions such as meditation have come on the psychotherapy and ED recovery scene. Mindfulness has proven to help with many biological and psychological functioning including emotional regulation and body awareness – two big factors in EDs and ED recovery (Diers et al., 2020). Yoga as an intervention for ED comes from the recent implementation of mindfulness techniques in treatment and recovery (Brennan et al., 2020).  

Eating disorders are associated with a disruption in emotional regulation, poor body image, and the inability to experience emotions and body sensations, including hunger and fullness cues. The mindful movement aspect of yoga can help people begin to feel body sensations, become more aware of emotions, and tolerate emotional distress as they learn to tolerate the body positions experienced in yoga practice (Brennan et al., 2020; Diers et al., 2020; Pizzanello, 2021). The idea that body sensations accompany most if not all emotions (Pizzanello, 2021), provides a strong argument that body-based interventions for ED can help patients increase emotional awareness as they mindfully awaken to their bodily sensations through yoga (Brennan et al., 2020). Equally important is the fact that body awareness also helps people experience hunger and fullness cues which is an important element of ED recovery (Pizzanello, 2021). 

Which style of yoga is best for recovery? 

Yoga practices that emphasize awareness of internal experiences including physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions can be most helpful for ED recovery. One research study used Kripalu yoga, which invites practitioners to accept these internal experiences without judgment (Brennan et al., 2020). Mindfulness and self-compassion were encouraged in each class.  

Finding a studio that is non-competitive is important for ED clients. Starting yoga in recovery could trigger over-exercising or the inclination to engage the “yoga lifestyle” (i.e., strict diet and exercise regime), which can mirror ED behaviors for those with EDs. Thus, having an instructor and yoga community that is non-competitive and encourages participants to listen to and be gentle with their bodies is key for those in recovery. Research shows that practicing yoga in a recovery group with processing afterward is ideal, especially for those newer to recovery (Brennan et al., 2020). For those who choose to do yoga outside of a treatment center or group, it is advised to process the experience with your therapist.  


Yes, yoga has been found to be a potentially beneficial intervention for treating EDs. Yoga’s focus on mindfulness of the body and emotions can help those with EDs to begin to feel and appreciate their body. Doing yoga as part of recovery should be processed with a therapist and should be sought in a safe, non-competitive environment. The Chrysalis Center offers gentle yoga for those in recovery for EDs. If you are interested in incorporating yoga into your recovery, speak with your treatment team about the best way to start your yoga practice.  


Brennan, M. A., Whelton, W. J., & Sharpe, D. (2020). Benefits of yoga in the treatment of eating disorders: Results of a randomized controlled trial. Eating Disorders, 28(4), 438–457. 

Diers, L., Rydell, S. A., Watts, A., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2020). A yoga-based therapy program designed to improve body image among an outpatient eating disordered population: program description and results from a mixed-methods pilot study. Eating Disorders, 28(4), 476–493. 

Pizzanello, H. C. (2021). An exploration of yoga’s potential to incite feelings of aliveness and authenticity in women recovering from anorexia nervosa. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 91(4), 324–363. 


By: Riley Burns, RDN, LDN

Chrysalis’ Nutrition Director Terri Mozingo recently completed the rigorous Intuitive Eating Counselor coursework and sat down with us to share what she learned alongside some words of wisdom. 

How long did this certification take you?

One and a half years.  It is an intense certification process that included modules with an accompanying workbook, an exam, an intensive literature review, and group supervision with one of the founders, Evelyn Tribole.

Why was this the next step in your career? What made it feel enticing to you?

A lot of clients come to Chrysalis wanting to learn Intuitive Eating (IE).  Most of the time, clients aren’t ready for Intuitive Eating right from the get-go.  Most of the time, by no fault of their own, clients come in with an extensive background in diet culture, and I wanted to pursue this certification to gain more tools to help me help clients move from diet culture into a more neutral place where they’re ready to learn IE.

Terri Mozingo, RD. LDN, CEDRD-S
Terri Mozingo, RD. LDN, CEDRD-S

What was the most valuable thing you learned in the process?

The tools that we learned.  The certification came with an abundance of information, worksheets, research, and skills that are translatable into tools for clients that really help them to learn the language of intuitive eating.  Oftentimes one of the hardest things for clients to do is to unlearn diet culture and reframe subjective thinking around food. The language of intuitive eating is based in rejecting the diet mentality and embracing food neutrality, which is a big challenge for clients.  The tools I learned during the certification are immensely helpful in helping me help my clients. 

