Art therapy for Chronic Pain

Hi there,

I've been living with chronic pain for 12 years now, I'm only 29 years old, and it feels like my life has been totally dominated by pain in the last few years. More and more has fallen apart as I've lost jobs, relationships, friends and many of the things I loved doing, as the wider reaching effects of chronic pain have taken their tole on many areas of my life.

I am slowly starting to find a way to accept and deal with the realities of life like this, I want to find a way to still live a fulfilling and rich life, and try to get beyond the state of day-to-day survival mode that I am in now.

I wanted to ask if anyone has explored using art therapy in relationship to their chronic pain? I have just set up a small project funded by bristol city council to hire an art therapist to do a series of group workshops for people with chronic pain. I set up this project after living with chronic pain for many years and finding little access to safe and creative spaces to really explore what chronic pain means in my life beyond a number-scale and medical view. What does it mean for my sense of self? My relationship to others? How can we understand and communicate something invisible when words fall short?

We are planning how best to structure the workshops and I'd love to hear from anyone who has done any work with this sort of thing before? I have found a wonderful art therapist to facilitate the workshops and I think they will be of great benefit to people grappling with the challenges chronic pain brings to life.

Also feel free to message me if you'd like info on signing up to the workshops if you are in the Bristol area?

Thank you

7 Replies

  • If I lived if Bristol I would be signing up. Wishing you luck.

    I saw a powerful exibition displaying terminally sick children's art work. Th most memorably was a sketch of a pair of hands cover in Mehndi patterns. The absorption and concentration required wafted around me. I have thought about it on and off since, I tracked down someone to come and work with one small boy at home. It was a positive experience for him.

    Good luck.

  • thanks for your encouragement, I hope more things like this will be available around the country in the future.

  • Hi,

    I haven't taken on art therapy in classes, however, I have taken up drawing/painting/digital painting as a hobby. Since I am in pain with my back, I find it great to have a hobby that I can come back to when I have a dip in my pain levels, and simply stop whilst I cannot block the pain.

    I never realised I could draw before until recently! The last 6 weeks have been quite productive, and it gives me something else to focus on rather than just my pain 'routine', and feel less depressed as not thinking as much about being 'stuck in four walls' most of the time.

    Great idea!! I can't join as I am in Belfast, but hope it goes really well for you.

    Take care!

  • I'm so glad to hear you've had a positive experience taking up art, and hope that continues to be a support for you, like you say it's so important to have other things to focus on.

    Your encouragement is much appreciated.

  • I think this is one of the most positive posts I've read on here and if I lived near you aid be asking to join!

    I'm a counsellor myself and I never cease to be amazed at the power of expression in all sorts of creative ways - the use of stones, small objects, colour, drawing, simply expressing pain ( or other difficult feelings ) as a shape or colour.

    I'm relieved you are resourcing yourselves with an art therapist to work with you - as the power of creative expression can need containment, especially for those of us who have lost so much in our lives as a result of our medical condition and the dehumanising of us that can so often happen even in the best hospitals and medical centres.

    I really wish you well with your venture - do please keep me posted how it goes as I'm looking forward to hearing.

    Very best wishes



  • Thank you shirley, such a supportive response. I need to get the word out to people in bristol and hopefully build some positive community around engaging creatively with chronic pain...

    I will keep you posted on how it all goes,



  • What a great idea, im in North Somerset, but if I manage to move to Bristol I will bear your project in mind.

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