Creating Your Own Healing
Practice Through the Arts
You will find gentle and supportive activities including making art, writing, and creating rituals. These creative exercises are designed to help you open the door to non-verbal expression and healing. You need no special ability or training in the arts in order to engage in these activities. These ideas can be used equally well by both individuals and by groups. They need not be done in any specific order – give yourself permission to develop a process that mirrors and heals your own experience of loss.
Having facilitated creativity groups for almost 20 years, I have learned that everyone has the power to retrieve their real feelings and true voice through writing and art-making. I have also learned that almost everyone has a critical internal voice that can block these creative efforts. In my workshops, I encourage participants to identify the “inner critics” that may be sabotaging their natural urge to express themselves.
Typically, inner critics are wily and shape-shifting – just when you catch hold of one, it pops up somewhere else. An internal critic may also masquerade as a helper or a protector (“don’t make a painting, you’ll only embarrass yourself”). Often it resembles the voice of a teacher or parent; however, if it stands in the way of authentic self-expression, it is not likely to be of any real help. It is rarely possible to eradicate internal critics, but we can learn to dance with them in a new way. By gently observing your own critical internal voices, over time you can begin to shift your relationship to these barriers to creative freedom. “It is also important in releasing the inner critic to realize that healing art is not about success, aesthetics, or making art that another person likes. It is about healing” (Samuels and Rockwood Lane 1998, p.160).