Another valuable component of the certification was reading the wealth of evidence-based research that backs up IE.  I’m a very science-minded person, and I thought it was fascinating to see that there is quantitative and qualitative research showing that intuitive eating promotes favorable health outcomes.  That is really important for dietitians to see because we make our treatment decisions based on evidence-based recommendations. 

Supervision was a significant part of the journey to get this certification.  What do you think the supervision added to the experience? Any takeaways?

Supervision was helpful because of all of the different perspectives that were being highlighted.  There were other dietitians, therapists, yoga instructors, and people who just wanted to learn more about intuitive eating! Everyone had different, but equally valuable insights, and it was really interesting to present cases and hear everyone’s feedback.  There was also such a  wide geographic spread, with some people living as far away as Australia.  It was awesome to see how far IE has reached. 

How does someone know they are ready to learn intuitive eating?

It’s really different for everyone.  It’s important to have the motivation to make changes, but it’s just as important to be ready to let go of diet culture and the desire to lose weight.  Intuitive eating is not a weight loss tool.  Once someone is ready to release expectations, reject black-and-white thinking around food, and learn how to live in the gray area, then intuitive eating can be a topic of conversation.  IE is a lifelong journey – it takes a long time.  Learning IE is one thing, living it is another.  

So IE has 10 principles.  What is your favorite principle? Which principle do you find most people get stuck on?

My favorite principle AND the one most people get stuck on is principle 1: Reject the Diet Mentality.  The IE principles don’t have to go in order, but Principle 1 is first for a reason.  I find myself coming back to this one the most frequently with clients too.  It is so important to reinforce, especially because we are all raised in diet culture.  Principle 1 also has incredibly compelling research to back it up.

When clients get stuck, this is usually where it happens.  This principle is also my favorite because I have so many clients that hit roadblocks because they don’t have a safe space to unlearn the diet mentality.  I also spend a lot of time reinforcing that even if you work diligently at unlearning the diet mentality, it may never feel like you’ve done it perfectly.  That’s because IE isn’t a diet plan – it’s a way of life, and life isn’t perfect.  

Interested in starting an intuitive eating journey of your own? Call us today to make an appointment! (910)790-9500

Find more Intuitive Eating resources HERE. 


Happy Pride Month from all of us at Chrysalis Center.  Make sure you stay up to date on our instagram (@chrysaliscenternc) to see educational content about LGBTQIA+ considerations in the mental health space all month long! Keep reading to learn more about ways that Chrysalis is striving to better meet the needs of the LGBTQIA+ population through our Health Equity Initiative.

Chrysalis Center is proud to be accredited with the Joint Commission (JCo) and we are putting our own spin on JCo’s new health disparity initiative with our Health Equity Team. 

Megan Vaughn (she/her, admin, check-in) and Riley Burns (she/her, Registered Dietitian) are the Chrysalis team members who are spearheading this first iteration of the Health Equity Project.  Though the project will be ongoing, we are focusing our efforts on improving our inclusivity and affirmation of the LGBTQIA+ community in our office.  

Recently you may have seen signs up around our office with a QR code on it asking you to scan and take a survey about perceptions of inclusivity at Chrysalis and what we can do to better meet the specific needs of our LGBTQIA+ clients, family, and loved ones.  If you took the survey, thank you! Your input is invaluable.  If you are a client or the loved one of a client at Chrysalis, you can still take the survey by clicking HERE, or by finding the link on the front page of our website.  

What changes will you see?

You will notice some small but impactful changes as a first-line intervention to make Chrysalis more inclusive.  First, Chrysalis staff have added their pronouns to the website and their email signature.  This change indicates that we are informed on the importance of stating our pronouns and that Chrysalis is a safe space to disclose your personal pronouns.  

Second, we have added safe space stickers to doors and around public areas at Chrysalis featuring the progress pride flag.  Click HERE to read more about the progress pride flag and its importance in the community.  

Next, we have added a robust section of resources on our website that have been vetted by our Health Equity Team.  To find it, either click HERE or go to [resources] → [LGBTQIA+ resources].  For those reading this who don’t identify as LGBTQIA+, this resource is for you too! We hope to empower you to learn more about how you can support and uplift the LGBTQIA+ community in your day-to-day life.  

Lastly (for now) we are making an effort to add a section for pronouns on all of our intake paperwork, as well as asking about preferred names and legal names.  This information will be available to clinicians, and clinicians are encouraged to introduce themselves with their own preferred name and pronouns.  This adjustment is done in an effort to continue normalizing use of pronouns and to help Chrysalis to become an overall more affirming space.  

