Whether it is psychological, emotional or sexual, being a victim of abuse can leave emotional and mental wounds that are much more difficult to heal than cuts and bruises. Survivors of childhood abuse may often find it immensely difficult to cope with the damage to their own mental health and the intense, negative thoughts and feelings that plague them for a long time after the actual abuse has ended. Going through abuse in childhood can lead to mental health issues in adulthood, which can hinder an individual’s ability to find peace and happiness in their life.
Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, suicidal thoughts, trust issues, and distressing memories are all common problems dealt with by individuals who have survived childhood abuse and trauma. Therapy can help abuse survivors find an outlet for these negative feelings and learn new, healthier ways to combat them and improve their life and wellbeing. Creative therapies have become more and more common in recent years; here are just some of the reasons why they can be so effective.
Reason #1. An Outlet for Negative Feelings:
Often, abuse survivors find it very difficult to put their feelings, experiences and thoughts into words. Many have been conditioned not to speak about the abuse and will find it difficult to finally open up and bare all about what has happened to them. This is especially true for younger children or those who have only just begun to seek help. Creative therapies such as art therapy provide an outlet for these thoughts and feelings without requiring the patient to communicate verbally; for example, they can draw pictures to represent their feelings and emotions.
Reason #2. Provides a Distraction:
Another reason why creative therapies have become so popular amongst survivors of abuse is that they provide a welcome distraction from negative feelings and thoughts. Whether taking part in a group or as an individual, many creative therapies allow the patient to totally immerse themselves in what they are doing and focus on letting their creative juices flow, which in turn can help them to think more positively towards themselves and aid with recovery from associated mental health problems such as depression. Simple tasks such as working to create a card or paint a picture can give the patient something positive to focus on and work towards.
Reason #3. Deal with Repressed Memories:
It is not uncommon for survivors of childhood abuse to have a range of repressed memories that can become very difficult to deal with. The unique thing about creative therapies, such as art therapy, is that it gives the patient better access to their subconscious. Creativity is largely controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain, which is also where memories are stored. Because of this, art can help survivors come to terms with their experiences and face repressed memories to deal with them with the help of a trained medical professional such as a counsellor.
Even after the abuse has ended, the ramifications for mental health can be devastating for the survivor. Creative therapies provide an outlet for the negative feelings and increase the chance of dealing with repressed memories and thoughts that are getting in the way of a full recovery.