Naomi is a registered therapeutic counsellor and life coach who specializes in expressive arts therapy, mindfulness, guided imagery, meditative hypnotherapy and dialectical behaviour therapy (https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/therapy-types/ dialectical-behavior-therapy).
Expressive arts therapy (EXA) is a holistic, intermodal approach which uses all of the arts: visual arts, movement, sound, drama, poetry and storytelling. Its foundation rests upon attachment theory, trauma-informed practices, art therapy, somatics, Hakomi and mindfulness-based practices, amongst others. Naomi uses EXA to intuitively shape a session. Clients are guided into an “alternate world” where they are free to explore and deepen their connection with themselves and others through an encounter with the arts. Within a framework of trust and safety, Naomi’s clients are presented with the opportunity to navigate a challenge or even a potential fear by being encouraged to take small, manageable risks. Examples of this might be having a client create an improvised dance, story or character performance while being witnessed by others. The apparent paradox of “safe risk” is one of the most transformative tools of expressive arts therapy. In any exercise, while being gently directed toward the somewhat intimidating process of authentic self-expression, Naomi’s clients are simultaneously empowered to honour and self-validate their feelings by choosing their degree of participation. Clients learn to hold space for themselves and one another through the process of witnessing, being witnessed and through the self-discovery that results from reflecting on the process and their experience of it as well as what the image reveals to them.
Expressing oneself through the arts within a space of non-judgment and loving presence leads to less self-negation and rejection while cultivating a more authentic experience of self: a foundation from which true transformation can occur. Increasing the capacity for imagination transfers to an increase in problem-solving skills. Successfully moving through challenges within the EXA framework allows clients to expand their capacity for self-trust while building their inner resources in order to creatively negotiate other real life challenges, all the while remaining grounded in the present moment.
Though EXA and DBT principles, Naomi creates opportunities for her clients to build self-awareness, distress tolerance, communication and relationship skills. These are essential tools for anyone, but especially appreciated by those who deal with a propensity toward substance dependency, OCD, borderline personality disorder, codependency and so on.
EXA is also very useful for those who have experienced trauma, as it can help to process difficult memories and emotions from a safe distance while taking an observer stance. In this way it is similar to DBT in that the mind becomes trained to practice acceptance, non-judgment and to avoid over-identifying with emotions. This can be very helpful with minimizing/desensitizing triggers and bringing down the emotional response to the associated feelings.
One of Naomi’s favourite outcomes of expressive arts therapy is the way it has of helping people to feel safe and welcome inside their own skin. We call it “coming home to ourselves.” When we feel safe inside our bodies, the desire to distance ourselves from uncomfortable feelings whether through dissociation, substance use or the need to exert control over external things is greatly diminished, while our ability to regulate our own emotional response is enhanced. Naomi is committed to continually adding to her skills and knowledge in order to be of service to others.