The Power of the Creative Arts in Psychotherapy and Spirituality, by Julia Kristeller, M.Ed

In recent years the various modalities of the creative arts therapies including visual art, drama, music, movement and dance, and poetry and writing, have gained widespread use as vehicles for healing in healthcare settings and in psychotherapy.

The creative arts engage the whole being-body, mind, and spirit. Many spiritual and religious traditions have relied on the arts as a source of healing and as a pathway to accessing and sharing spirituality and the experience of God. Creative human expression and the shared appreciation of creative acts, contain a spiritual as well as a psychological, physical, social, and emotional dimension and can actually serve as a bridge between these realms.

The creative process, when not judged, can free us from our heads and help us listen to one another and ourselves from a deeper place. It can tap into that place where our soul and spirit live. This is where our images dwell, our true stories reside, our relationships matter. It is where we can learn to express authentically and to listen and to love one another and ourselves for the abiding creativity, humanity, and love which somehow survives adversity.

Art is a universal way of communicating that, which can’t be expressed easily through words. Art-making can be a powerful vehicle for not only acknowledging and sharing experiences, but also for taking a creative stand for one’s feelings, memories, and hopes for the future. It helps to access unconscious and personally meaningful images, thoughts, feelings, and dispositions. Shared creative expression can help people more easily face challenges together, share hidden feelings, and develop their sense of self.

A creative act-generating something that embodies the self that didn’t exist before-is a way of saying, “I am here, I can create, I belong.” A shared art-making experience says, “We are here together, we can create together, we are a family or a community, we belong here together.”
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