The Spirited School Counselor

Expressive Arts and Brief Therapy


Expressive Arts & BriefWhile at VCA I attended two sessions on art and counseling. Although both sessions focused on two different populations and with two different theories I left feeling very encouraged to incorporate more art in my therapy sessions.

Jamie Wyatt, from a Community Service Board in Virginia, spoke about his experience using brief therapy techniques and expressive arts with clients living in homelessness. I found this session really impactful, especially when he spoke about the importance each session holds – assuming that each session, even the very first session, is the last session. After my internship this last semester I found that many of the students I encountered I was only seeing one time or that they transferred over night and I was unaware that our last session was ourĀ last session. Since VCA I have made an effort to look at each session as possibly the last session with that client. I found that doing this made these sessions more meaningful.

Mr. Wyatt spoke about the basics of brief therapy – finding the survivor in the client, gaining an understanding of the problem(s) and attempted solutions/possible solutions. He also mentioned the importance of celebrating with the client and finding hope with the client.

Here are a few of the ways he suggested incorporating expressive arts into a counseling session:

  • Have a client use a sand tray to create his/her world of hope. Ask the client questions like: “How are you like this object?” “What is it about this object that brings hope?”
  • Ask the client to create a collage before a miracle and after a miracle (in schools I would change the wording to wish, change, or hope). Ask the client questions like: “Why did you change that?” “What helps you when you feel certain emotions?”
  • Ask the client to -act, write, draw, move, play, dance, talk, express in some way – what they would do if they had 24 hours left to live.

Each of the above activities pairs nicely with a brief therapy question:

  • “If you had a picture of hope on your wall that you would look at each day, what would it look like?”
  • The miracle question – “If a miracle happened while you were sleeping tonight how would you know the problem was gone?”
  • “If you had 24 hours left to live what would you regret not having done?”

Do you incorporate expressive arts into school counseling? If so, how?

Do you have any recommended reading on the topic?

Thanks for stopping by!



Author: thespiritedschoolcounselor

Hey there! I started blogging about my experiences through graduate school and now have continued as a working school counselor. I am currently working in an elementary school but try hard to keep up-to-date on all things school counselor, as well as topics in education. I hope to share ideas, document what I am doing, network, be inspired, inspire, and collaborate with others through this blog. My professional portfolio can be found here: Thanks for stopping by!

2 thoughts on “Expressive Arts and Brief Therapy

  1. Pingback: Virginia Counselor’s Association Convention Update | The Spirited School Counselor

  2. Pingback: When clients don’t turn up (it’s not you! Probably…) | Trainee Therapist

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