The Power of the Arts and Mindfulness.
In a dramatic shift, experts worldwide are turning to therapeutic expressive arts and mindfulness programs as a means of healing trauma and opening doors to better coping skills. Leading psychologists often note a marked improvement in patients receiving expressiveart therapy compared to those in more traditional therapy sessions.
Creative Writing utilizes the power of literature, storytelling, and poetry to understand one’s self, thoughts, and emotions.Fictional writing projects, journaling, poetry exercises, and storytelling help to extract harbored negative emotions, so they can be dealt with and redirected positively. Metaphors, allegories, and symbolism offer insight into the mind, and also provide a sense of safety to express feelings that are typically not easy to share. Group projects and peer-to-peer sharing further enhance the healing aspect of literature, fostering a greater sense of self-esteem, social skills, and interpersonal relationships.
Yoga can be instrumental in instilling a higher self-concept and an attitude of inner discipline. It has become widely accepted in treating a variety of ailments in adults and children, both emotional and physical, including trauma.
Through various poses and postures, focus is directed from negative thoughts and emotions to peaceful, tranquil ones — giving the student an overall sense of well-being and balance. A combination of physical movement, progressive relaxation, deep breathing, visualization, and stretching all help to rebalance the internal energy, relieve stress, and develop coping techniques to be applied throughout
the student’s life.
Visual Art is a form of expression that utilizes various art mediums including paint, chalk, clay, tiles, and beads to create and express feelings
spontaneously, and is used to treat a variety of mental health issues including childhood trauma.
There are actually two separate benefits to Visual Art. The first involves the creation of the actual artwork itself and the overall healing benefit in expressing creative energy as a means to finding personal fulfillment, emotional reparation, recovery, and self-discovery. The second aspect involves the interpretation of the
artwork. Through non-verbal communication, underlying thoughts and feelings are conveyed within the artwork, thereby allowing the students to gain insight and judgment, and perhaps a better understanding of how they relate to the world around them. Inner exploration through the creative process has been clinically proven time and again to help people cope better with stress, work through traumatic experiences, increase cognitive abilities, and improve relationships with family and friends.
In fact, California Youth Authority institution showed a 60-70% decrease in violence for those who participated in a community-based art program.
Music as a means to treat trauma has been used for centuries and has been proven to help young people with communication, attention, motivation, and behavioral problems. This powerful, non-threatening medium can be used to treat everything from PTSD and cancer, to brain injuries and substance abuse problems. Clinical tests have shown music therapy to decrease aggression, lift depression, and improve negative behaviors. Through the process of playing and sharing music therapeutically, young people especially show marked improvement in their self-esteem,
increased focus, enhanced social and listening skills, as well as improved academic and cognitive function.
Revered for its healing value since ancient Egypt, Gardening is defined by the American Horticultural Therapy Association as “a process
utilizing plants and horticultural activities to improve social, educational, psychological and physical adjustment of persons thus improving their body, mind, and spirit.”
Young people seeking to overcome trauma have shown dramatic progress in their sense of self-esteem, personal capacity, and accomplishments
after being given the role as caregiver. The tranquil setting of a garden has been shown in clinical studies to be an important therapeutic venue in which children and teens with deep emotional wounds tend to be relieved of aggressive behavior through activities such as digging and planting, all the while becoming more receptive to talking and working through their problems as anxiety and tension
dissipate through the activities.
“I really enjoyed this program. It taught me a lot, like how to make and do different things. I didn't know what to do, I never knew I was that creative. The butterfly program taught me I am. My favorite project was the portrait of myself. I didn't know I could draw like that, it was amazing!"
- Ciyann S., 16