Pain from trauma can remain stuck in the heart, mind, soul, and body for decades. Finding ways to release the pain, the suppressed memories and feelings is essential for continued healing. One tool that God has led me to use is art therapy. I don’t personally know any art therapists, but that has not mattered. I am not an “artist” but that does not matter either.
Don't worry. This isn't like art in elementary school--no one is going to grade your art. You do not need to show your creation to anyone. It is the process of creating that is healing. If you want to share it with someone you trust, then do so--but it is fine to keep it private.
I urge you to experiment with this powerful recovery tool. So far, here are some of the art projects that have helped me to heal:
- Creating magazine picture collages to help me visualize who I want to be or to reveal pain I am facing.
- Finger-painting nothing in particular, just letting the colors and the textures express pent up emotion.
- Writing certain poems with a crayon
- Sculpting out of clay, letting my mind shut off and allowing my hands to find a shape in the mound of clay.
- Sketching or painting scenes of God’s beautiful creation renews feelings of hope and connection with God
- Making a shadow box of my journey
- Creating different bulletin boards (like elementary school teachers do). On those boards, I highlight the lessons God is teaching me.
- Making floral arrangements to remind myself of God’s grace and beauty.
- Designing signs to hang up using the graphic tools on the computer.
- Creating posters on construction paper.
- Decorating a prayer shoe box.
If you think that you could never create anything, it is time to reconsider. Everyone has God-endowed creativity. If you find it difficult to make anything with art materials then look for other forms of creativity. Do like to dance? To make music? To bake? To work on fixing engines? To build things out of wood? To write things in sand? To paint rooms? Is there anything you do that creates or alters something in a way that enhances your life? When you’re angry, create with speed and large motions. When you are depressed, allow color reflect where you are at or express yourself with slow fluid motion.
Give art a try. Release emotions and live more abundantly.When you have pent up feelings or need to understand your thoughts or reactions, get creative.
Tanya T. Warrington