This phrase came to me a few years ago, as I was walking home from work and thinking about the driving force behind my views of how we heal. You see, by nature I am an introverted person (with extroverted highlights) and an internal processor, yet I learned long ago that sharing our stories not only offers the opportunity for us to heal but also creates the opportunity for connection.

Often the stories that we need to tell are the ones that hold the most internal struggle, frequently they are filled with conflicting emotions or perhaps with messages of how we are “supposed” to be reacting to the content.  As Mary Oliver so wisely writes in her poem, The Journey, “But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of the clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own…”.

Connection, with self and others, is at the center of creating meaning, purpose and stoking the spiritual fire for meeting the next challenge we face. Not only can this literally save our lives, it offers the chance to assist others in their own healing. Frequently in my sessions with clients, we discuss what the impact would be if we dropped the social mask and became more real with one another. The time and effort spent in maintaining appearances is exhausting and the suppression of the stories that must be told takes a toll on our body, mind, and spirit.

Certainly, it’s important to recognize with whom it is safe to be vulnerable, as a beloved colleague of mine often says “a healthy dose of mistrust is important”.

We all carry within ourselves stories that need to be healed. Therapy is often the packing and unpacking of these stories, and it is often the healing power of validation that begins to release the pain we have held onto. Using art to express the story offers the teller the opportunity to externalize it, and thus observe it from new angles and transform it when needed. This is the heart of the individual sessions that are offered, the power of it is palpable.

So if you would like to try this out on your own, ask yourself- what is the story which needs to be told today?

– Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC, is an art therapist and breast cancer survivor. She began Creative Transformations to help others who are healing from a life threatening illness or injury. Creative Transformations offers individual sessions in person or via Skype, as well as workshops and this weekly blog. Please visit our website to learn more: www.creative-transformations.com.