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Expressive Arts Therapy

Mountain Valley’s clinical program is grounded in cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT), most prominently acceptance-based exposure and response prevention (ERP). We focus on process-based CBT – the core processes that have been found to be most effective within the CBTs. Our weekly groups incorporate ACT/psychological flexibility practices, DBT skills, and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) principles. In addition, we have a group dedicated to the expressive arts. This group originated out of a desire to increase diversity and experiential learning in our clinical programming.

Expressive Arts Therapy Group integrates components of Mountain Valley’s clinical programming, thereby serving as a therapeutic multi-tasker. Utilizing clinically-informed elements of art, drama, music, movement and related activities, the group provides a unique format for immersion into CBT and exposure concepts.

Expressive Arts Therapy:

  • Prompts spontaneity and creativity which offer direct, supportive, and playful challenges to the anxious/OCD/perfectionistic mindset.
  • Offers opportunities to access dynamic regions of the brain associated with artistic activity that is less prominently engaged by more typical therapeutic and verbal formats.
  • Offers opportunities for safe exploration of personal challenges through projective techniques embedded within the artistic format (i.e., role, color, movement, etc.), including expression of self through metaphor, which safely allows participants to explore more deeply.
  • Offers a protocol of activities that facilitate spirited and fun interaction, providing opportunity to engage and include group members resistant to more conventional methods.
  • Creates a neural bridge that reconnects, integrates and reinforces areas of brain function – most notably domains of cognitive and emotional functioning – in a mutually beneficial and empowering way.
  • Allows for multitude levels processing to occur simultaneously, including cognitive, emotional, social, behavioral and developmental.

For the Mountain Valley clinical program, Expressive Arts organizes the education and concepts of acceptance-based ERP into a program of expression and play.


  • Chasen, L., (2014) Engaging Mirror Neurons to Inspire Connection and Social Emotional Development in Children and Teens on the Autism Spectrum: Theory into Practice through Drama Therapy. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • Damasio, A. (1999) The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.
  • Dancing and the Brain. http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute
  • Hesdorffer, D., Trimble, M. Music and the brain: the neuroscience of music and musical appreciation. BJPsych Int. 2017 May; 14(2): 28–31.
  • Meyer, K., Damasio, A. Convergence and divergence in a neural architecture for recognition and memory. Trends in Neurosciences Vol.32 No.7, (2009) 376-382
  • Zaidel, D. Creativity, brain, and art: biological and neurological considerations Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2014; 8: 389 https://dx.doi.org/10.3389%2Ffnhum.2014.00389

Questions for Us?

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