Creative Healing

Parkdale Center’s afternoon sessions are largely educational in nature, but recently we’ve added something new: Creative Expression. Led by counselor Christian Gabrano (who secretly has a background in art), patients spend time completing creative projects designed to encourage reflection and self-expression.

Art therapy has been around for many years, and its benefits are well documented When completing creative projects, patients are tasked with thinking through their experiences, opinions, and emotions in new ways. They are challenged to find ways to express their thoughts outside of strictly verbal means.

For patients who are recovering from trauma, depression, and anxiety – as many of Parkdale’s patients are – creative expression can be particularly useful. As they begin to acknowledge their deeply unpleasant or traumatic experiences, it can be very difficult to put those thoughts and feelings into words. Given a creative outlet, however, and the permission to think through these challenges symbolically and metaphorically, they benefit from the option to express themselves in physical, creative ways. Christian says as he walks around the room, he “can see the connections being made.”

Patients do need not be “artists” to benefit from Creative Expression. The projects are simple, hands-on, and do not require any particular talent – only the willingness to explore their inner lives through creativity. According to Psychology Today, “No artistic talent is necessary for art therapy to succeed, because the therapeutic process is not about the artistic value of the work, but rather about finding associations between the creative choices made and a client's inner life. The artwork can be used as a springboard for reawakening memories and telling stories that may reveal messages and beliefs from the unconscious mind.”

Christian also says that for patients who struggle with perfectionism, creative expression pushes them outside of their comfort zone and encourages them to experiment and take chances. As Verywell.com puts it, “In creating art, people are able to focus on their own perceptions, imagination, and feelings. Clients are encouraged to create art that expresses their inner world more than making something that is an expression of the outer world.” Creative Expression is not judged in any way, nor does it need to be shared. The projects are for the patients’ benefit alone.

Our patients are sometimes surprised by how much they enjoy and take away from the creative work. Some have told us that they think these projects are a bit odd at first, but ultimately find them extremely valuable. Sometimes, they discover they enjoy the creative process so much they continue it beyond their time at Parkdale. In some cases, patients once had creative interests and hobbies which their addictions smothered. When they are given the opportunity to reconnect with that side of themselves, it can be a powerful experience. Creative Expression complements our holistic approach to treatment which includes other Wellness practices such as Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, exercise, gratitude, and exposure to nature.

Please note, Parkdale Center does not offer formal Art Therapy as led by a certified Art Therapist, but these creative projects are inspired by the principles and therapeutic benefits of Art Therapy.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021 13:00