How to use your creativity to help support you on your healing journey  

By: Selina Mattison, Placement Student at The Gatehouse, Social Service Worker Diploma 

Art is often used as an outlet for expressing difficult emotions. The arts are quite diverse, and have many different forms such as painting, architecture, sculpture, literature, music, performing and cinema. These outlets both help the artist and the viewer. However, you don’t have to be an artist to have creativity. There is an undeniable connection to trauma and creativity. Artists such as Vincent van Gogh, John Lennon and Maya Angelou (to name a few) were all similar in one way: they all had traumatic experiences.  

One of the reasons why trauma and creativity are connected are due to ‘shattered preconceptions’. ‘Shattered preconceptions’ refers to our imagination and the bounds it can reach. Our imagination requires the perception of possibility. When we are creative, it breaks through the limiting barriers of preconception we’re used to. The second reason is the isolation effect. Isolation, while not necessarily a positive thing, often is the birthplace of the most creative minds. When trauma makes you feel like isolating, often people look to creating to help spend their time. Whether it be painting or simply cooking. Thirdly, understanding and healing is a way of expressing more difficult emotions. There are some moments and experiences that words can’t describe, but rather, can only be expressed in color or in creativity. Researchers suggest that creatives use their negative experiences into creative ways as a mean to cope. Trauma induces creativity, and creativity induces post-traumatic growth.  

So where can we start? Not everyone is artistically inclined, but we can all be creatives. One way to be creative which anyone can do is collaging. Cut up some magazines, newspapers, etc. and glue them to a surface to create a piece of art. I personally find collaging to be very calming, and one of my favorite ways to create art, especially when I’m not in the mood to draw or paint. Also consuming art can be very soothing. Just listening to music or an audiobook can help inspire your creativity and support you on your healing journey. Finding a creative outlet, no matter what medium, is proven to be helpful and is worth trying out to see if it works for you.