Welcome to the
Expressive Therapies
Institute of Australia

Over 30 years of quality training


Helen Wilson

Hello. My name is Mark Pearson and this is Helen Wilson. click here for Mark and Helen's backgrounds, biographical notes and publications)

The Expressive Therapies Institute Australia has created and provides specialised extension training courses in create arts therapies and Sandplay Therapy for counsellors, guidance officers, psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers, social workers and child-care workers.

See our article on the evolution of Sandplay Therapy applications - click on: Update on sandplay therapy - Research Article

You can follow Mark on Twitter: @MPearson62 - tweeting articles and news of interest for counsellors

ABOUT US: We started our collaboration 30 years ago, and The Expressive Therapies Institute emerged 27 years ago, and since then we have trained thousands of graduates from many parts of the world in the various modalities of Expressive Therapies (ET). We were originally based in Brisbane, and then we lived and worked near Fremantle, Western Australia (to work at the University of Notre Dame Australia), and then we re-located to Adelaide (to work for the University of Adelaide), and perhaps we have completed the cycle by returning to Queensland, and settling on the Sunshine Coast (to work at the University of the Sunshine Coast). The Expressive Therapies Institute programs are now taught all around Australia, and in S. E. Asia, by a highly experienced team of trainers.

Our two courses "Certificate in Expressive Therapies with Children and Adolescents" and the "Certificate in Sandplay Therapy & Symbol Work" have been recognised by The Australian Creative Arts Therapies Association for membership eligibility, and by the Australian Counselling Association and various PACFA member associations for PD points.
We have two senior trainers who teach our courses: Jo Ablett in Victoria, and Kerna Thomas, in Cairns. These trainers have all had extensive training in their fields, as well as extensive ET training, and long-term supervision with us - the course creators.

Our Certificate in Expressive Therapies with Children and Adolescents has now been continuously developed and taught around Australia for over 30 years!

Helen has established a new supervision and counselling practice from her Expressive Therapies studio, at our home, in beautiful Maroochy River (12 minutes inland from Coolum Beach, Queensland, offering both in-person and online sessions. Helen's studio is also the venue for the training courses we offer.

Using Expressive Arts to Work with mind, body and emotion. Theory and Practice. - Dr Mark Pearson and Helen Wilson, Jessica Kingsley Publications, London. Distributed in Australia by Footprint Books - www.foortprint.com.au  Phone 02 9997 3973
Expressive Therapies (ET) are multiple intelligence tools for counselling with clients of all ages. They are easily used because of the way they allow the individual to access deeper levels of the psyche at their own pace and level. ET methods are self-balancing, self-regulating and non-intrusive.

Obviously they will not be applicable in every case, but their effectiveness in a growing number of counselling situations across all age groups has brought them into serious prominence.

The Expressive Therapies taught by in the Institute's courses are: Sandplay Therapy, Symbol Work, Dreamwork, Process Drawing, Mandala Artwork, Emotion-focused Processes, Bioenergetics, Body Focus, Movement and Dance, Visualisation, Therapeutic Writing and use of art.

Expressive Therapy techniques are applicable to children, adolescents and adults alike. Our book, Sandplay & Symbol Work (2001) is still Australia's only text on the subject of Sandplay Therapy and our own creation of Symbol Work, and is in use as a text in a number of countries. Now only available as an eBook: https://www.ebooks.com/243439/sandplay-and-symbol-work/pearson-m-wilson-helen

We have worked with a number of world experts including Stan Grof (Grof's Holotropic Paradigm) and Ruth Amman (Sandplay Therapy pioneer and Past-President of the International Society for Sandplay Therapy), and are inspired by Cooper and McLeod's movement of PLuralistic Counselling.

Thank you for coming here.

Among professionals, many counsellors and psychologists find that ET training gives them valuable, practical counselling skills. Our ET courses have Australian Counselling Association Recognition for PD points.

