The Power of Creativity

Written by Amanda Bravo, Family Clinician for Community Services

When you’re young, you believe that when you get older, you will have to make a choice between one path or another. The truth is, the journey of life is comprised of a multitude of paths with infinite outcomes. I, for instance, have had my fair share of struggles throughout my life, but am ultimately grateful for the wisdom I gained walking those difficult paths that currently guides me through the path I am on.

Depression was always a battle for me, but growing up in a pretty old-school Puerto Rican family, you come to believe that you are not “depressed,” you’re “lazy.” Given my culture and lack of a mentor, I carried this belief with me throughout most of my adolescent years. After falling short and failing time and time again, I began to believe that maybe I waslazy. Maybe I was failing because who I was was not enough. I barely graduated undergrad with a 2.7 GPA in an art program, which didn’t make sense to me because I loved art so much, but most of my struggle was that getting out of bed was hard and doing work was exponentially harder. I didn’t have very many people to talk to about how I was feeling, and the few times I was presented with the opportunity, words failed me and I was unable to articulate my feelings.

My whole life I was a lover of all things creative but did not realize the power my creativity held to release the intense emotions I was experiencing. I used to be a very different person before I chose the path where I embraced my many experiences and realized that I was not the problem, I was just dealing with a problem.

Once I had that epiphany, it was easier to shift my negative view of myself to a more empathetic, understanding one. The effects of my environments greatly influenced how I was feeling about myself and the world around me – a realization I was only able to make using the arts in healing (particularly using dance and movement). Those moments of clarity were fleeting at first, but the more I worked on my physical, mental, and spiritual self with a holistic view, the more those moments became longer and longer until they became constant. I’ve always wished that I had someone when I was younger to show me that my healing laid within the artistic process, and that there was beauty to be found in struggle. That is the driving force that led me to become a dance movement therapist.

Remember when I mentioned being grateful for the path I am currently on? Well, currently, I am a Masters-level clinical mental health counselor and a registered dance movement therapist graduate from Lesley University working as a Family clinician at COMPASS. I have the privilege of working for an organization that is not only culturally diverse and responsive but is also supportive of various forms of the therapeutic process, including the expressive therapies. I get to wake up every day and be the person I wish I had when I was younger – all while using the arts in my practice daily. It feeds my spirit to be a part of COMPASS and to use the arts every day, but the most rewarding part is hearing the responses from the families I work with about their experience using the arts in sessions. My favorite quote from a mother I am currently working with is, “At first I wasn’t sure about the whole expressive thing, but I’m so glad you pushed me to give it a shot. I feel like I gained more insight using art than I normally would have by just talking.”

Here are some great images of the very things that fill my spirit daily at COMPASS:

*All pictures have been given consent by the creator to post.*

^Group intermodal activity of “10 things you need to know about me” to build rapport between the children of a family and their new mentors. (The intermodal process uses multiple modalities of art – this session included bibliotherapy, art therapy, and talk therapy.)

^Family art session surrounding “Different personalities in a family and communication” to process family dynamics.

^Individual play therapy session based on “Making your ideal world” to explore who/what makes us feel safe and to learn coping skills.

<Staff trainings at COMPASS to introduce the use of art in therapy. The first photo was from a training based on using art to develop communication and teamwork, and the second was a training based on play therapy for groups to practice working together.

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