You will have noticed posts about workshops and groups I am running called Art for Soothing & Strengthening. Throughout my creative life working with people of all abilities, including those who are in distress, grief, illness or in recovery from abuse, addiction and other-life changing experiences, I have witnessed participants being soothed by their engagement with arts practice.
New Groups 2019
Over the next few weeks I will be developing a program of Art for Soothing & Strengthening, 2019. These will be for:
Women affected by Sexual Assault and/or Family Violence
Bereaved Parents who have lost a baby through stillbirth, miscarriage or early childhood death.
People affected by Grief and Loss
as well as training for professionals working in
trauma, loss and grief
What is this about?
When we are feeling distressed and overwhelmed, it is incredibly hard to focus. Thoughts and actions are sabotaged by emotions. People in distress can be overwhelmed by thoughts, of trying to “figure things out”, why did this happen? is it my fault? what could I have done better? how can I continue to live now? am I safe? what can I do? how can I do it? questions that go around and around in the head, and are indeed hard to figure out.
You might be feeling disconnected, unemotional, almost untouched by what is happening or has happened, but you know this is really about self-protection. Alternatively, you may be feeling overwhelmed by emotions, crying, fearful, angry, and these too interrupt focus and action. Both those responses are normal reactions to distress.
Creating art when you are in this state is one way of sitting with those emotions. Of stilling the mind. Of finding a place of rest. Of doing something enjoyable. It is gentle.
You may have heard art being described as “a distraction” to these feelings, however, in my observation, people who come to these special art groups come with intention. Creativity and art-making is their purpose. Participants want to feel better, want to create, want to be part of a community with others who have a shared experience. They find creating art makes them feel good, brings something their week that they can look forward to, and makes them feel proud of their creations. All helpful in shifting the balance from despair and distress, towards contentment, calm and pleasure.
The art materials too are part of the soothing. How lovely clay feels beneath your fingers as it is being formed, smoothed, rolled, carved. Its texture, rough or smooth, keeps you present, in the here and now – especially soothing for those who experience the distress of flashbacks or dissociation. It is quietly joyful to mould the clay and create something that expresses you. Women have described how their feelings seem to “come out of my fingers and into the clay” and the artwork created “is almost perfect, without me even really thinking about it”. I have felt that myself.
Cutting and shaping tiles into a mosaic is fun as well as satisfying. Creating something new and beautiful from broken pieces can act as symbol for how people see their own creative selves after trauma, loss, and other distress.
Community is important in these workshops.
We don’t talk about trauma, loss and grief in these groups – we create! You don’t have to share your story. But you will likely feel comfort knowing that others in the space have been through something akin to what you have been through. They understand your pain, as you understand theirs. I noticed incredible kindness and compassion towards each other in art groups. Sometimes enduring bonds are formed, and sometimes not, yet the experience of sharing is a powerful one.
Please contact me with any questions, or if you would like to be informed about upcoming groups.