The purpose of art therapy is essentially one of healing. Art therapy has been used for various reasons, but most recently with veterans who have experienced traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. There are published case studies and research projects that support the successful outcome of art therapy. Even knowing this I remained a skeptic, until recently. Donna Godwin, founder and artist at the Healing Tree Art Ministry conducted a workshop for veterans at Operation Stand Down in Nashville, Tennessee Sunday, 19 April 2015.
For 3 and a half hours on a Sunday afternoon 15 veterans experienced a time to search our souls through the medium of art. The “soul art” encounter began as Donna shared with the group her soul wound, making herself vulnerable to the veterans attending. This “confession” had the affect of tearing down walls between her and the group that opened the doors of trust. Donna shared with the group the significance of art in her life as it has brought her healing. She opened her soul to us by sharing a story around each piece of art.
It was time for each of us to get to the soul of the matter. Donna invited us to walk around the room, look at and touch her art. As we used our senses of sight and touch we were connected to a specific piece of art that spoke to our hearts and that opened the door to our souls. Donna was priming our hearts, minds, and souls for the next step. We were now ready for some soul work as we contemplated our respective journeys by becoming an artist.
The whole encounter was a creative process. Through art and story we began to sense the inner connection of God to our experiences and why we were present, that day and that time. We opened our lives and souls to God as we placed them onto a canvas. What did we experience? For some there was excitement. For others there were tears. For most there was joy. I realized that each of us got to the soul of the matter through a piece of canvas. This was certainly a sacred and holy moment. What a discovery it was!