Expressive Therapy as a Treatment Preference for Aboriginal Trauma


This article provides the theoretical rationale and overview of the client preference and the best practice approach for counselling Aboriginal people and offering the expressive therapies as a treatment option for trauma. Aboriginal peoples have used expressive therapies including art, dance, music, drama, and storytelling throughout their history including pre-European contact. The expressive therapies involve a strong experiential element that provides holistic healing that the verbal therapies are less able to offer. This article explores the links between the expressive therapies, experiential education, healing traumas, and Aboriginal culture. The traumas specified in this article are related to the negative effects of colonialism and residential schools. Examining these and related dynamics with consideration of best practices, ethics, preference effect, historical traumas, colonialist attitudes, and social justice yields some strong conclusions and recommendations. These findings should be of interest to Aboriginal communities and those engaged with Aboriginal people including policy makers, governments, counsellors, funding bodies, academics, healers, and health professionals.

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