Why do humans create art? Of course, the answers to this question are infinite, but many commonalities exist. Through songs, paintings, and more, we can express ourselves. Through art, we can share our thoughts, including those that scare or make us uncomfortable. Different parts of our brain work when we choreograph a dance or write a poem. This reality is particularly crucial when it comes to healing trauma.
Almost everyone who has endured a traumatic event can attest to how challenging it is to speak about it. Tools like a paintbrush or piano keys can help release the emotions you need to feel and resolve. This is where Art Therapy comes in.
What is Trauma?
More people than you may realize experience a traumatic event. Such events can include, among other things, abuse, natural disasters, illness, abandonment, and neglect. Terrible circumstances may leave us unable to process what has happened. This is especially true for children. As a result, a traumatized person frequently displays signs and symptoms like:
- Intrusive thoughts
- Nightmares and other sleep disturbances
- Social isolation
All of this (and more) happens because the brain cannot productively store the negative memory. The body holds onto the trauma. Thus, the survivor exists in a perpetual state of fight-or-flight — until they have found healthy ways to cope with the past.
What is Art Therapy?
Anyone, at any time, can use art as a conduit for healing. Art therapy, however, is a proven therapeutic method that blends traditional talk therapy with creativity. Emotional issues, it’s been shown, can be managed by people of all ages by embracing a creative outlet. This is not just for artists. When it comes to art therapy, expression far outweighs perceived “talent.”
Working with an experienced art therapist can bring you improvements in areas like:
- Social skills
- Cognitive function
- Sensory-motor functions
- Conflict resolution
- Feeling safe
That last item is so important for a trauma survivor. Understandably, someone who has been hurt or betrayed has a hard time trusting others. They don’t feel safe talking about what happened to them. Artistic creations, however, exist outside of us. A painting, a poem, or a sculpture is external — even though you created them. In this way, art becomes an outlet. It bridges the gap between expression and safety.
The Benefits of Art Therapy for Trauma
Trauma is nonverbal. It defies description. You can’t put it into everyday words. Art gives you a platform to use creative words, notes, brush strokes, and more. As touched on above, the language of art is metaphorical and lyrical. It allows you to express what is deeply rooted inside you — without causing you to relive the experience. What a relief it is to share what you feel without feeling unsafe! It’s one of the most joyful benefits of art therapy. Here are two more:
Whether it be family, friends, partners, co-workers, and beyond, art therapy restores your confidence in communication. In turn, this serves as a foundation to help you become more open to new connections while you rebuild any relationships that suffered from trauma.
More Positive Emotions
Creative energy is positive energy. As you bring new art into the world, it benefits your mind and body. Your self-image improves and your body begins to heal. Trauma survivors may seek out unhealthy coping mechanisms. Experiencing the benefits of art therapy gives them something productive to use as a replacement.
Is Art Therapy Right For You?
Almost certainly, you can find solace and healing in artistic expression. If trauma has impacted your life, it can be even more valuable! We now have 2 certified Art Therapists in our Leonardtown office (Sarah even has Saturday hours!!) who are available to help you or your child work through their trauma or any other issues that are stopping you or them from living a full life. You can schedule with Sarah or Kelly here now or reach out to us here. We’ve got you!