June 2022

Welcome from Mark and Helen

It has been a while since we provided an update on our Expressive Therapies programs and plans. We have plenty planned for 2022 and 2023. As we step down from university teaching, we are increasing our ET programs, and bringing our clinical experience, teaching experience and love of research to enhance our professional and personal development courses.



We have been around for a while! Having just completed our work within Australian Universities, we return our primary focus to our own Expressive Therapies Australia programs and generating some new and updated literature.



Sandplay & Symbol Work - published 21 years ago

Emotional Release for Children - International edition published 18 years ago

Emotional Healing & Self Esteem - International edition published 18 years ago

Using Expressive Arts - published 13 years ago


Certificate Courses

Certificate in Expressive Therapies with Children & Adolescents - Offered continuously for 33 years

Certificate in Sandplay Therapy & Symbol Work - Offered continuously for 31 years


Program Updates and Revivals

Expressive Therapies in Groupwork: Innerspace

The Innerspace groupwork programs are being offered again in 2022. These 3-day trainings have been developed in Australia (since 2006) to prepare you to conduct groups of school students, counselling and agency clients to use expressive therapies to pursue personal development, identify their feelings and communicate about them. With the widespread impact of Covid measures, and news reports of war, there appears to be a great need to build young people's resilience. The deepening of social bonds through groupwork is one effective way to build this.


Innerspace helps with working through any issues that may be impacting on learning, behaviour, social development, wellbeing and resilience. The activities build emotional literacy, confidence and resilience. There are two levels: LEVEL ONE: Junior - for students 7 to 9 years and LEVEL TWO: Middle School - for students 10 to 14 years


These proactive groupwork programs are activity based, and use the theory of multiple intelligences to ensure that all students can confidently participate. They develop self-awareness and communication skills, and while written and verbal skills are enhanced, they are also designed to support self-esteem and peer bonding. Innerspace helps students open up and share their concerns, learn how to relax and enhance emotional resilience. They are a weekly program, conducted in small groups for about 90 minutes a week over eight weeks, designed to be conducted by trained school, agency or private practice staff who are known to the students. Experience has shown that most students enjoy the activities in the program, which use writing, drawing, worksheets, imagination, movement and relaxation.


The programs were developed with the support of two teams of advisors, in Queensland and Victoria. The team members work in schools, agencies or private practice in the areas of special education, behaviour management, counselling, art therapy or as Guidance Officers. They have all provided generous input and enthusiasm for researching and enhancing the program's effectiveness. Further research evidence was provided by Zigtermann in 2010. Her research through the University of Southern Queensland provided empirical data on the way Innerspace (Level Two) can increase students' emotional literacy, increase prosocial behaviour and decrease overall difficulties.


Certificate in Expressive Therapies with Adult Clients

In March 2023 we are re-launching our Certificate course for using ET with adult clients. This course is designed as specialised advanced training for counsellors, psychotherapists, social workers, psychologists and those who support mental health and wellbeing. It introduces the theories, principles, methods and evidence base for applying Expressive Therapies in counselling with adult clients. Our ET approach was developed from Creative Arts Therapies, using an integrative and pluralistic framework. The course weaves together creative arts, person-centred therapy, emotion-focused and somatic therapies. The course is founded on transpersonal perspectives, in addition to trauma-informed sensitivity that creates a highly practical approach. It is based on evidence from research, and clinical observations from a combined 70 years of consulting, supervising and teaching. The course combines theoretical, experiential and skills development activities, and reviews the evidence base for ET.


The course comprises five x 3-day in-person training modules, three x 2-hour online classes, equivalent to 16 training days (106 hours), spread over six months.  This course aims to equip you with the skills and understanding to work with multiple effective and practical tools for helping adult clients with self-discovery, emotional healing, and the underlying personal and spiritual quests. 


While the focus is experiential professional development, the course provides many opportunities for participants to gain in self-awareness and personal growth. Experiences in the client role, provide a rich experience of the inner world that can enhance participants' professional relational effectiveness. Practitioners' own growth has a direct influence on clients' growth. Developing deeper self-awareness greatly improves the way we relate professionally, and care for ourselves personally.


What's New?

ET back in Singapore

In December 2022, Mark returns to Singapore to present the Certificate in Expressive Therapies with children and Adolescents. Last offered there in 2017, the course had been popular since 2001. While our local trainer, Paula Huggins, now offers our Certificate in Sandplay Therapy & Symbol Work, she will assist with the ET with Children course and hopefully become another ETA trainer for this course in the future. For information go to:   Paula Huggins - Expressive Therapist and Counsellor - Gentle Art of Expressive Therapy


Mindfulness Weekends

These highly experiential weekend workshops, teach multiple approaches to developing mindfulness and expressing self-awareness through creative arts activities. For most of us, our surrounding culture in our developmental years trains us to be externally focused, and to re-visit or regret the past and worry about the future. There are many ways to step into the present. In these workshops we explore somatic focusing, gentle movement, emotional awareness, observation of automatic thought processes, self-compassion, as well as ways to use the senses to arrive in the moment. Mindfulness has been shown to lead to increases in wellbeing and therapeutic presence when we are supporting others. The next mindfulness weekend workshop is in November, 2022.


