Healing Quilts: A Creative Means to Healing and Empowerment

quiltThe experience of trauma, serious illness and bereavement leaves us speechless.  Words often fail to fully express the depth of loss and despair that result from these experiences.  Our souls ache in a way that can lead to depression and a sense that all is hopeless. 

At times like this we turn to friends, family and faith for support and understanding.  When these connections are not enough we turn to professionals; individual therapists for traditional talk therapy and group counseling for information, education and support. 

Creative expression has been found to facilitate healing from these traumatic events.  One has only to read a poem by Mary Oliver or look at a painting by Van Gogh to see, hear, feel the depth of loss and the healing that occurs when that loss is expressed.

Quilting has a long history in folk art traditions.  Traditionally quilting was the work of women.  The purpose of creating a quilt was to make warm blankets for families.  It didn’t take long for women to develop this utilitarian task into opportunities to create beautiful works of art.  The process of sitting with other women and designing and hand sewing an object of beauty that would be used by those they loved for warmth and pleasure was and is a soulful process. Often times the fabrics used were from discarded clothing or other household items, imbued with memories and feelings.  The act of hand sewing is meditative in and of itself, which is another benefit, not to mention the comfort provided by the quilt when it is completed.

In recent years, without the “need” to generate warm quilts, more often handmade quilts are special gifts filled with feeling and beauty. With the development of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and its over 40,000 panels, we have seen the healing that occurs for those left behind when a creative endeavor is employed to express and contain these deep feelings.

Monarch Therapy is introducing a group designed to help individuals heal from trauma by creating a small quilt using: fabrics which hold meaning, significant symbols created out of fabric, special items which hold memories and new items.  This group which lasts six weeks, two hours a week, and holds the intention of creating an alternate means of expression for feelings that are sometimes too deep for words.

Mary Ann Whalen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been quilting for 30 years.  For more information, visit www.MonarchTherapy.com or call (239) 325-9210.



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