Recovery-Rituals in Art Therapy



Recovery-rituals are useful when performing art-therapy.

For example, if a survivor paints a picture that represents her perpetrator (abuser) and she wishes to destroy it later.

I encourage women to allow themselves to feel whatever they feel when painting their paintings or when finished with a particular painting.

Feelings are not good or bad, they just "are". This includes anger, sadness, rejection etc. however, some women wish to destroy their paintings after they have felt their feelings over a significant period of time and discussed how they felt.

The process of destroying a painting can be done in a recovery-ritual which can be extremely helpful and healing. The ceremony can be small or elaborate depending upon your needs.

For example, when I did my paintings, a plethora of feelings came gurgling out., anger, fear, rejection..etc. As I felt the feelings, I wrote them down in my journal. When I was finished with a particular series of paintings, I talked over my feelings with my girlfriends. I allowed myself to grieve. When I felt that I had felt all of the feelings I had listed on my paper, I took the paper out of my journal and I gathered my friends together and I burned it. This allowed me to "free" myself of those feelings at that time. It was an extremely healing thing for me to do. This was a recovery-ritual.

I also talked about how I felt about burning the list and saying goodbye to those feelings at that moment.

Now, first and foremost, don't burn down your house if you choose to do this method!!!

Second, there are other ways to perform them that can be equally as healing.

Some women simply destroy their canvas or paint over their pictures. This also is healing.

The point of the recovery-ritual is to "let go" of the abuse and to "take back" your power that was stolen from you.

It can take days, weeks or even months for you to work through your feelings. There is no time frame or race for you to do so. It is entirely up to you...so take the time that you need!

I feel that it is important to share the recovery-ritual with someone, a friend, a counselor or therapist, a family member anyone you feel comfortable enough with to share your feelings. The reason for sharing this to help decrease the shame that you feel inside.

Most women have shame from their abuse and it is a difficult feeling to work through. Only through sharing and being accepted for who you are and unconditionally loved can you truly lose the shame.

Another ritual I am familiar with is burning sage and smudging the house. This is ancient Native American to purge you and your home of negative energy.

Blessing you and your home with holy water or oil is also a common ritual to center yourself and to feel positive energy or God surrounding you.

These concrete, positive recovery-rituals are helpful because you are consciously creating strong, positive memories for yourself.

Finally, what I found to be the most important recovery-ritual for me, was something that I did alone. I imagined the small, frightened little abused girl inside of me. I pictured myself holding her, loving her, telling her she is beautiful, strong, smart, and that I was there to take care of her from now on.

After every abuse painting, I would do this visualization to strengthen the child inside of me. I also found myself sleeping with a stuffed animal for the first time and playing soft music when I went to bed. I found more "play" time for myself in my life such as going to the park with friends, acting silly, laughing and generally doing things that I felt that I needed to do in order to heal that child.

There is a lot of information out there about "inner child" therapy on the internet if you are interested.

What I did, was all I needed. Some of you may require more, some not. It depends on your situation and your support network.

It doesn't matter so much as to what your ritual is as much as what you put into it and get out of it. It serves a purpose as something that you will remember..so make it memorable, but safe.

Take back your power girlfriends!!

Go from recovery-rituals to Art-Therapy page.