Art Therapist Stefanie Hinman, explains the significant role of art therapy and story in the lives of children, adults and adult children who have suffered trauma.
Stefanie: “Emotions are the language of the heart and artistic expression is a way to give our heart a voice. Connecting with our heart, connecting with our emotions, making art, and telling story are all ways to begin the healing process. I love to use art when working with children because children are easily able to express themselves through art – A child’s art reflects how they experience the world. Regardless of the age of the artist, art opens the door that allows the observer to see into the heart and soul of the artist.
“It can be hard for a person who has had trauma to connect with their heart and emotions. It can be very painful. Many people who have had trauma in their childhood report that they struggle to “connect the dots” in their story or see their story in a coherent way. Artistic expression in the form of visual art or story telling is a beautiful way for someone who is recovering from trauma to begin connecting with their heart and constructing a coherent story.
“When we make art and are connecting with our emotions, we engage the right hemisphere of the brain. By finding the words to express our memories and thoughts and placing each memory and the attached emotions into a coherent timeline we are engaging the left hemisphere. This is why story telling (especially our own story) is so powerful – it requires us to weave together our memories, emotions, and words into a coherent whole, engaging both hemispheres of our brain. This isn’t always easy to do. Sometimes we cannot connect the dots of our story. Maybe all we have are scenes or snapshots. It takes time to unpack our story. The people, our relationships, how each significant scene impacted our beliefs about ourselves and our world. There is so much to look at, but I don’t believe we are free from the negative impact of trauma until we have done this work.
(Please join next week’ blog for the continuation of the interview and it’s relevance on “Quiet Moment”)