Create & Recover – how creativity can promote recovery

Creativity has an important role in recovery but maybe one that’s not recognised as fully as it could be, especially in the day-to-day delivery of mental health services.

We spoke to one of Second Step’s psychologists, Jo, and one of our clients (who also happens to be an artist) David, about why this might be the case.

Jo and David’s paths cross at Second Step particularly in the creative and meaningful work they’re doing together co-producing and rolling out training to embed our new psychological, adversity and trauma-informed approach to the way we work.

Our psychological, adversity and trauma-informed (PAT) plan gives us a framework to approach our roles in the work we do with clients, how we interact with colleagues and the work we do as an organisation. Jo and David considered how the using creativity to promote recovery has four areas which link to our PAT strategy and came up with some powerful quotes to capture these processes. These are around articulating narratives, developing self, emotional regulation and play.

  • Articulating and reconstructing the narrative – There’s something powerful about talking about the vulnerable or wounded self through a medium such as art especially when it’s too hard to say what we’re feeling or thinking directly, and it’s really difficult to own. Jo and David spoke about how “being creative gave me a voice for the unspoken story”, and also how “creativity opened a window for others to see into my world”.
  • Development of self – Creativity can be a powerful validation process which strengthens the sense of self, especially when receiving positive feedback from others. “By hearing acknowledgement from others, I start to hear and acknowledge myself” 
  • Emotional catharsis and regulation – Jo and David recognise how being creative in whatever way that may be is often a way for people to let our their feelings and/or to create that really important place of safety and calm. “Art is my safe space to explore my feelings unashamedly to regain a state of balance/equilibrium”
  • Playing – So often forgotten about, play is a vital part of who we are. When we experience trauma in childhood this often leads to necessary adaptations to survive and a ‘sense of growing up too quickly’ is commonly felt and losing touch with being a carefree child.“Being creative allows me to reconnect and play with my inner child that was lost”.

Today we’re delighted to be launching our Create and Recover online exhibition featuring work from clients our Step Together service in Somerset.

Alongside the art, we’re launching a new hashtag: CreateandRecover to promote the importance of creativity in mental health recovery.

You can view the art and out more about our exhibition and the artists here.

And follow the conversation @wearesecondstep on Twitter and Instagram.

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