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Mia Janković Shentser

Roots of Creative Therapies
In the History of Humankind and Human


Of creativity and science, therapists and kindness. The article takes you through the (brief) creative history of humankind, development of art and abstract thought, and finally, the integration of two: the science of art. Creative therapies are one of the results of this marriage, and they are concisely presented. The development of a human race is mirrored with the development of a child and the essentials of the therapeutic relationship are being discussed in comparison to a healthy mother-child relationship



Of creativity and science.


Bizon, Altamira, foto: Privatni albumBizon, Altamira, foto: Privatni albumThe art is still a term that cannot be explained by words. It can be seen, experienced, written of or talked about, but it stays a mystery, just like the meaning of life. It's a message (Clottes, 2017.), a statement, it's art for art's sake, it's not really sure if it's art...

Down the civilization road, way, way back there at the beginning, while we still didn't have the language developed and were communicating in non-verbal ways, the art was existing in it's probably purest form – the magic. It was even before it took the utilitarian role in the rituals conducted by the shaman, where reality was rehearsed before its realization in the real world, whether it was hunting rituals/hunting magic, fertility or forces of nature that were being the subject of the „enactment“. Clottes states that „Paleolithic art has been created in the context of a shamanic form of religion“(Clottes, 2017.), but before this development of abstract thought that was necessary for the concept of spirituality, in the darkness of the cave with the dramatic effects of the fire lights and its movements that gave life to shapes of the rocky home, imagination was triggered by this lively curves and the image was created. Enhanced by animation made by the fire, shapes, and lines fitted to the image retrieved from the brain, responded to the content The bisonman, Altamira cave, Spain known to the creator and transferred from imagination to the reality. This image was to be created before the first word, or possibility of a concept of thought (newest researches, like one of von Petzinger of signs in the caves, show that the graphic communication led to the development of language..). The development of abstract thought started here, with an image, just as it happens in the child development, in its imaginary state before starting one of the many natural curves of the cave, Altamira to learn the language, in a pre-concept stage, when the child is immersed in the imaginary world that works with images and signs (Walton,2012.). Even own body and its movements are seen as imaginary, as a phantasy.

The movement and the breath are the first signs of life. The rhythm and movement structures connected people to gods, to forces of nature, it took them to altered conditions of mind (trans) and gave an individual extraordinary power and strength of endurance. Dance gave a person the possibility to fall through the whirlpool of development to the beginning of self and the (collective) subconscious and the possibility of feeling as a part of a tribe, to cooperate in community whether as a part of the ritual rhythm or the rhythm of the year and successively the life (Chaiklin,2009.). The body moves in rhythm, making the sound as it stoops, as it claps or makes sounds with the mouth. The clash of stones, the sound of wind in the trees..everything moves, and everything makes a sound, it is part of the experience of human existence.

Dance Funeral, foto: Privatni albumDance Funeral, foto: Privatni albumOur first expressions as human beings were creative (if not artistic) and this is why the experience of art is so deep. Expressing the inexpressible, in these times of a dream in human history, arts were combined into a ritual. The person with the skin of the animal, the shaman, in a deep trance, creates and practices the future reality in spiritual thought - the first actor with the first mask. As the lifecycle is embedded with important events, it is also marked with rituals and ceremonies in their honor. The rituals are fulfilling the experience of these important events by adding to them the higher meaning, a sense that otherwise stays unexpressed. The ritual, as a celestial grandfather of the theater, as a legacy left an experience of imagination, the role of an actor, the spectator, the catharsis gained through the emotional involvement..and on the other level there are the psychological elements (identification, the projection..) without which the ritual, as well as theater, wouldn't work.

There are researches that discuss the signs in the caves being made in response to the sound people were producing (image associated with the sound was a point or a zig-zag line). The proof for this is the location of these drawings, made in „hot spots“ of acoustics, places with an extensive echo. (Miyagawa, S.; 2018.) It could be that those were „the factories of language“, places where people were researching their vocal abilities and abstract thought.

All our development milestones are leaning one on the other, and so for more than million years, and we are the products of their perpetual stacking..

Science and art in past were strictly separated by the opinion that the science was built by the thinking and learning processes, and that art is merely a skill, mastery of a technique, a practice. Well, these days are over, and in the era of multidisciplinary, we know we have a better access to knowledge and truth through combining then through excluding. The researches and practice, years of experience showed that using different expressive capacities in the psychological or therapeutic work helps enhance a person’s abilities to communicate effectively and authentically. This is why the psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and other connected occupations are using artistic activities like drawing, drumming, creative movement, and play in their work in the last decade or so. Expressive therapies help individuals to quickly communicate relevant issues in ways that talk therapy cannot do. For this reason and others, different health care professionals are turning to expressive modalities in their work with individuals of all ages (Malchiodi, 2005.) with a goal of making a human being complete, building the capacity to fulfill his own potentials.

The expressive therapies are defined as the use of art, music, dance/movement, drama, poetry/creative writing, play in the context f psychotherapy, counseling, rehabilitation or health care. Some of the expressive therapies are considered creative arts therapies: art, music, dance/movement, drama and poetry/creative writing (according to National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies Associations,2004.). When used in combination in the treatment they are called „the integrative approaches“ (Malchiodi, 2005.).

