Research indicates expressive therapy can help heal PTSD. It can help a person recover from schizophrenia along with medication.

Art music writing yoga–anything expressive–can heal our pain according to a psychiatrist at the educational conference.

That’s how my memoir Left of the Dial differs from the other books in the field: it focuses on self-expression and creativity as the twin engines driving my recovery.

True occasional reviewers weren’t enamored of my focus on makeup and fashion. Yet I wanted to show how this contributed to my recovery along with music and books and writing–all creative arts.

On Saturday you could attend an art therapy session in the early evening at the conference. I chose turquoise construction paper and folded it in half and created an art card. On the back of the card in red bold letters spelled the word HOPE.

I’m an artist as well as a writer. A talent for art runs in my family. I have hanging in my living room a painting “Still Life With Pitcher and Fruit.” I’ve created an art gallery in my hallway.

The reviews of traditional art therapy as a modality have been mixed. Some research indicates it’s only helpful to those of us who like to do art. Yet in 2014 at the APA convention I met an MD who led her poster session on Art Making. I wrote about her findings at HealthCentral back then. She clearly demonstrated that making art had benefits for her patients.

I’m no longer employed at HealthCentral so I’m not going to link to the news articles I published there.

Yet from my own experience I can tell you: art, music, writing, dancing, reading books and engaging in cultural events did help me recover.

It’s something to possibly try out to see if it benefits a person. If it’s not something you like doing or want to pick up long-term: you can try another thing. Like sports. Or baking. Or singing.

As my father so famously told me and I recorded in Left of the Dial: “It doesn’t have to be writing. It can be ballet. You have to do something with your time.”

You can try out more than one thing to figure out what you love to do and want to do.

An author of a book claimed that watching TV was a pleasant activity for people. I abhor watching TV. I turn on the TV only to listen to the weather report before I go outside.

The moral of this story is: to each our own. You might love watching TV and not love painting or sketching.

The expression is: do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Do what you love and your recovery will be enriched.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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