Healing Through Creativity

Georges Braque, French 2oth century painter is credited through his collaboration with Pablo Picasso as being the father of cubism.  In 1914, at age 32, he was drafted to serve in World War I, where he fought in the trenches.  He suffered a serious head wound which left him temporally blind.  His vision recovered but his style and perception of the world forever changed.  He continued to paint after the war, but his work changed dramatically.  One of his famous quotes about his time in the war and the long journey in recovery is, “Art is a wound turned into light”.

As a young girl was haunted by Van Gogh’s struggle with mental illness after watching the 1956 movie Lust for Life. I became curious how creativity and mental health intersect.  Early in my career I came to understand the therapeutic benefits found within creative expressions.  The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) is dedicated to integrating creative processes while applying psychological theory to the human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.  Combat Veterans returning from home with acute psychological conditions have found expressive and creative arts help give voice to feeling of depression and anxiety.  Expressive and creative artistic expressions in conjunction with mental health counselling have reduced anxiety mood disorders, behaviors that interfere with emotional and cognitive functioning, aids in verbalizing traumatic events and reactivate a sense of purpose, self-worth, and self-esteem.

Loss and creativity are two essential parts of the human experience.  There are two types of creativity: innovative and expressive.  Innovative creativity is best suited as problem solving while expressive creativity can transform negative energy by channeling emotions into art, photography, crafting or writing.  Clinical psychologist Henry Seidan, PH.D. is quoted, “Creativity is the essential response to grief”.  Grief comes to the human experience in many ways: death, loss of identity, physical independence, and functioning, thinking of what might have been, could have been.

What does the brain look like “on grief”?  The left hemisphere specializes in positive emotions like joy and hope and the right hemisphere dispenses emotions like anxiety.  Unsurprisingly, the right hemisphere, is more active during periods of grief.  “The main problem during grieving seems to be the relative deactivation of the left hemisphere rather than an over-activation of the right hemisphere”, says Shelley Carson author of “Your Creative Brain, Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination”.    Tapping into our creative source after trauma and loss may be difficult.   Grief and acute response to trauma are natural and unavoidable.  Therapy encourages people to go deep, to tap into something lost or even undiscovered.  By channeling negative emotions that cause blockages and allowing the creative energy to flow the creative process unfolds.  Nurturing creativity can be a form of self-care, so carving time to solve puzzles, playing an instrument or grabbing brushes, paints, and a canvas to gives voice and outlet to the pain.

“Art making has the ability to move people along their journey of grief and loss into a more balanced place of healing and hope. In the face of tragedy, the creative process can help re-calibrate a mourner’s life.” ~ The Chandler Gallery at Maud Morgan Arts

Talk therapy that incorporates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy along with immersing oneself in creative endeavors can be transformative.  Practice self-care, give yourself permission to create and call Cornerstone Centers for Wellbeing if your need to talk to a professional mental counselor, at 1-866-280-9355.

Be well and find your center, Wendy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>