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The Healing Power of Art

The Healing Power of Art

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Published by SanctuaryMuch
This article discusses the history and benefits of art and creative expression as a healing modality.
This article discusses the history and benefits of art and creative expression as a healing modality.

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Published by: SanctuaryMuch on Nov 12, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Healing Power of Art
"Art opens the closets, airs out the cellars and attics. It brings healing." 
~ Julia Cameronfrom her book
The Artist's Way.
 Born from the mists of time the healing powerof art, music and creative expression havealways been practiced.
Ancient tribal culturesused dance, music, costume and storytellingto invoke or release specific energies (spirit)for healing
. Whether these rituals were usedto purify the tribesman before the hunt orinvite the blessings of spirit,
all tribal people essentially believed that there was a healingenergy or spirit that could be released from an individual by going into the sacred space of music or art and fully participating in the experience
.In Native American traditions, the
Navaho medicine men utilized the ancient art of sandpainting for healing
. In this practice, the sick or wounded individual lay on the groundwhile the medicine man created images around them simultaneously communicating thehealing story of these images to the rest of the tribe. It is believed that the spoken word of thestory as well as the use of specific colors and shapes influenced spirit and the healing process of the individual.Despite its ancient roots, art as a form of therapy did not emerge as a distinct profession untilthe 1940s.
In psychology, it is believed that art has a way of bypassing our defenses that aremore prominent during verbal communication
. The writings of Sigmund Freud reveal histheory that art has the capacity to unearth the unconscious material of the mind. Allison
Glatstein, a registered Art Therapist in South Pasadena states, “Ar
t therapy is an experience of art wherein individuals are allowed space to make art in a therapeutic setting to either enhance
the talk therapy process or to allow the art creation process to be the therapy itself.”
Glatstein theorizes, “The art media (aka “art supplies”) serve as an intermediary between
therapist and client or a proxy for communication. In other words, through choosing, using andsometimes avoiding certain art supplies, the client has a safe way of communication their needsin a relationship. When carefully observed and witnessed by an attuned art therapist, this

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