The Power of Art as Medicine by Carrie T. Ishee

April 13, 2020
“The psyche speaks more fully in images than in words and helps trauma survivors access deep inner truth, release painful emotions, and connect with inner wisdom.”

“Angel Blessing the World” – Daily Doodle 
This guest post is written by author Carrie T. Ishee, as part of her WOW! Women on Writing Blog Tour.


I proposed this blog topic this past winter when I was preparing the launch of my memoir “Seduced into Darkness: Transcending My Psychiatrist’s Sexual Abuse,” that documents my healing journey from a life-threatening betrayal. Little did I know that soon the entire world would undergo the collective trauma of a viral pandemic, resulting in our isolation from loved ones, our jobs, our daily lives.

On this Easter Day, during the season of Passover, while we seek comfort in the message of the risen Christ and God’s blessing on the Israelites, may we also look to our creativity to minister to our souls and restore our vitality. With so much fear and death around us, it’s been amazing to witness the intimate expressions of music, photography, dance, and comedy freely shared from the hearts of people around the world.

Art has been used as medicine for the soul since ancient times. During such crises, we find that our rational minds can’t comprehend what will cure us. Art, when embraced as a personal spiritual practice, can become deeply healing and transformative. Indigenous people have always incorporated art as an intrinsic part of life and still share in the collective experience of art making. The coronavirus pandemic prompts the western world to do so as well. In the 18th century, the dualistic philosophy of Descartes touted the separation between body and mind, resulting in the separation of art from daily life. Artistic expressions got elevated to the realm of professional artists rather than the birthright of all people. This division between artist and the common man feeds the egotistical side of humanity and is the antithesis of what art is intended to do for the collective.

In times past, there was no need for art therapists since all were connected to spirit and creativity. In modern life, however, we often don’t honor our creative voice until our soul demands it.

As an art therapist, I’ve witnessed the contraction of the soul when trauma goes unexpressed. As a result, these painful experiences cause us to lose our joy, our ability to speak up, to be bold, to tell the truth.

Creating art—especially spontaneously, free of technique or the intent of being sold— is a form of pure expression that helps the soul to heal, to gather its colors, and reclaim its vitality.

One practice that has helped me clear out my psyche and access my inner wisdom is the practice of doodling. Doodling implies spontaneity, exploration, fun, and play. It is the visual equivalent to daily journaling, and if done consistently can help you engage the language of your soul.

To Jump-Start Your Own Doodle Process while staying at home:

1) Start with black or white drawing or construction paper and chalk or oil pastels.

2) Go where you can be alone, without distraction for at least 20 minutes. (Turn off your cell phone, etc.). You may want to light a candle to invoke the sacred.

3) Clear your mind of anything you think you are supposed to be doing and take three deep breaths while counting to five on the inhale and the exhale.

4) Ask yourself the question: What color aligns itself with the way I feel right now? Select it from the box.

5) Now ask yourself: What shape best expresses what I feel right now? Draw it.

6) Let yourself explore how you feel through colors and shapes, letting each addition signal what wants to be expressed. Let it flow, don’t judge it, and follow what your intuition tells you to do next. Allow yourself to play without a focus on the product.

7) Continue to work until you have a strong sense that you are done.

8) Put the image on the wall, away from you at least 5-10 feet and let yourself gaze upon it.

9) In your journal, write down what the image seems to be saying. Journal whatever thoughts and feelings arise for you.

If you relate to this process allow yourself to do a “doodle-a-day.” You may notice that you feel less constricted, more open, more alive. Let yourself engage in this daily medicine to release fears and worries and embrace the wonder of creativity and messages from your deepest self.

Happy Easter and Happy Passover. May we all invoke our souls during this call to personal and planetary transformation!

Blessings,

Carrie Ishee


About the Book

Seduced Into Darkness: Transcending My Psychiatrist’s Sexual Abuse is a vivid and captivating story of hope for survivors of abuse as well as a case study in a skilled manipulator’s tragic exploitation of his professional power.

This poignant memoir chronicles the traumatic psychological abduction and sexual exploitation of depressed college student Carrie Tansey at the hands of her psychiatrist, Dr. Anthony Romano―thirty-one years her senior. For three years, their secret “affair” was carefully calculated and controlled by Romano, as Carrie’s mental and emotional health continued to deteriorate, bringing her closer and closer to the edge.

Their dual-relationship―clinical and clandestine―finally came to light when Carrie’s suicide attempts landed her in a world-renowned psychiatric hospital. Gradually, she began to reclaim her power, reported Romano to the state licensing board, successfully sued him for malpractice, and testified before the state legislature to help pass a law aimed at curbing such abuses.

As Carrie tells her tale, it is a journey paralleling that of the mythical archetype Persephone, the naive innocent who was abducted into darkness, reemerged and regenerated herself, then fearlessly returned to the prison she had fled, this time to help free others. Today, Carrie Ishee is a widely respected art therapist and life coach as well as a teacher specializing in the issues of ethics and boundaries for mental health professionals.


Print Length: 286 Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Terra Nova Books
ISBN-10: 1948749483
ISBN-13: 9781948749480

Seduced Into Darkness is now available to purchase at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Thrift Books.


About the Author, Carrie T. Ishee 

Carrie Ishee has been a student of healing, human potential, and consciousness for more than 35 years. Her quest to know herself began in college when a severe health crisis compounded by her psychiatrist’s seduction and sexual abuse shattered her physically, emotionally, and spiritually. After doctoral studies in clinical psychology, she worked as a behavioral therapist, pursued a master’s degree in art therapy, and later completed a two-year training program in life coaching. Her work today is focused on helping victims such as she once was break free from the suffocating shroud of trauma.

Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and GoodReads.
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Reflecting on a Story Written Before These Uncertain Times

April 11, 2020

Over the weekend, I read over a story that I had been submitting regularly. I've received more than my share of rejections on this story and figured it was time to take a closer look

First, to give you a little background, the story is a glimpse into the future. It's set in the year 2035 and my focus is on how bad the environment is getting. In this version of our future, air quality warnings are common and oxygen masks are normal. It's a story with potential and a message of hope (and I like those). However, the first thing I realized is that I do way more telling more than showing thanks to a lot of info-dumping.

Then I have come to realize that the setting is a major issue. My main character works in a mall and over the past couple of months, I've come to wonder...will the mall survive this current crisis?

Then I thought about changing the story's setting into a grocery store. You see, I figured that a grocery is certain to be around in the future.

Then I thought about the circumstances surrounding the story. In the story, an air quality warning sounds out which is followed by an event that shakes up my character's world. It didn't seem like enough anymore though.

I briefly thought about rewriting the story to be more relevant to the current times. I even considered making the story's external crisis a virus instead of about the air quality. Yet, I knew immediately that didn't feel right. Somehow fictionalizing our current crisis feels wrong. I know there are writers out there who are working on a virus-themed story and there's nothing wrong with doing that. But the reality of the current epidemic is far too fresh and I'm not inspired by it. Things are far too scary and sad and impacting so many people detrimentally.

I could be overthinking it. Maybe worrying too much. But I have to feel right about what I'm trying to put out into the world. And I'm at the point where I realize that unless I do a major overall on the story, it's likely not to be published. At least, not right now. And even when this current worldwide epidemic passes, I've come to realize my outlook on the world is far different than when I first wrote this story.

So, I've decided to put this short story back on the shelf. I do have others to work on that I'm more inspired by. Although, in general, I am a little bit too troubled lately to really write. I just wanted to blog about this because this wasn't what I expected to feel this way about a work of my own fiction.

I'd love to know how you are writing during the current epidemic. Are you staying inspired or is it difficult?


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