Published on September 16, 2022

Man with guitar expressive therapy

Mental Healing Through Expressive Therapies

Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Services include an expressive therapies program to help patients on their healing journeys.

Shady Grove patients participate in different expressive therapy groups throughout their mental health treatment, giving them opportunities to share their feelings through constructive and creative outlets.

“The creative process is healing,” said Persha Gregg, clinical manager of the program. “There are many messages intertwined in the music, art, movement or activity. Our expressive therapists have the amazing opportunity every day to help patients creatively and safely let those messages out, while becoming more self-aware on their journey toward wellness.”

Music Therapy

Music therapy uses sounds, instruments, song writing, listening and discussion to support patients on the path to recovery and wellness.

Benefits: A holistic impact on health, including reduced stress and anxiety, improved memory and cognitive skills, reduced physical pain and impact from emotional trauma, and improved social skills.

“Music is such a powerful way to reach and communicate with people,” said Shady Grove music therapist John Kuykendall. “Music therapy harnesses this power to help people heal and flourish physically, mentally and emotionally.”

Art Therapy

Art therapy uses a variety of materials and therapeutic directives to gain insight, resolve distress and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Benefits: Complements treatment by providing an outlet for patients to share their thoughts, emotions and experiences in safe, non-verbal ways.

“Art for me is creativity and imagination at work. Art gives shape and visible communication to our internal experiences,” said Shady Grove’s art therapist Shantel Elessie. “Sharing my love for art as a tool for healing is my hope and driving force for why I became an art therapist. Not only is it expression, but art also leaves a tangible snapshot to assess where you began and how far you have come on the journey of healing.”

Dance/Movement Therapy

Dance/movement therapy uses motion to explore and further the emotional, social, physical, cognitive and spiritual aspects of mental health treatment. Patients find the freedom to safely express themselves in activities that include large energetic movements, small gentle movements or meditation. There’s no need to be able to “dance” and the therapy is customizable for all ages and abilities.

Benefits: Increase in self-awareness, self-expression, self-esteem, self-regulation and the development of healthy communication skills.

“I love connecting with patients and finding ways to share my own love of movement with patients in all of their unique expressions,” said Shady Grove’s dance/movement therapist Rachel Baker.

Recreational Therapy

Recreational therapy utilizes activity-based interventions to challenge patients to maintain physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Benefits: Reduces depression, stress and anxiety, recovers basic motor functioning and reasoning abilities, and builds confidence and social skills.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy focuses on daily activities to improve a patient’s engagement with healthy habits, roles and routines.

Benefits: Gets patients back to doing the activities they want to do.

Pet Therapy

Pet therapy is based upon the unique ties between human beings and animals, and the therapeutic qualities these ties provide. Shady Grove patients interact with animals physically and emotionally in a supportive and safe environment.

Benefits: Helps with self-control, expressing feelings, developing curiosity and the motivation to learn.

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