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Living with Ghosts
(and other reflections)

Using Expressive Arts to Process Current + Past Life Trauma


Seeing My Shadow and Light | Charcoal on glued pieces paper © 2021 Jacqueline Stuart for Dreams + Shadowlands

The expressive arts approach is always an invitation. We always have the option to opt out of a particular exercise, or to alter the creative process to meet our specific needs.


About Expressive Arts

The expressive arts approach is a multiarts method that includes arts, rituals, imagination, and creative processes. Expressive arts can help us connect with deeper aspects of ourselves by tapping into the unconscious. The process is intermodal—meaning it incorporates various art disciplines including movement/dance, sound/music, visual arts, improvisation, poetry, and drama—and combines verbal and non-verbal communication. This approach lends itself well as a therapeutic tool not only for personal growth and development, but for any trauma-informed work.


Using expressive arts to work through current and past life trauma could help open the healing process in a manner that is safe, gentle, and creative.

Expressive Arts is an Invitation

The expressive arts approach is always an invitation. We always have the option to opt out of a particular exercise, or to alter the creative process to meet our specific needs. Expressive arts encourage us to access our responsive and spontaneous traits as a way to inform the different kinds of media that we use.


Things Come to Light Through the Process of Creating

As mentioned earlier, expressive arts enable us to get in touch with the realm of the unconscious. It also eases the flow of expressing emotion without having to use words. Expressive arts places special emphasis on the process and not the product.


Photo by Steve Johnson | Unsplash

The act of creating enables us to work through the issues that may otherwise be difficult to confront. Setting an intention prior to engaging with expressive arts (e.g., “I want to understand how to access my courage”) can help offer some guidance and structure to the process. The key factor is to not analyze the process as it unfolds, but instead to be present to the process of creating and receptive to whatever surfaces.


Expressive arts can allow for a wordless form of expression to naturally develop, allowing us to process trauma in other ways that may not be wholly accessible through the spoken language.

Expressive Arts for Current and Past Life Trauma

Expressive arts is merely one modality that can positively help us process trauma. The section below suggests an expressive arts process for anyone who has dealt with any sort of traumatic event, be it in this life or in a previous one. Although this blog post was written with trauma in mind, the process listed below is useful for all sorts of issues.


Trauma is trauma no matter when or how it happened. To make things more confounding, trauma that occurs in this life may be a repeat of a similar trauma that originated in a previous life. Using expressive arts to work through current and past life trauma could help open the healing process in a manner that is safe, gentle, and creative.



Creatively Speaking…

Webster’s Dictionary defines creativity as “the ability to create or the quality of being creative.” Existential psychologist Rollo May (1975) defines creativity as “the process of bringing something new into being” (p. 37), which aligns to the idea that the creativity is a wholly absorbing encounter where one is attuned to the visions and/or process during the act of creativity.


Characteristics of a Creative Person

The following list are some the characteristics of a creative person.


1. a sense of wonder

2. a heightened awareness of the world

3. an openness to inner feelings and emotions

4. a curious, exploratory, adventuresome spirit

5. imagination

6. intuitive thinking

7. personal involvement in work

8. divergent thinking

9. the tendency to play with ideas


The Creative Process Can be Seen as a Five-Stage Method: