Mental Health And The Creative Arts Process
My absolute passion and true belief is that creativity accessed through an expressive art form can not only benefit mental health but also emotional health, physical health and challenge deeply seated beliefs that have been outgrown or not recognised by a person but still influences them in a way that isn’t healthy.
In my experience and from what I’ve learned facilitating others, the arts are therapeutic in themselves. Creative projects involving art, drama, poetry and music offer spaces where meanings can be generated, different roles can be explored safely, confidence can be encouraged and self-acceptance nurtured. These are the essential ingredients of recovery! We often submerge events, situations or experiences, from our conscious minds to our unconscious that trigger feelings of guilt, shame, rejection, loss or abandonment for example. The arts process provides the space for you to explore these feelings in a non-directive way within a safe and supported environment where you can ‘witness’ them through an art medium, reflect and even perceive them in a different way giving you the space for self-compassion, understanding and healing.
The creative process itself is fast becoming recognised to have therapeutic value in promoting general well-being, including mental health. Research that has been conducted both Internationally and within the UK, has found that many people with mental health problems find arts therapies helpful, either on their own or as part of a range of therapies, which may include medication and talking treatments. Here are the top 5 benefits from my experiences of how the creative arts process supports mental health:
It puts you in touch with your expression - a channel for which emotions and feelings can be explored in a tangible way. Words can sometimes get in the way of what we truly feel or camouflage our feelings, making it hard to understand root causes and express them fully. Expression is a healthy outlet that comes from the core of who you are - it doesn’t matter what you’re expressing, it’s the act in itself that is healing and valuable.
You can activate the witness - meaning the creative arts process creates the space for you to reflect, understand and make meaning out of your experiences without triggering feelings of guilt that might ordinarily make you hold back or repress what you feel because on some level you feel bad about it. I help people to gently reflect and talk openly about what they have created through an art form and how it makes them feel. It’s an intuitive process and can be really healing when you acknowledge your true feelings without fear based thoughts getting in the way.
It gives you back the control - when we’re trying to face something, change something or heal something it can often feel so big and almost impossible to do and so it’s easy to slip into feelings of despair and hopelessness. We feel we have no power and it can be crushing. When you’re engaging with the creative arts - you’re reclaiming that power because you’re creating something - you’re not reacting to anyone or anything else, it’s just about you. This in turn stimulates the ‘doing’ part of you that helps you to feel like you’re taking some sort of action towards facing your fears, anxieties, problems or challenging situations. You are taking charge, being accountable and accepting truths, no matter how hard because you’re ready for things to change or improve. Your creative energy, when channeled in this way, gives you back your power.
It reconnects you back to yourself - your identity, who you are, what you stand for and your truth. When you’re expressing yourself in a creative way, you can’t fake it - there is no folly involved, it is what it is. The more you can let go and just do whatever it is you feel you want to, the more insight you can get from what you’ve produced. If you don’t get very much ‘me time’ this is a great way to create some of that and can be so rewarding to engage in - one lady at my last workshop described it as ‘pure bliss’.
It creates a listening mindset - we are always so busy with our lives, fulfilling our roles within our families and work, we barely get 5 minutes to ourselves and are constantly ignoring our aches and pains within our bodies and situations that we’re dealing with that can leave us feeling like we’re just ‘functioning’ and not really living. The creative arts process engages all the senses where we can really start to listen to ourselves, offer the time and space that we need to be heard - by ourselves…and not to ignore it, just simply accept it, acknowledge it and respond.
I will be running another workshop entitled - Intuitive HeART Workshop in November (18th) following on from the Introduction to Therapeutic Arts session held previously in October. I’ll be introducing some of the Therapeutic art processes if you missed the last one but this time with more of a focus on channeling your own intuition. I’ll be teaching you how to reflect on what you create to help you unlock your own wisdom and intuitive guidance. So, if you’d like to experience a wonderfully supportive environment with like-minded people and are open to trying the creative arts to tap into your intuition then please join us! If you’d like more information about it please get in touch and I will send you an official invitation for you to book your place. Here are a few comments from those that attended the Introduction workshop…