Grief Unseen: Healing Pregnancy Loss through the Arts

By Laura Seftel | Go to book overview

5
Art in Therapy

The arts in therapeutic settings

Creative expression has always been a central part of how human beings make sense of their place in the world. In non-industrial societies, the arts were usually seen as inseparable from ritual. Malchiodi (2002, p.172) observes: “In this era of high-priced galleries and competitive celebrity artists, we sometimes forget that art’s primary role since the dawn of humanity has been to nourish the sacred dimension of life.” The arts have become dissociated from the stream of life as artistic creation has increasingly become the function of the specialist. In our definition of art, we differentiate “professional art” from “folk art,” “fine arts” from “crafts.” Such distinctions impede the understanding of the arts as a basic expression of human experience.

In traditional communities in India, for example, art is rooted in rituals. The visual and performing arts incorporate rituals to invoke the gods, remove obstacles, celebrate the rites of passage, and mark the turning points in the cycle of death and renewal. In another example, sand paintings are used by the Navajo as part of an interactive healing ceremony including prayers and songs in effect, as spiritual medicine. The sand paintings and chants are considered holy and invite the patient to enter a state of health. In ceremonies of this kind, art is not seen as an object to be hung in a museum; rather, it is integrated into the life of the community

Western culture and its reliance on scientific empiricism has separated and compartmentalized the arts, medicine, and spirituality. Only recently has the healthcare establishment begun to rediscover the medicinal potential of creative expression that traditional societies have tapped into for centuries. All over the world, there seems to be a renaissance creating new partnerships between art and medicine.

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Grief Unseen: Healing Pregnancy Loss through the Arts
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Foreword 9
  • Acknowledgments 13
  • Introduction- a Grief without a Shape 15
  • 1- My Story 21
  • 2- Losing a Dream 27
  • 3- Griefwork 57
  • 4- Singing the Silence 69
  • 5- Art in Therapy 95
  • 6- Art in the Studio 109
  • 7- Lost Traditions - Butter, Toads, and Miracles 125
  • 8- New Rituals - The Creative Response to Loss 139
  • 9- Creating Your Own Healing Practice through the Arts 149
  • 10- Creative Activities 155
  • Conclusion 173
  • References 175
  • Further Reading 181
  • Useful Organizations 183
  • Subject Index 187
  • Author Index 191
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