How Can Creative Expression Help Me Heal?
It is common for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to have feelings of not being heard or understood. Some survivors had such negative responses when they disclosed the abuse that the expression of what occurred is just as traumatizing as the abuse itself. Because of this, we encourage survivors to find safe ways for them to explore and express their emotions and experiences. In fact, at the Saprea Retreat, one of the first classes a survivor participates in is kintsugi, a Japanese art-form in which a beautiful, broken piece of pottery or glass is pieced back together using a sparkling, strong gold resin. For many survivors, this creative project becomes very symbolic, and the mended bowl becomes a representation of their healing journey. Much like the kintsugi experience, you may find that your creative expression becomes a symbol of your own healing journey, a celebration of your strength, or the outlet through which you will find healing, one expression at a time.
What Are Some Ways to Engage in Creative Expression?
Healing from trauma, especially the trauma of child sexual abuse, takes time and intention. Likewise, we recommend that you give yourself some time and space to do something creative. And, instead of focusing on the end product, let the process itself be the most important part. Observe and experience the range of emotions you feel as you express what healing is to you. Remember, there is no wrong emotion to express or incorrect manner to express it.
You may want to use creative expression to work through more uncomfortable emotions, like anger or disappointment. Or you may feel a need to create something that is inspiring and empowering as you look ahead and set intentions. Whatever you choose to creatively express, remember there is no need for judgment or criticism. There is only what you are feeling and what you’d like to use your creativity to accomplish. While the possibilities are endless, we’ve provided a list of possible ways to creatively express your own experience. Whether you try something from this list or are inspired by your own ideas, we encourage you do to whatever feels helpful, expressive, or joyful for you.
PAINT OR DRAW
MAKE AN ART JOURNAL
CREATE A COLLAGE
ENGAGE WITH MUSIC
PLAN WITH VISION BOARDS
CRAFT WITH PAPER, FABRIC, OR WOOD
What Symptoms Can Creative Expression Help Me Manage?
When it comes to managing trauma symptoms, what works for one individual may not work for another. Ultimately you, as a survivor of child sexual abuse, will know best what aspects of your life will require the most attention for you to find healing. But if you’re not sure how creative expression applies to you, or how to connect it to managing symptoms, the following ideas may help.
Find What Inspires You Most
Whatever struggles you may be experiencing, creative expression can serve as an outlet to help you explore your emotions, express your point of view, process your experiences, and envision the future. As you try out different mediums of creative expression, you are practicing:
- Acknowledgement by identifying the thoughts, emotions, or memories you feel you need to express, work through, or celebrate.
- Mindfulness by focusing your attention on the art you are creating in the present moment and allowing your mind to be guided by whatever inspiration or ideas take hold.
- Aspiration by fostering creativity as a new habit, curiosity, or coping skill that you can utilize in the future.