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Creativity Recovery - what is it and how does it work?

Updated: Nov 21, 2021

Last month I was invited to attend a community recovery training workshop held by the Mackay Regional Council and delivered by the "Creative Recovery Network" of Australia. It was absolutely brilliant! The style of training and the process we learnt made a lot of sense to me as I had worked on 4 community recovery projects previously (in 4 different local communities in our region) that were all significantly affected by Cyclone Debbie in March 2017.

At the time I had just finished some arts therapy training and thought that 'yes', this was the job for me. Previous to this I had also worked on a global project called "One Million Starts to End Violence" in collaboration with Canelands Central, The Mackay Regional Council and The Women's Centre.

This particular project became incredibly important to me. I listened to so many stories from people in our community who were (in some way) affected by domestic violence. I also learnt about the high statistics of domestic violence in our community and wanted to help make a difference to those people. And from this project I finally understood that overwhelming impact that this issue has in the community. I listened and empathised while weaving stars.

The idea that one person can make a difference resonated with me. A bit like the 'starfish story'. I had recently heard about this from a friend of mine who was dying from breast cancer.

I was also very fortunate to meet Rosie Batty "Australian of the Year 2015" and this was like meeting royalty for me, as I had just read her book. Her contribution to the changes with the existing legislation around domestic violence was incredible. (A book well worth reading to see 'how one person CAN make a change')

So back to creative recovery and what that means....

Well lets start with trauma and what it does to our bodies.

According to

Trauma can have a range of effects, which are sometimes called:

  • Freeze – feeling paralysed or unable to move.

  • Flop – doing what you're told without being able to protest.

  • Fight – fighting, struggling or protesting.

  • Flight – hiding or moving away.

  • Fawn – trying to please someone who harms you.

All of the above are normal responses to abnormal situations. We are only human and each and every one of us will respond in a different way. It is like a genetic code that we are born with (which I believe is passed on through our ancestors and current social opinions and views of what trauma is to each of us).

So how does creativity help in situations like this? Well it is much like fishing, or gardening, reading a good book, knitting, or riding a bike for hours on end. It fires off neurons in our brain that make us feel good again. I don't think it is anything new myself as it started with cave women and men to help communicate with their tribe. It was done on cave walls, on skin and within the environment they lived in.

Creativity is a part of our social structure and very much belongs there. It helps us understand or reflect upon the world we live in. Historically the 'Masters' like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael were artists that were commissioned to paint and represent society at that time in history. Eventually this job became redundant with the invention of the camera the print press. And now much of this job has been superseded by social media.

Creativity is an ancient art-form, it is a device to communicate to our tribe. Artist bring a huge amount of value to our society. They understand and accept that we are all unique, and that we all have a story to tell. Creative recovery helps people do this for themselves.

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