What changes will you *not* see? (AKA – the changes happening in the background)

Changes happening in the background are the ones that are happening on the staff level.  As a staff, we have committed to pursuing more education on issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community, having Q+A presentations in our staffing sessions, and making it a point to more openly discuss recent legislature at the state and federal level that impacts LGBTQIA+ rights.  As an organization, we are committing to understand that protecting our LGBTQIA+ clients, staff, and loved ones means protecting LGBTQIA+ rights. 

All of us here at Chrysalis greatly appreciate your grace and input as we make these changes.  There is space in our survey to add additional feedback, and we would be so very grateful if you are able to take the time to participate.  Chrysalis is proud to support the LGBTQIA+ community and to continue our journey of learning and affirming. 





We can’t let May end without acknowledging Maternal Mental Health Month. Did you know that as many as 1 in 5 women experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders? Maternal mental health concerns are actually the leading complications in pregnancy and postpartum. We believe that women’s mental health IS health and the more we can do to support moms, the better. To that end, we are proud to announce that our psychiatric provider, Aiereal Lloyd, PMHNP has now received her Perinatal Mental Health Certification in Psychopharmacology via Postpartum Support International.

I recently had the pleasure of talking to Aiereal a little more about this important topic.

Kelly– Tell us what made you interested in perinatal mental health and pursuing this designation.

Aiereal- After my daughter, I experienced Postpartum Mood Disorder. I was afraid to tell my doctor in fears that my baby would be taken away. I felt I had no support. I eventually told them and was started on medication without education (which was terrifying). I want to be that support for women who are afraid, who are clueless on the next steps.

Kelly– I know you just studied for your test and while all the info is still fresh, anything that stands out to you to share with us?

Aiereal– Most medications are pretty safe during pregnancy. Fathers are important too, when there is a supportive partner, it can be very helpful. It’s also crucial to know the importance of screening dads as well for PMAD.

Kelly– What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about pregnant and breastfeeding women being on psychiatric medications?

Aiereal– That medications need to be stopped while pregnant or while breastfeeding or that Zoloft is the only safe medication to take.

Kelly– What advice would you give to a therapist, medical provider, or doula re: talking to a client about considering medication/being referred to a prescriber, especially if the mom is wary of going that route?

Aiereal– Reassuring the mom/dad that medications are okay. Of course, therapy is #1 in my opinion. Medications do not have to be lifelong, and if they are it’s okay. Being a parent is hard no matter if you are a first timer, adopter, or an experienced parent. Each pregnancy is different and there are resources to help you decide what is best for you and your family.


Learn More

Maternal Mental Health Hotline; a confidential, toll-free hotline for mothers experiencing mental health challenges:

1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

Screening Tools



Chrysalis Center is proud to launch our new health equity initiative currently focused on LGBTQIA+ Inclusivity at Chrysalis.

As a facility that specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, we recognize that the LGBTQIA+ community is disproportionately impacted by eating disorders. In line with Chrysalis’ mission statement “restoring hope, empowering change” we are working towards change within our facility by taking client feedback and implementing interventions to improve our practice. This survey is a part of a recent health equity initiative, and we have chosen to prioritize the LGBTQIA+ community first in our efforts in making Chrysalis a more equitable and inclusive practice.

Please click the link below to be redirected to our survey.  If you or a loved one is a part of our Chrysalis community, we would deeply appreciate you taking the time to participate in an effort to make our facility a more welcoming and affirming space.

In the future, you can look forward to more content highlighting the LGBTQIA+ community, why this community, along with other marginalized groups is disproportionately impacted by eating disorders, and what we can all do to help make Chrysalis, as well as the world we live in, a more inclusive place.

LGBTQIA+ Inclusion at Chrysalis Center


Choosing Recovery

I truly thought I would spend my entire life obsessing over food, health, and weight. I clearly remember the intense pressure I felt to eat “perfectly” and follow all of the rules I set out for myself. My eating disorder took the better part of a decade away from me, and looking back I have immeasurable anger at my eating disorder and immeasurable gratitude for my choice to recover.

My eating disorder thrived on my intense need to be perfect. I lived with persistent fear of not being “good enough” in any area of my life. No matter what I did, how many foods I cut out, how hard I worked out, how “perfectly” I ate, or how many rules I followed, I could never be good enough for my eating disorder. She was my worst critic, and she was loud. Born from childhood bullies, my sensitive nature, and my fear of never being good enough, my eating disorder was my worst nightmare and my best friend. Every vivid memory from 12-18 years old involves my eating disorder, but it was my best kept secret. My parents never knew, my teachers all remarked on how polite and quiet I was, and I was known for my discipline and “will-power”.

