healing through art letter to the editor

Letter: Art therapy offers healing after tragedy

I am excited to tell the public about the Hearts Mend Hearts initiative being held at the Charleston County Library on Calhoun Street. Created by a group of mental health professionals, art therapists and artists, it offers a therapeutic art process in an intimate setting as a way for the public to come to terms with and heal from the horror of the Emanuel AME Church massacre. These workshops are on Sundays from 2:30-4:30, Tuesdays from 5:30-7:00, and Thursdays from 5:30-7:30.

The process of creating art guides and encourages people through the grieving process, but no artistic skills are needed to participate. The images and sharing have been powerful and healing for family members of the victims, friends and co-workers, patrons of the library, children, adolescents and adults. Everyone is invited and it is free.

The shock of a traumatic event can shut down the verbal process, and we are left helpless to talk about what has happened and how we feel about it. Art is a powerful and effective way to express what our unconscious mind is attempting to handle.

After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., registered art therapist Nicole Wilcox began working to help the families and community to confront the horror of what had happened and begin healing through the powerful process of art therapy.

On Saturday, Aug. 29, Hearts Mends Hearts, in conjunction with the Charleston County Library, will present a free workshop by Ms. Wilcox at the St. Andrews Regional Library, 1735 N. Woodmere Drive in Charleston. She will share how the process of art therapy helped Newtown families deal with their tragedy. She will also discuss the nature of trauma and how violence, loss and horror affect us all.

As an art therapist for over 14 years, I have seen the life-changing power of art therapy and am passionate about helping our community heal. Please come to all of these events and honor the beautiful members of Mother Emanuel.

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