If writing down your traumatic experiences seems too hard as you will recall those painful moments, perhaps you should try a more subtle way of healing.
People who have experienced trauma are usually hesitant or unable to verbally discuss the incident and their feelings. They might be able to do so after a while. So, in the meantime, they should release their repressed thoughts and feelings slowly. One of the proven best methods is through visual art.
Visual therapy is also a great option for those who are not willing to go to a professional. For starters, you don’t have to have natural artist’s hands or equip yourself with expensive paints. The point of visual art therapy is to gently express your emotions and memories, so they don’t have to express a certain technique. You can also go beyond the traditional paint; there are colourful papers, threads, pencils, even odd materials such as glass or steel (although that would require extra work and protection). Basically, any medium will do, as long as you feel comfortable with it.
Visual art allows you to explore at a comfortable pace. The medium of your choice will be tools to tap into your unconscious thoughts and feelings, traumatic memories. Gradually, you can come down to settle with the trauma, be it through verbally expressing it or you just silently let go of it.
Although art is more difficult to interpret, it is beneficial for the sufferer for this method is less provocative. It is a promising healing method because its progress is usually steady and forward. It will take a long time and more difficult for professionals or carer to interpret due to the expressions come straight from the sufferer’s unconscious level, which is where the trauma lays.
Familiar with the left and right brain theory? In a nutshell, left brain is more into logical thinking, while the right brain generates creative expression and is where visual memories are stored. Therefore, as the two things are closely related, visual art therapy has been successful in uncovering buried feelings and images. Besides therapists or carers, the sufferer can also understand their traumas through their own artworks because “an image is worth a thousand words”.
Copa de Flores, one of our communities who work on preserving and promoting the traditional heritage of Flores’ woven fabric, uses weaving as a visual therapy for traumatized Flores women. The fashion brand uses Flores’ unique ikat woven fabric as the hero feature on their clothing and accessories collection.
Some of the ikat weavers are victims of severe human rights violation of the past, sexual harassment and human trafficking. The long process of weaving (it could take months!) gives them space to reflect their emotions, thus weaving becomes their visual therapy. This is also an example that any medium can do as the women weavers are using threads to express. Read more about Copa de Flores and their #FashionablyHumanist vision here.
Even when you’re not suffering a trauma, art can be a stress-reducing activity. It allows you to enter the “flow” or alpha brain wave state, which is the same relaxed state you’ll achieve through meditation. So, ready to get your hands down and dirty?