Empowering Agency Over Traumatic Experiences Through Creative Expression

Woman with outstretched arms by a lake at sunset

Traumatic experiences are, unfortunately, a part of life for many individuals. These experiences can have a profound and long-lasting impact on a person’s mental and physical health, as well as their ability to form meaningful relationships with others. However, recent research has shown that creative expression can be a powerful tool in empowering agency over traumatic experiences and promoting healing.

The Trauma Research Foundation published an article on the power of creative expression in trauma recovery. The report highlights how trauma can affect individuals at a psychological, emotional, and physical level. It can alter the way people think, feel, and interact with others. Creative expression is seen as a tool to promote healing by enabling individuals to access and express feelings and emotions that are difficult to verbalize. Through creative expression, people can use art, music, dance, and writing to explore and process their trauma.

One way that creative expression can be used to promote healing is by allowing individuals to gain control over their traumatic experiences. Trauma can leave individuals feeling powerless and helpless, but by engaging in creative expression, they can take control of their experiences and transform them into something meaningful. For example, a survivor of sexual assault may use writing to create a story where the survivor becomes the hero and defeats their attacker. By doing so, the survivor is reclaiming their power and transforming their trauma into something that empowers them.

Creative expression can also help individuals develop a sense of agency over their emotions. Trauma can lead to feelings of numbness and dissociation, making it difficult for individuals to connect with their emotions. Creative expression can help individuals reconnect with their emotions and process them in a safe and meaningful way. For example, a person may use art to express their anger or sadness, allowing them to release these emotions in a healthy and productive way.

The article also discusses how creative expression can promote resilience in individuals who have experienced trauma. Resilience is the ability to adapt and recover from difficult experiences, and creative expression can play a key role in building resilience. By engaging in creative expression, individuals can develop a sense of purpose and meaning, which can help them navigate difficult experiences and overcome adversity.

The power of creative expression in promoting healing has been studied extensively. A chapter in a book titled “Innovations in Trauma Treatment: Psychological and Biological Evidence-Based Approaches” examines the use of creative expression in the treatment of trauma. The chapter discusses various forms of creative expression, including art therapy, dance therapy, and music therapy. It also highlights the importance of a supportive and non-judgmental environment for individuals engaging in creative expression.

In conclusion, creative expression can be a powerful tool in empowering agency over traumatic experiences and promoting healing. By allowing individuals to gain control over their experiences and emotions, creative expression can help survivors of trauma develop resilience and reclaim their power. It is essential that we continue to explore the potential of creative expression in the treatment of trauma and provide individuals with access to supportive and non-judgmental environments where they can engage in creative expression safely and meaningfully.


Trauma Research Foundation. (2021). Creative expression: Empowering agency over traumatic experiences. Retrieved from https://traumaresearchfoundation.org/creative-expression-empowering-agency-over-traumatic-experiences/

Malchiodi, C. A. (2019). Creative interventions in trauma treatment: Combining expressive arts and EMDR. Guilford Press.

Rossetti, J., & Oddo, L. (2020). The healing power of creative expression in trauma recovery. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 15(4), 484-497. doi: 10.1080/15401383.2020.1813959

SpringerLink. (2021). Innovations in trauma treatment: Psychological and biological evidence-based approaches. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-031-19451-1

van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. Penguin Books.

Disclaimer: This blog shares general information only, not professional advice or recommendations. Consult healthcare providers for personal guidance. Decisions based on content are the reader's responsibility. Thank you.

Clayre runs a group practice of three queer and trans therapists, including youth therapist Audrey Wolfe, RCC, LGBT therapist Camber Giberson, RCC, CCC, and gender-affirming therapist Clayre Sessoms, RP, RCT, RCC, CCC, ATR-P. Work with us: book a session.

Related Posts