Using Art to Cope with PTSD
Using Art to Cope with PTSD
At some point in your journey in healing from PTSD, you may try art as a part of your therapy. Some people find that it is very helpful in their recovery. Art is a great method to express things that are otherwise difficult to do so, to gain insight into your trauma, and to develop new coping skills. Pretty much any art medium is game, but some of the most often used include collage, drawing, doodling, coloring, painting, photography, or sculping/clay.
How does art help?
Art has a way of reaching different parts of us that regular talk therapy simply can’t. It can express emotions and thoughts that either pre-date our verbal skills or that we have buried or repressed. Take for example a child who was abused at a young age. As an adult, that person may find that they have trouble accessing those memories and the emotions associated with them. However, art can bypass the logical part of our brain and not only allow access to the memories, but also allow the expression and processing of the associated emotions. And, since art doesn’t need words to express this, it is especially helpful in accessing these memories.
Some of the benefits of using art include:
· Reducing anxiety and depression
· Reducing problematic behaviors
· Helps to communicate traumatic memories and emotions related to them
· Increases positive emotions, self-worth, and self-esteem
· Allows a distancing from threatening or anxiety-producing memories and increases the ability to express it
· Can provide a coping strategy for dealing with emotions and symptoms of PTSD
· Can increase feelings of safety
Art therapy to treat the dissociation related to PTSD
Often, when living through a trauma, a person will dissociate as a way to protect themselves from what is happening to them. What this means essentially, is that you disconnect your mind from what is going on around you because you are feeling physically or emotionally threatened and unsafe. Then it is as if the trauma isn’t even happening to you.
Dissociation works pretty well in the short term, but if it is used repeatedly and over time, it becomes too easy and you can become detached from your feelings, from your body, and from the world around you. Art therapy can help with dissociation. It can be a form of bodywork as you are using your body to manipulate the art medium, and this can bring you back into your body in the here-an-now. Clay is an especially good medium for this type of work.
Art Therapy in Journaling
Another way that art can be used in therapy is in your journaling. Although writing is the usual method of journaling, some people prefer to draw, paint, doodle, or use mixed media. As stated above, this can help you to express your emotions in new ways as well as allowing you to reflect on and process them more fully. Journaling can help you to lower your stress, express your creativity, inspire you, and bring you a deeper sense of self-awareness.
The thing to remember is that you do NOT have to be an artist! It’s all about self-expression. And your journal is just for you so you can keep it completely private if you want to.
For More Information
Please click the link for more information on Trauma Therapy or call today to schedule an appointment.