Trauma has lasting effects that affect the spirit, soul, and body. Play and expressive arts therapy directly impacts the healing process and can lead people to happier and more fulfilling lives. Creativity and art-making are inherently therapeutic processes, and we want to see people hurt by traumatic experiences find healing through play, art, music, dance, filmmaking, and theatre.
My life has been a process leading to helping people find healing through the arts. That journey started with finding my resolve and peace through making art and music. I have experienced the trauma of abandonment, poverty, hunger, discrimination, physical abuse, sickness, and death. The deep pain and grief from these traumatic experiences often cannot be expressed with words. Still, something about painting, drawing, singing, playing an instrument, dancing, and acting expresses the soul's cry. There is something spiritual about being creative. Something is healing about being creative. When I am creative, I feel closest to God; it is my way of relating to him because he is the ultimate creator.
I believe that all people can be creative to a certain extent because all people are made in the image of God. The goal of Healing Art is not to get people to make pictures that are fit to be hung in a museum or music that is ready to be streamed on social media for the world to hear but to enhance the interplay of the arts to support self-exploration, connect to a community, and to grow emotionally and heal from their trauma.
Play therapy is a therapeutic procedure that meets children at their level to bring about change and healing. Rather than expecting children to verbally engage in sessions to resolve their problems and discuss coping strategies, play can achieve the desired results that might be limited in verbal communication. The Association for Play Therapy (APT) defines play therapy as a way to “help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.” For most children, play is the only effective way to express and communicate their difficulties and internal issues. Children can use words to share abstract ideas only after they reach adolescence. (Green & Drewes, 2014).
Play therapy is not only for young children but teens and adults who have experienced trauma can also benefit from play therapy. Play therapy allows people to use symbols (i.e., toys and other materials) to communicate their thoughts, feelings, fantasies, and experiences nonverbally to an accepting and supportive therapist (Green & Drewes, 2014).