Counsellors and Guidance Officers in schools, government and in private practice find them useful, beneficial tools in day-to-day work.

Teachers have found ET techniques can help children self-manage problems and improve behaviours.

'The child does the work itself, coming to realisations easily and intuitively with marked improvements in personality, application and learning skills. In the case of one 8 year-old girl , if she arrived at school in a distressed state she would ask to use the sand-play area and, usually within half to three-quarters of an hour, she would return to the class and announce she was now ready to go to work - a huge transformation'
Sunshine Coast, Queensland
And, in the words of an already highly qualified Art Therapist:

'My confidence has grown. I am happy now to try new activities and to make changes to suit the needs of children. ET is infectious, and I want to know so much more. This feels the right thing to be doing. It marries with Art Therapy well.'
Liz Kinnane - Art Therapist / Counsellor, Melbourne

We offer Certificate Level Courses that incorporate all the ET modalities - Sandplay Therapy, Symbol Work, Dreamwork, Process Drawing, Mandala Artwork, Emotion-focused Processes, Bioenergetics, Body Focus, Visualisation, Expressive Writing - and use of art.

'(the) course was experiential, transformative and creative. ET for children and adolescents is one the most authentic and effective healing tools that I have experienced'
Primrose White, Psychologist,
Convener of APS Interest Group on Child Psychology, Melbourne

Where possible we provide links to the home website of the author/s of papers we use or quote from, or to other websites that may offer more information related to it.
In Mark's study conducted among graduate-level, ET trained Guidance Officers and Counsellors in primary and secondary schools in Australia, there was a reported 71% increase in the effectiveness of positive emotional and behavioural outcomes compared with the counselling methods used prior to (ET) training.

See: Pearson, M. (2003). Guidance officer and counsellor perspectives on using expressive therapies to support students. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 13(2), 205 - 224.   

Summary the outcomes included:

Positive improvement in client/counsellor relationships (100%)
Improved client motivation to attend and participate in counselling sessions (mean average 65%)

Clients were:

  1. less troubled by incidences
  2. more in control of feelings
  3. less depressed
  4. less defensive
  5. more open to change
  6. participated more fully in sessions
  7. had improved self-esteem
  8. accepted reality more easily

In addition, there were outcomes beyond the counselling room including;

  1. an exhibited emotional well-being and a calm state at school and at home
  2. reduced aggression and a positive improvement in behaviour
  3. improved relationships and positive feedback from school staff
  4. increased self-acceptance
  5. confidence in engaging in school activities
  6. improved participation in school work
  7. self and peer-referral to counselling

Sandplay and Symbol Work were found to be the most helpful ET modalities and the modalities most favoured by clients. Sandplay uses more of the multiple intelligences than other counselling modalities (O'Brien & Burnett, 2000) and therefore offers more choices in emotional processing for clients.

Expressive Art was the second most widely used and favoured modality in ET and the second most effective counselling tool in the opinion of these Guidance Officers and school Counsellors. (see also: Art and Process Drawing and Mandala Artwork.
Our training programs have been operating around Australia for over 30 years and we consult and train internationally. The Expressive Therapies Institute courses are  available outside Australia in Singapore.

We offer professional Certificate courses and training workshops - from one-day, to 15 days - throughout the year - frequently in Brisbane, Cairns, Victoria, Perth, Adelaide, Singapore and in wherever there is interest and need. In 2017 we completed the Certificate in Sandplay Therapy & Symbol Work for a large group of therapists in the Czech Republic, the the Department of Psychology at Palacky University in beautiful Olomouc.

Current courses are listed in the Calendar section of the site and can be searched by course and by location. 
Please contact us direct on info @ expressivetherapies.com.au for detailed flyers,  and registration forms.

To the many social workers, teachers, counsellors, therapists, psychologists and others whom we have already trained in these areas, thank you for your acceptance and enthusiasm for ET.

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