Choosing recovery was terrifying. My eating disorder had me completely convinced that, by pursuing recovery, I would give up everything about myself that I valued. My beliefs, my community, my passions, everything. The part of me that held that fear was wrong, of course. Once I made the decision to recover, I threw my entire self into it. I knew that I couldn’t live with my eating disorder anymore, but I didn’t remember life without it. I came of age with a mental illness that warped my view of reality completely, and my recovery was spent re-learning what a healthy relationship with food is like. I can’t accurately quantify the hours spent crying into a bowl of food that I now eat every day, or the amount of times I had to remind myself that eating is a morally neutral activity. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Now, when I think about my eating disorder, I think about it in the past tense. My life now is full of color and joy in a way I never thought was possible. I’ve given up the parts of me that I held so dearly during my eating disorder – the ones I was so terrified to lose. Now, I’m a little less quiet, and my life is a lot more vibrant. My resilience brought out the best in me in ways I could’ve never anticipated. My recovery also let me access a simple kind of joy I never thought was possible – the joy of being content with my life exactly how it is. The joy of putting on clothing I love without thinking about how I could change myself to make an outfit look better. The joy of moving my body because I love it, not because I hate it. The joy of eating in the company of those who love me. And lastly, the joy of knowing that all I have to be is myself, and that will always be more than enough.


Live From Recovery

We were in the cracker aisle in the grocery store and I mentioned that a certain cracker looked good to me. My partner’s response: “eww gross” And I knew no matter how good they looked I would never be able to eat those crackers. This was not new. It was a familiar thought process. It was like a broken record that is so loud and offensive it creates a physical response. For me the physical response would not permit that (or whatever the food item of the moment was) past my lips. And let me be clear: This response had nothing to do with pleasing my partner. I’ve never been a people pleaser and he was definitely not the most important thing at that time. It was completely and utterly an eating disorder response. And for the first time, I let myself notice that I didn’t like it. I told my partner he could never make comments about my food choices again and I believe it was at that point that my recovery began.

Eating disorder recovery is slow and I did not buy those crackers, however, something inside of me stirred on that day that never settled back down. Recovery didn’t begin for me because someone else told me I had to follow a meal plan or fact checked so much that I began to believe the facts. It began because I woke up to what was happening. I started to realize that the world was not nearly as irritating as I previously thought. It was me. I was irritable. I was always hungry and I was being controlled by a mental illness.

Recovering was a long and sometimes terrifying experience but now the terror has shifted. It no longer comes from meeting my body’s needs or facing uncomfortable emotions. It is now a retrospective terror when I consider the ways I used to torture my body. When I am reminded of that terror now, I regard my body with awe and thank it for being strong enough to withstand that eating disorder I allowed to ravage it.

So what is recovery like? It is like the exact things your eating disorder tells you were never possible. More than anything it is comfort. Total comfort. I get up every day and dress in clothes that always feel comfortable. I am not ashamed of my body nor do I try to hide it. I exercise and it feels really good because my body is fueled for the exercise and responds with a sensation of strength. Gone are the dizzying and headache filled hours after a workout. And what’s more, I am rarely irritable! That’s one I never saw coming. I am proud of the long fuse I have and the stressors I confront with calm. Recovery is a million times better than your most compliant eating disorder day, I promise.


Meet Madelyn Huey, RD, LDN our newest addition to the dietetic team!

I understand you were initially planning on becoming an engineer. Tell me what made you change course and fueled your interest in dietetics.
I started out college as a chemical engineer major, not knowing what I wanted to do other than the fact that I liked math and chemistry. Within my first semester, I liked my classes, all the calculations and problem solving, but I had no passion with it. When I decided to change career paths, I thought about my best friend in high school that I’d always talk about food and go grocery shopping with. She was in school for dietetics and told me more about what it means. I thought about how much I loved learning more about food and since then I haven’t looked back.

What populations do you work with and what are your clinical interests within the realm of nutrition? 
I work with adults from early adulthood to geriatrics for general nutrition counseling, eating disorders, and bariatrics pre and post-op. I practice gentle and holistic nutrition to help others create, mend, or build a strong healthy relationship with food. My nutritional interests outside of eating disorders are any and everything involving the gut microbiota, pregnancy/lactation nutrition, and sport (specifically weightlifting) performance.

