Art in the Studio
Healing through the arts does not take place only in the context of support groups and therapists’ offices. Healing occurs, whether intentionally or not, in the studio as well. “You can heal yourself with writing, poetry, journals, essays, stories, storytelling, or theater. Music, songs, tones, chanting, silence, sounds of nature, and dance, movement, ritual, circle dancing, and ecstatic dance are all deeply healing” (Samuels and Rockwood Lane 1998, p.2). Some artists, writers, and performers are quite open about the healing nature of their work, while others dislike thinking about their art as “therapeutic” and prefer to keep the focus on the finished product. Of course, those of us who are not professional artists can also tap into creative expression to heal ourselves.
Why might we choose to work independently with our creative process, rather than with a therapist or support group? Some people simply feel more comfortable working privately. Perhaps they have not had positive experiences in therapeutic settings in the past, or they may already have a clear sense of the creative work they need to engage in for their recovery. For some individuals, the creative process itself may provide enough structure for them to make a solo foray into the heart of their feelings. Others may not even think of what they do as healing or therapeutic; they just follow their urge to make something to commemorate a loss.
Artists of all kinds often understand intuitively the transformational process that creativity allows; they use the metaphorical spinning out and re-knitting of their stories to heal their grief and trauma. Many participants in the Secret Club Project, both professional artists and those who are not, have reported deep healing experiences through making art on their own.
Kohner and Henley (1995, p.92) observe: “Creating a way of remembering a baby can itself be comforting because it means concentrating on the baby and