Art Heals: Trauma-Informed Arts Therapy

Updated: Oct 3



I've been painting since high school. But like most people life happen and I had to put down the brush. After I relapse in my binge eating disorders in Fall of 2013, I picked back up my art brushes as way to cope with emotional pain and emotional distress as I was learning how to identify and process unresolved painful emotional wounds from my past.


Art as a Therapy Tool


I had a lot to unravel such as a miscarriage my senior year of high school that never got dealt with. Unresolved issues of abandonment and childhood emotional neglect trauma from my childhood. Mom shaming, inability to cope as a new trucker wife, and escaping with food due to a binge eating disorder. The nonverbal therapy helped me work through my trauma and build resilience. Along with journal writing. During my own journey I learned that art provides a way to communicate experiences when individuals lack verbal skills or when words are insufficient. I am an intuitive visual artist I write, paint and capture photos in nature. When painting my medium is mixed art. I paint abstract, quotes, landscape, and whatever comes to me initiatively.


Adults typically have complex, ambivalent feelings about art and art making; common responses range from dismissal and derision to awe and sometimes shame about their own lack of artistic skills. But I don't allow the rules of art or writing to discourage me from healing what's needs to be healed. I just grab my brush or pen and just do the work needed to express and process my pain. Period. I don't need any one permission to write or paint. I take self care seriously and do what works best for me. Unapologetically!


Self care is a personal choice. You don't need any rules telling you what's right or wrong. I know from my own experience that art heals. Healing with art is how I process my pain and there is no shame in my method. Healing through art can be your self care rituals too if you choose for it to be. The healing power of art can support your mental and emotional health if you allow it to do so. The reality of the journey of using creative pursuits heal emotional wounds is sometimes meant with imposer syndrome. That freedom and joy is often lost as we grow and begin to self-consciously evaluate the quality of our art. Too often, we become viewers of others’ art rather than being active creators, and we lose the many benefits of creative self-expression. Healing with art is not meant to be judged it is meant to be used as a tool for self care. As a child, I used drawing and expressive writing to cope with boredom as a only child. I took an art class and high school and won first place out of the entire school for my work. As adult struggling with mental and emotional health issues my interest in the connection between artistic practices and human well-being deepened and haven't looked back.


As a trauma-informed nutritionist I have added art therapy to my wellness plan. Art therapy is founded on the assumption that everyone is creative and capable of self-expression. My job is to create a safe environment that allows clients to express themselves and communicate without worrying about whether they have great visual arts skills or whether their artwork is technically brilliant. None of that matters. All that matters is that your suppressed emotions is processed and healed so you can overcoming your unhealthy habit of escaping with food.


Earlier this year, I shared a view pieces that were manifested out of pain but got the attention of a few galleries here where I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I'll share them below so you can get an idea of what I mean when I say I paint from intuition.


Trying to process the loss of a miscarriage I felt as if I was lost in foggy woods all alone and drowning in pain.


Trying to make sense of escaping with food after being mom shamed and called fat during the holidays by inconsiderate elders not knowing any better. I. didn't feel blue. I felt disgusted.

Sitting outside on my front porch reading my bible and talking to God, Angels, Ancestors, and my Divine Team and this is what the sky looked liked so I grabbed my camera to capture the beauty of God's Creation.


The bottomline is art heals. Let it help you recover. To see more of my work visit here.


All The Best,

Dr. Nikki LeToya White

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