You’ve done a lot of nutrition groups in our Intensive Outpatient Program over the past few months. Can you share a bit of the content of one of the groups that would be helpful, even for outpatient clients? 
“Fueling Your Brain” is one of my favorite nutrition groups from IOP as it helps show the range of importance that nutrition has on our health. This group takes the often-repeated phrase “food is fuel” and shows where and why that fuel is needed. For example, protein, one of the 3 macronutrients, is responsible for the structure of the body and over 65% of body protein is found in the constantly adapting skeletal muscle, organs, skin, and blood. Protein is typically only thought for building muscle but has many other vital roles, such as building neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers in the brain that communicate to other cells. We couldn’t have cell-to-cell communication without protein and the process of making neurotransmitters couldn’t be done without carbohydrates, the main source of energy for the body. I feel this group could be helpful to outpatient clients as it helps remind us that we aren’t just feeding to our stomachs when we eat, but to our organs and personality.

It’s the new year and all month long we’ve been inundated with diet and fitness culture. What clinical advice do you have to help us tune those messages out? 
We are constantly surrounded by expectations for what we do, how we speak, who to know, what to wear, or how to look by people who don’t know us. Holding on to all the pressure for fitting in and staying up to date on trends each year, only to do it again with the next “new start.” My advice is to take the time this year to study yourself, practice self-care and focus on you because not only do you know you best, but diet and fitness culture wouldn’t have all the “quick fixes” for our health, routines, and relationships if they actually worked. There’s no one solution or answer for how to better any element in your life and likely what you need isn’t the same as what society thinks you need. So stop listening to the culture that doesn’t know you and start listening to yourself.

You’re newer to the Wilmington are. Any favorite spots? 
So far loving Wilmington and, of course, the beach is at the top of my list of favorites! I enjoyed surfing, kayaking, and paddle-boarding in both Wrightsville and Carolina Beach this summer. I still haven’t seen a lot outside of the beach scene yet, but I love Front Street Brewery downtown and Islands has become a go-to.

As you well know, we’re pet lovers at Chrysalis. Tell us about yours! 
I have 2 puppers, a 5-year-old golden retriever, Millie, and a 4-year-old Dutch shepherd, Brynn! They are both very goofy and derpy with much love for the water and long walks on the beach.


What is Expressive Arts Therapy?
By Jayme Sampler, LCMHC-A


When we listen to what our soul needs, sometimes it whispers, “Let me create something. I want you to listen to what I have to say.”

According to my alma mater, Appalachian State University, “Expressive Arts Therapy is the practice of using storytelling, dance, music, drama, poetry, dreamwork, visual arts, and other artistic modalities in an integrated way to foster human growth, development, and healing. It is about reclaiming our innate capacity as human beings for the creative expression of our individual and collective human experience in artistic form. It is also about experiencing the natural capacity of creative expression and creative community for healing. Expressive Arts Therapy is different from other creative therapies such as Art Therapy or Music Therapy as it emphasized the interdisciplinary use of multiple art modalities.”

In simpler words, Expressive Arts Therapies give the creator (client) space to find what works best for them as an individual, and it focuses on the process of creation, rather than the product.

Expressive Arts Therapy allows our unconscious minds to open and observe what comes to the surface- without judgment. Because Expressive Arts Therapy uses a lot of different modalities, we are not boxed, and not being boxed into a specific thing we need to do in therapy gives us a lot of freedom to grow.

When given the space, we may open a door to the past, see things from a new perspective, or un-stick something we have been struggling to move past. Other times, it can allow us to do something as simple as coping with what is happening in the therapeutic process. I work with a lot of kiddos and it can be so helpful to say “Hey, there’s some markers and paper right here. Why don’t you draw a picture of [insert a situation that was hard], and then we can talk about it?” This gives them the space to let out some of that overflow of emotion and bring them back down to a level where they can effectively talk about it.

What it all boils down to is this: when we let ourselves explore our creative side and use it to our advantage, we give ourselves room to not be perfect.

If you like the statistical side of things, rather than just take my word for it, here’s some research! Expressive Arts Therapies have been linked to lessened behavioral issues in school-aged children1, an increase in positive coping skills2, lower stress levels3, personal growth, increased self-awareness, better communication skills4, and so much more.

1Dunphy, K., Mullane, S., & Jacobsson, M. (2014). The effectiveness of expressive arts therapies: A review of the literature. Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia.
2Henderson, D. A., & Gladding, S. T. (1998). The Creative Arts in Counseling: A Multicultural Perspective. The Arts in Psychotherapy
3Squillante, AnnaRose, “Teachers’ Stress and the Benefits of Expressive Arts Therapy: A Critical Review of the Literature” (2019).
4Vaartio-Rajalin, H., Santamäki-Fischer, R., Jokisalo, P., & Fagerström, L. (2021). Art making and expressive art therapy in Adult Health and Nursing Care: A Scoping Review. International Journal of Nursing Sciences

About Us

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