Comments on the May program:

"The facilitation was excellent, the facilitator and workshop program created a safe, comfortable environment to explore personal and professional ideas and values"

"A highlight was experiencing opportunities to be mindful, awareness of thoughts, and returning to self." - Gisela, Social Worker and Counsellor.

"I have enjoyed the training so much. I loved the grounding exercises and the integration, especially the body scan and use of clay with the Self-Compassion Break. I feel relaxed and energized to try these new activities with clients." - Angie, Social Worker

"I love the transferability of the activities. There is something for everyone: I love this aspect of Expressive Therapies. It is collaborative and inclusive" - counsellor


New One-day Trainings:

Finding Freedom from the Inner Critic - Increasing Self-Compassion

Reducing self-criticism appears to be a foundational challenge in all counselling. This highly practical one-day training offers creative arts-based and self-reflective approaches for identifying and disempowering automatic negative thoughts critical of the self. The Expressive Therapy tools of visual art, symbol work, self-discovery worksheets, emotion-focused role-play and dialoguing with parts, will be introduced. This day for therapy professionals, while focused on supporting adult clients, provides much that can also be applied with younger clients. Next program is October 2022.


Dream Symbols as Doorways to Self-Knowledge - Creative Arts support for adult clients

Since way before the development of Western psychotherapy, healers have used dreams as a way of understanding the inner world. This one-day training introduces dreamwork methods that have evolved from our practice over 30 years, and are based on both Gestalt and Jungian theory. You will explore verbal, artistic and somatic approaches, including developing a dream scene with miniatures, the psycho-dramatic role-play method, as well as free-association and active imagination processes. Next program is in September, 2022.


Music, Metaphor and Movement in Counselling - Creative arts support for clients of all ages.

Music can help us access personal metaphors associated with both implicit and explicit aspects of the psyche. The creative arts have been identified as one way to increase emotional intelligence. In this highly experiential one-day program, you will explore multiple ways to support clients of all ages to interact with music to foster deeper self-awareness and enhance emotional intelligence. We will explore responding to recorded music through visual arts, movement and selections of miniatures. You will also explore rhythmic and movement-based strategies that integrate body awareness and spontaneity, to support client wellbeing, reflection, communication and relaxation. Next program September, 2022.


What's in the pipeline?

New book in preparation: We have made advances in finalising our new book - Child and Adolescent Counselling with Expressive Therapies: Practical, pluralistic, creative arts approaches.


Early in 2023 we will relocate our training and consulting rooms to the north side of Brisbane. Our 2023 programs will be conducted there. We will announce our new venue late in 2022.


A Note on the Growing Evidence Base for ET

There are many types of evidence. In academic circles there is a notion that only randomised controlled trials (RCTs) count as 'real' evidence, and so approaches to counselling that are backed by these studies and assumed to be superior. However, the American Psychological Association states "Evidence-based practice is the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture and preferences" (Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology ( Obviously, application of an approach without clinical expertise is meaningless, and consideration of individual client needs and preferences is also essential. Finding what works for your client today is a counsellor's ongoing research project, or quest.


As well as formal research projects, the practice observations from experienced therapists can inform ET. Some of the evidence the Australian form of ET is based on emerged from many years of clinical experience, participating in and providing clinical supervision, and the sharing of observations and discoveries through many conferences and books and peer-reviewed papers. Some of the research areas that can add up to guidance and affirmation of current ET practice include: interpersonal neuroscience, trauma recovery, art therapy, dance and movement therapy, sandplay therapy and depression and anxiety outcomes studies. Within the creative arts therapies research, there are findings from individual and multiple case studies at one end of the spectrum, and RCTs and meta-analyses of past studies at the other end. Research on pluralistic practice is rapidly emerging, and this field is also most relevant to ET. 


For access to our research writing go to:



What is ET?

The Australian form of Expressive Therapies has been largely developed by Mark Pearson and Helen Wilson over the last 33 years. This integrative and pluralistic approach combines: Art and Music in counselling, Symbol work (use of miniatures), Sandplay Therapy, Somatic focus, Relaxation, Mindfulness and other Self-awareness activities, Therapeutic and Expressive writing, Self-discovery worksheets, Visualisation, Drama and Role-play, Emotion-focused processes, Bioenergetics and movement activities, Self-esteem activities using meditative techniques, within a client-centred counselling approach.


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