By Judith Rasband, AICI CIM and Dani Slaugh, Conselle Affiliate While talk is the traditional specific mode of expression in psychotherapy and counseling, expressive image therapy introduces other forms of self-expression, namely clothing and grooming. This adds the tangible, hands-on, everyday action of dressing and grooming to the process of psychotherapy. We know the fastest way to lift someone out of a depressive mood is to improve the way he or she looks. Immediately we get a smile, maybe a sigh, maybe a woo-hoo! It works wonders! An action-oriented method of communication, expressive image therapy has potential to speed the process of psychotherapy. For some clients, self-expression through dress and grooming may be a corrective experience all on its own. Client experiences are sensory in nature, be it visual, tactile, or auditory-most likely all three channels encouraging healthy values and attachments, allowing the brain to establish new, more productive, and corrective patterns. For all clients, the experience of working with clothing design elements in selection, styling, dressing, and grooming can actually energize clients, re-direct attention and focus, alleviate emotional stress, allowing clients to more fully concentrate on issues, adaptive behaviors, and goals.
Thinning and shaping thick brows from below lifts her visual expression and her self perception.
Image management consultants, counselors, and expressive image therapists are agents of change. They invite and encourage clients to engage in a process of self-exploration and self-expression with the objective of communicating thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and experiences in ways not always accomplished with words alone. To be effective, consultants and therapists give their clients opportunities to become active participants in their own treatment. Dress and grooming become primary modes of communication. The process enhances the clients’ ability to quickly communicate in creative and unique ways that are relevant, authentic, and effective-using the senses to bring about change. Image management consultants, counselors, and therapists generally harbor a passion for the art and science of image as well as for the people they are preparing to help. In providing for their own needs, image therapists continually nurture and develop their own creativity in harmonious dress and grooming. Function in the field requires a knowledge of visual design in dress and grooming, and the creative process, as well as of human development, psychotherapy, counseling theories and techniques. It may be practiced in mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational, wellness, private practice and community settings with diverse client populations in individual, group, and family therapy formats, enabling clients to practice positive image management, a life skill they need to be prepared and productive adults. As of today, expressive image therapy is virtually unknown in schools and colleges or universities, wellness centers, treatment centers and hospitals, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, and other community or clinical settings. While it may be practiced to a minimum degree in terms of wardrobing, shopping, or makeover sessions, image therapy is generally unrecognized and undeveloped with the exception of the Conselle Institute of Image Management.
Anxiety disorder fills the victim with fear. Self expression through self presentation in dress and grooming can literally set them free.
Membership in the Expressive Image Therapy Association signals that we are active participants in the field of image therapy, dedicated to the growth of the field and to increasing knowledge in this specialized therapeutic practice. If you’d like to know more, or know someone else who may be interested in this career option, contact us at Conselle, 801-224-1207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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