70% of adults will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives: physical or emotional abuse, war, natural disasters, medical diagnoses, etc. But even though the vast majority of people will eventually come face-to-face with trauma, many will struggle to talk about the trauma they’ve experienced in a therapeutic setting.
It’s not uncommon for trauma survivors to repress their feelings and find themselves unable to discuss the situations they’ve experienced, even with a professional therapist. The healing process, however, must begin somewhere—and many trauma survivors find great solace in art therapy.
A less provocative therapeutic medium, art therapy removes the pressure for survivors to say the right thing, or to try and verbalize feelings that simply can’t be verbalized. Rather, art therapy allows an artistic medium to speak and act for the individual, bridging the gap between the survivor and therapist, allowing the healing journey to begin… and to be ushered forward.
The reason art therapy is so effective in allowing trauma survivors to communicate their repressed emotions is science based: the right side of the brain is known as the “artistic” side of the brain—the side of the brain that manages creative expression. The right side of the brain is also where visual memories are stored. This explains why art is such a powerful medium for trauma survivors who can’t necessarily put words to what they’ve seen or experienced—they’re able to recall visual memories and communicate them via a visually expressive medium.
Our Denver area counseling center has long recognized the value of art therapy. We find creative ways to integrate art therapy for adults and children into our counseling sessions, or as an activity for clients to engage in between sessions. Then, annually we host an art show, featuring the work of any clients who wish to participate. It’s a truly beautiful way to celebrate our clients and their healing journeys, wherever they may be in their process.