Art Therapy

Trauma work requires the patient to recover all of the details and images of the traumatic experience and to construct a narrative that unites the memory fragments and brings closure to the experience. This must be done at both conscious and unconscious levels. Trauma work converts the unfinished experiential memory fragments into a coherent memory of the past event. To accomplish this, it is necessary to reach the nonverbal mind, despite verbal resistance and prepare the narrative for verbal presentation to the person. The patient can then assimilate and avow the experience. Art therapy provides access to nonverbal memory. The patient completes a graphic narrative of the trauma in a manner that unites the fragmented images and brings closure to the experience. The drawing “unfreezes” the fixed image, illuminates the traumatic altered state of consciousness, and fills the gaps in conscious memory. Amnesia is frequently reversed by drawing, as if “the hand remembers what the head forgets.” This is because the graphic narrative is “out there,” relatively detached from the artist, making it easier to manage emotional distance and hold an objective viewpoint. Once closure is achieved through graphic narrative the traumatic event becomes historical memory rather than unfinished experience.

 non verbal stimuli are processed primarily in the right side of brain hemisphere.

Share this article: