Arts Therapy, Imagical Play, and Trauma

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  • Title: Arts Therapy, Imagical Play, and Trauma: Exploring Arts Therapy during the Canterbury Earthquakes
  • Author(s): Deborah Green
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review
  • Keywords: Arts Therapy, Natural Disaster, Trauma, Liminality, Playfulness, Communitas
  • Volume: 13
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 1833-1866 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2473-5809 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1833-1866/CGP/v13i01/35-50
  • Citation: Green, Deborah . 2018. "Arts Therapy, Imagical Play, and Trauma: Exploring Arts Therapy during the Canterbury Earthquakes." The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review 13 (1): 35-50. doi:10.18848/1833-1866/CGP/v13i01/35-50.
  • Extent: 16 pages

Abstract

The Canterbury earthquakes (New Zealand 2010–) and their ongoing aftermath cast many into a situation of enduring liminality. We are threshold communities living amidst ruins and road cones enduring the highs and lows of the rebuild. As this multilayered natural disaster unfolded, the creative arts became a refuge, a way to express wordless distress, connect with others, try to make sense, and re-create. Creative artists took to the streets, filling vacant lots post-demolition with dance floors, gardens, performance stages; painting brightly coloured murals on red-stickered buildings; transforming broken shards into glorious mosaics; placing row upon row of white chairs to commemorate those the quakes claimed. As my creative contribution, I provided group and individual arts therapy for the quake affected of all ages. I revisited the heart of this work during the Thirteenth International Arts in Society Conference (Vancouver, Canada) for the special theme “How Art Makes Things Happen.” The workshop participants and I used movement, drama, and visual arts-making to experience how the mindfully playful arts therapy processes I have named “imagical play” may encourage the healing state of communitas. The intensified relational pleasure of communitas is valuable within post-disaster and trauma recovery, as it helps us forge healing bonds. Through these connections, we may overcome the stress and distress of isolation and learn to endure—and even learn to play—amidst the ruins of disaster-induced chaos and fragmentation until a new order emerges.