I am a scientist by necessity, and not by vocation. I am really by nature an artist….And of this there lies an irrefutable proof, which is that in all countries into which psychoanalysis has penetrated, it has been better understood and applied by writers and artists than by doctors. —Sigmund Freud
Elisa is on stage. She has no prior acting experience. In fact, she spends her days as an office manager for a large brokerage firm. With the aid of her therapist, and a group of fellow clients, she is telling her story of surviving a life of trauma and torment as a child. Bob is a fine artist with an MFA from Yale. His latest show depicts collages of fragmented images he’s photographed and drawn. Brought together these surreal montages offer a dreamscape of Bob’s visual impressions and deepest reveries when asleep. So inspired was he, by the dream analysis in his therapeutic work, that he felt compelled to concretize the workings of his interior world through his chosen artistic mediums. Every Sat. afternoon Wendy sublimates her healing process through movement and dance. The patterns and rhythms Wendy creates through dance, reflect her intrapsychic landscape, and affords her a sense of direction and possibility. Through creativity and artistic expression the aforementioned people are receiving profound therapeutic benefits.
According to Wikipedia, “art is the product or process of deliberately arranging symbolic elements in a way that influences and affects the senses, emotions, and/or intellect.” Psychotherapy coincides with this definition as it also involves a deliberate arranging and re-arranging of symbolic elements lurking in the subconscious, which impact ones total being. It offers the possibility of altering, perhaps even transforming suffering, giving it a context in which meaning is discovered. Inherent in the therapy process is a creative impact. Effective therapy activates the metaphorical language and world of the subconscious, where our creative resources reside. Therapist and patient engage in a reparative in-depth exploration of unconscious material so as to bring to consciousness the illuminating wisdom of imagery, metaphor, and symbolism.
Whatever the medium- be it drama, painting, dance, or writing, art transcends class, gender, and race barriers and has the potential to teach, inspire and catalyze insight and action. Bridging psychological and spiritual healing with creative expression allows for an accessing of deep archetypal truths that could result in a more authentic, accepting, and fluid sense of self. Morphing suffering into art offers a reparative journey where freed up potentials can be expressed.