Books on Creativity and Healing

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Art and Healing: Using Expressive Art to Heal Your Body, Mind, and Spirit
by Barbara Ganim
(New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999)

Filled with exercises, such as drawing your body’s dysfunction and finding the metaphor behind your physical symptoms, this book covers various types of art from drawing, painting and collage to assemblages and quilts. Topics include: setting your intentions to activate your healing process, using your body’s wisdom to heal an illness and opening the divine connection to express the images of your heart. Barbara Ganim is the director of the Institute of Expressive Arts a three-weekend, 60-hour professional development program, sponsored by the graduate program in holistic counseling at Salve Regina University in Newport Rhode Island.

Healing Words for the Body, Mind and Spirit: 101 Words to Inspire and Affirm
by Carin Goldman
(New York: Marlowe & Company, 2001)

Goldman devotes two pages to each word and includes quotes and anectotes to help comfort and inspire. Everyone I’ve spoken to who has read this book loves it.

Creative Healing: How to Heal Yourself by Tapping into Your Hidden Creativity
by Michael Samuels, M. D. and Mary Rockwood Lane, R.N., M.S.N.
(San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1998)

This book details the history of the arts and medicine movement and the scientific reasons why art heals. About a third of the book is devoted to using art, writing, dance and music to heal. This section includes practical information about reclaiming your inner artist choosing a medium in which to work and getting started. The authors say that beginning to make art with the subject that is the most meaningful and compelling in your life leads to healing. The final section discusses programs that utilize the arts as a method of healing. Many stories of people using art to heal are included throughout the book. Samuels has used art to work with cancer patients for over 20 years and is co-founder of Art as a Healing Force and Lane is co-founders of the Arts in Medicine Program at Shands Hospital and the University of Florida.


The Intuitive Healer by Marcia Emery, Ph.D.
(foreword by Caroline Myss, Ph.D)
(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999)

Although not specifically about creativity, this book provides an in depth discussion of using intuition to heal physical problems. Intuition is one phase of the creative process – the ah hah phase. This book is an excellent resource for learning how to intuit what is wrong, what underlies it, and what you need in order to feel better. Many of the exercises in this book are writing exercises that would serve as wonderful springboards to further writing, painting, clay work or other creative responses.

Write Now: Maintaining a Creative Spirit While Homebound and Ill
by Susan Dion, Ph.D.

This book is a tremendous resource. Chapters include: Sickness and Creativity: Why Bother?, Creative Expressions, Lists, Journaling, Letterwriting, Poetry, Making Stories and Non-Fiction. The book contains exercises and ideas, anecdotes about people who are using writing as a way to heal, as well as resources. Dion knows what she’s talking about. Ill since 1989, she turned to writing as her lifeline. This book, funded by the Puffin Foundation, is free. To get a copy send a self-addressed, stamped envelope with $1.26 in postage to S.Dion/WRITE NOW, 432 Ives Avenue, Carneys Point, New Jersey 08069. (See related article)

Waist-High in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled
by Nancy Mairs
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1992)

Nancy Mairs, an unflinchingly honest and witty essayist with degenerative multiple sclerosis, not only gives readers much to think about, she is an inspiration. Her motto is: “I will write my way into well-being” She does that with style. (She was one of my favorite authors well before I began living with chronic pain.) Read an excerpt at Celebrating Differences: Disability Culture Pages. (The website is still under construction, but the excerpt, a reading for a disability culture page taught at New York’s New School, is posted.)

Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions
by James W. Pennebaker, Ph. D.
(New York: The Guilford Press, 1990)

Psychologist, Pennebaker performed studies about the healing power of writing. In this book he details his research and explores the reasons why journal writing improves not only emotional, but also physical health.

Art as Medicine: Creating a Therapy of the Imagination
by Shaun McNiff, Ph.D.
(Boston: Shambhala, 1992)

Mc Niff, an eminent art therapist, believes that whenever illness is associated with the loss of soul, the arts emerge as a sort of soul medicine to remedy the loss. He compares the medicine of the artist with that of the shaman. This is a thought-provoking book exploring why art therapy works and is one that may cause you to think in new ways about the act of creating.

Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making
by John Fox
(New York: Tarcher, 1997)

Fox, a poet and poetry therapist, provides exercises, poetry and essays that lead readers on a journey toward healing. Of special note is his chapter about writing poems of witness in a conflicted world. The book ends with a discussion of using your spiritual voice to heal. Along with the information about healing, he provides enough basic information about poetic technique to enable the reader to write real poetry.