Trauma and Creativity. A Symbolic Approach

In essence trauma is energy that has been trapped in the body and psyche and can be triggered by physical or environmental conditions similar to those in which the trauma originated. Creativity offers an avenue for this energy to become embodied in a less destructive manner such as in art making. The art, in this example then becomes the container of the trauma for the time being, and can be reflected upon and engaged differently, may I say symbolically and without the physical and emotional "charge" the trauma grips us in. Because trauma lives mostly in the unconscious it is hard to work with directly as the mind simply wants to solve or fix it, and the body goes into its own conditioned defensive reactions.

Creativity opens a middle way, a path if you like between the conscious and unconscious where psychic material can bypass the conscious mind's filtering and editing imperative and invite the body to express the previously suppressed energy, releasing the life force towards wholeness. The art in this manner works both at a somatic and psychological level often without any analysis necessary though some form of interpretation of the process itself can be helpful and relaxes the conscious mind's protective mechanisms. Insights gained from both the physical and psychological releases and resulting re-patterning of energy clusters in the clients' system can then be drawn upon as "preventative" or act as resources when trauma is reactivated in our daily living.

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Who do I become in the presence of the impossible? The impossible it seems is what we feel we are facing in trauma. It might also be what we are facing in the moment before the natural creativity of the human mind leaps into the unknown.

The art will literally be "illustrations" of the process described above and I plan to describe their symbolic value as well as how the use of line, shape, colour and dynamic express the importance of the bodily engagement of the art materials as central to the therapeutic benefits of creativity.

 

It would be my hope that counsellors might gain a deeper understanding of the imperative of accessing the life force, which creativity is, in the presence of trauma.