By Tanya Ruckstuhl-Valenti LICSW, MSW
I’ve been going through Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way with a group of therapist-buddies. This book has been around a long time, and for very good reason. It’s basically the bible of the creative healing movement. If you haven’t heart of the creative healing movement, don’t feel left out. They don’t get a lot of publicity.
Creative healing doesn’t sell products or garner fame and fortune. It won’t give you shiny hair and there is no reality show featuring normal people trying to balance work and family life and finding time to write, paint, sculpt or act (hint: Stop watching television. The average American watches 18 hours per week!).
It has a much smaller, quieter goal to recommend it: Creative Healing creates a more soulful, genuine and fulfilling life experience.
What is creative healing? In a nutshell, it’s a process by which people can reconnect with their creative interests and foster their creative abilities, healing their judgments about self (“I can’t draw a straight line”) as well as their fears about failure.
How this relates to mental health is that the hyper-responsible part of conciousness often grows into the size of a steroid-shooting bull elephant in childhood trauma survivors.
This happens because children who were not taken care of had to develop a strong capacity to meet their own needs. This capacity can turn into an anxiety about making mistakes, because these are not kids who were taught to consider making mistakes a normal (and thus safe) part of development.
The anxiety about making mistakes then produces a reluctance to take risks and try new things.
Art by definition is about creating something novel based on the unique perceptions and experiences of the artist. While perfectionism can serve the artist at the end stage of his creation, it is the enemy of beginning artistic experimentation.
The Artist’s Way is a lovely summer project. You can find it at your local independent book store. If you are interested but tend to do better in a more structured, supportive environment I recommend checking out the classes offered by the Seattle Artist’s Way. I used to work with the principal instructor, Kate Gavigan and can enthusiastically vouch for her intelligence and commitment to the creative healing process. You can find them online at http://seattleartistswaycenter.com/
You can also check out Julia Cameron’s own website http:www.theartistsway.com/ where you will find information about the philosophy that guides her along her own creative path.
Because following the 12 week program in the book, like many other self-nurturing processes, occupies a good deal of space and time I am going to stop writing this blog for the next three months in order to focus on developing other forms of creative play.
I’ve enjoyed thinking and writing about the intersections of life, parenting, reading and mental health with you, my readers. Thank you for the numerous awards for this blog. Take good care. I’ll write you in the fall.
- The Artist’s Way – Internal Healing (meandersfit.com)
- My Favorite Bloggers: Part I, Colour Me Happy (avadf.wordpress.com)
- Depressed Celebrities – There’s Reason, Wonder and Hope (psychologytoday.com)
- Welcome (kristenesantori.wordpress.com)
- An Easy Trick To Improve Your Writing (kristinoffiler.wordpress.com)