In situations where patients have been the victim of some form of violence, many therapists are using a form of creative arts therapy to help their patients move forward without the cloud of their past hanging over them. Creative arts therapies include visual art therapy, music therapy, dance therapy and other approaches that focus on the bodyâ€™s reactions to violence. Creative arts therapies address the mind-body reaction in several ways, which is why they are so effective in helping those who have experienced violence in the past.
If a patient has been the victim of violent acts, then the memories may cause feelings of grief, loss and stress. However, when that person is able to discuss or think about the violent event without feeling as though he is reliving it, he is on the path to recovery. This trauma integration can be fostered by allowing the patient to combine his sensory memories with his explicit memories, which is often achieved through creative arts therapies.
Research suggests that creative arts therapies may help patients train themselves to moderate their emotions during stressful times. When people have been exposed to violence, their ability to self-regulate is often reduced, but creative arts therapies can teach them how to soothe themselves and monitor their reactions during stressful situations.
Utilizing Right Brain Dominance
Scientists believe that the left side of the brain is often changed when a person has experienced violence. This can affect the patientâ€™s ability to verbally discuss the event. This is why many therapists turn to techniques that utilize sensory memories, which are stored in the right side of the brain. Activities that utilize kinesthetic, tactile, auditory and proprioceptive senses can help patients overcome their trauma using their senses rather than words.
Making Sense of the Act
In many cases of violence, words are not sufficient for explaining the pain and the trauma that a person has experienced. Creative arts therapies allow patients to sing, dance, draw or paint in order to express themselves, and the activities give them the opportunity to reconnect with who they were before the violent incident occurred. These approaches can also help patients make sense of the violent act that was committed.
Therapists are beginning to use creative arts therapies more frequently to help those who have suffered from violent acts. While they are not the only methods for helping people overcome their violent pasts, they have proven successful in many cases.