The creative arts & healing trauma: An inner journey
Do you know how to heal? Do you know what another person needs in to heal?
I have learned through my own experiences of healing and walking this journey of healing with
so many others as a therapist… that healing is a process of discovery. Each wound is unique and
different, no two wounds are the same, nor does each wound heal in the exact same way.
Discovering how to heal does not involve finding another person who holds the answers. It
does involve finding someone who is trained, qualified and who is capable of being presenting
with another, to walk with them and honor their journey of discovery, be present in the midst
of the pain and healing. And... to help you connect with the wisdom of their body.
Discovering what we need to heal is an inward journey. First, we must learn about and
understand the wound in order to discover what we needed to heal. Going inward connects us
to our wisdom. This wisdom lies within and possesses the answers regarding what we need to
heal. This wisdom is not part of our knowledge or information stored in our brain. Wisdom can
be difficult to describe, but it is often acknowledged that people recognize their wisdom when
the encounter it. It can feel like a knowing that comes from outside what we know (facts,
information, etc.) and our conscious awareness.
Before we go any further… it is important to remember one of the challenges of healing.
Healing is not without pain and discomfort. Healing involves feeling, acknowledging, honoring
and learning from the pain. It is through this process of listening to and exploring our pain that
we find what we need to heal. Before going on the inward journey, it is important recognize
that while we identify healing as a positive process, that it is not without pain. Whenever we
are preparing for a journey, it is important to prepare adequately. For the healing journey, this
includes recognizing the reality of what healing involves. It involves discovery, awareness,
discomfort, pain, empowerment, resolution and a sense of wholeness. Understanding the all of
the journey is important… before beginning the inward journey.
When talking about wisdom and healing, the questions I am often asked include… How do I
connect with my inner wisdom? And… How do I go inward? These are key and important
Going inward requires moving out of our conscious awareness (thinking and doing) and moving
into our subconscious awareness (being). We connect with our subconscious by quieting our
mind and ‘listening’ to our body. Since our body does not speak to us verbally, we need to listen
to the language of the body. The language of the body is non-verbal. Consider how your body
tells you that you are hungry, tired, getting sick, etc. Your body communicates this through
sensations and symptoms. These messages are non-verbal. So, in order to access the wisdom
of the body we need to utilize modalities that are non-verbal.
The creative arts (music, art, dance, and drama) are all non-verbal ways to engage and access
the wisdom of the body. As a music therapist, I use music, music making, music and imagery
and mandalas to access the subconscious and the body’s wisdom. These non-verbal means of
connecting to the wisdom of the body, allow the client and the therapist to explore the wound.
This exploration provides opportunities to understand the wound and discovery what the
wound needs in order to heal. These modalities also allow the client and therapist to engage in
the healing process. While healing may often be considered a passive process, healing our
emotional, physical and psychological wounds is an active process. We actively engage in
supporting our mind and body’s process of healing. We need to ‘listen’ to our body and support
This inward process allows a client to discover their answers within, thus empowering them in
their healing process. When they understand their wound, when they listen to the body, they
begin to understand their wound and discover how to heal their wound. This inward process
also allows the client to discover their inner resources. They discover they have capabilities they
did not know they possessed, but are now able to connect with for their healing and everyday
living. This approach to supporting a client in discovering their own inner resources fosters their
sense of competence and confidence in their own life.
My role as the therapist is to be present and provide support throughout the process. As the
therapist, I am the anchor in their process to support their process of going inward, as they
discover how their body has manifested the wound and the trauma. This is not a process to
undertake without the guidance and support of a trained and credentialed creative arts
therapist. This process necessitates presence, support, encouragement, insight, and therapeutic
If you are interested in more specifics about using music, music and imagery and mandalas in
healing the wounds of trauma, these books and book chapters provide case illustrations of
these inner journeys.
Heiderscheit, A. (Ed.). (2015). Creative Arts Therapies in Eating Disorder Treatment. London, England. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Heiderscheit, A. (2015). Forever loss: Processing unresolved childhood traumatic grief and loss through theBMGIM. In Miraglia, D. & Brooke, S. (Eds.), Using the creative therapies for grief and loss issues(p. 157-179). Springfield, IL., Charles C. Thomas Publisher.
Heiderscheit, A. (2015). GIM in the Therapeutic Hour and case illustration of an adult client in eatingdisorder treatment. In Grocke, D. and Moe, T. (Eds.). Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) and ImageryMethods for Individual and Group Therapy, (99-107). London, England: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Rolvsjord, R. (2010). Resource oriented music therapy in mental health care. Houston, Texas. BarcelonaPublishers.