Art therapy uses art media, images, and the three-direction (client, therapist and the artwork) process and responses to them as reflections of development, abilities, personality, interests, concerns, and conflicts. Every belief, complex, conflict or symptom has a visual representation and through them, on the symbolical level of the art media, their resolving can be made. It is a therapistic means of reconciling emotional conflicts, fostering self-awareness, developing social skills, managing behavior, solving problems, reducing anxiety, aiding reality orientation, and increasing self-esteem (American Art Therapy Association, 2004).

Music therapy uses music to effect positive changes in the psychological, physical, cognitive, or social functioning of individuals with health or educational problems (American Music Therapy Association, 2004).

Drama therapy is the systematic and intentional use of drama/ theatre processes, products, and associations to achieve the therapistic goals of symptom relief, emotional and physical integration, and personal growth. It is an active approach that helps the client tell his or her story to solve a problem, achieve a catharsis, extend the depth and breadth of inner experience, understand the meaning of images, and 2 expressive therapies strengthen the ability to observe personal roles while increasing flexibility between roles (National Drama Therapy Association, 2004).

Dance/movement therapy is based on the assumption that body and mind are interrelated and is defined as the psychotherapistic use of movement as a process that furthers the emotional, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual. Dance/movement therapy effects changes in feelings, cognition, physical functioning, and behavior (NCCATA, 2004)(as cited in Malchiodi, 2005.).

Art therapy, Dance and Movement therapy, Music therapy and Drama therapy are recognized as branches of psychotherapies and as an occupation for over half century and as of 2017.-th they are studied at the Academy of Arts and Culture at University of J. J. Strossmayer in Osijek, Croatia.



Of therapists and kindness.
And mothers.

We are all carried in the womb of the mother (with but a handful of exceptions), are born and we all enter the world and its social challenges, we all communicate and pass our lifecycles in all possible micro-variations of our endless combinations of traits, IQs, characters, and personalities. We all depend on our mother's primordial communication of visual attention and attentive facial expression, vocal sensitivity, moldness to the situation, gentle touch, smile, a neutral, nonburdaining thought load necessery to except and to have an opened channel to connect with another human without judgement.

When it was us that were born, we were looking for this reliance, the smile, the gentleness, the voice of assurance and acknowledgment. Depending on this, our potentials as human beings were shaped and we were set off to the world with the tools made possible by communicating with this symbolic, non-verbal language, the spirit world of transferring between the emotions and movements. Space is discovered, its micro „insideness“ and vast, neverending „outsideness“.

The mother-child relationship is again the most important one in the therapeutic relationship. The one that therapists often mirror to clients or the one that clients often appoint to the therapists in a transfer. This is the relationship that every human being holds until the last breath as the deepest one, be it good or bad, and the one with the core influence on personality, such that the last words of a person are often a call for the mother. The explanation for this can go to the spheres of supernatural, but the fact is that the mother-figure, being this longest relationship in life (in most cases) brings deepest emotional and mental associations, even archetypal, not even connected to the mother but to a symbol, as Earth, as home, as protection..

The ideal relationship between mother and a child has the basics of any good relationship: love, trust, longevity, respect, truthfulness, ethics..and every therapeutic relationship should function by these rules (ruling out the intimacy). The therapeutic relationship should stay within borders of professional code to be able to keep the objectivity towards the client.

Theories from the very beginning of development of psychology made the research in human development and human relations and behavior on that subject. The attachment theory has proven that the child's attachment to mother is connected to loving touch and warmth, and not the feeding. It states that kindness and intimacy don't spoil children, but that mother's care is necessary for proper personality development (Bowlby, 1969.). The response of the mother to a child is further researched and the results show that in absence of the response the child is distressed, in case of double-bind messages to development of different mental and psychological disorders (Bateson, 1956.). Other theories give examples of behavior of a child in a research for the understanding of the mother's response to a child. As a result of responding to its needs, the child is satisfied, as a result of the absence of a response, the child is angry, sad. A mother becomes a „good mother“ and, in other case divided from a good - a „bad mother“, which gives a child a depressive or schizoid state of development as a station until getting the plastic, 3D picture of a person as being good and bad - the real. These elements that we founded in the beginning of our lives are found in all our emotional relationships later in our adulthood, their quality is established by the relationship with our mother and/or other significant caretakers. On the proper emotional foundation can the mental development grow. If there is an emotional reduction or another mistreatment in the early emotional development, there will be a rational deprivation. There are cases of baby death caused by emotional negligence, one that didn't get gentle attention and touch litteraly died (Janković, 2012.). In our childhood our mother's embrace of containment for anything that can happen brought us from this omnipotent illusion to the realization of our needs and satisfaction of the other, her touch, look, voice and, above all, the specific loving quality of those communicational levels. All senses are covered and the scale of mother's ability and personality coordinates them. In the ideal case (of good enough mother) attachment will have been made successful and the child will develop healthily. Her/his ratio will keep on collecting imoressions of the outside world that initially came through the world-concept of the mother and which becomes to be his/her reality.

P. Salinger, the positive psychology authority, talks about being discouraged rather than being ill, emphasizing the power of support and role of parent-child connection in early childhood and of the flourishing of the person with this help of the loving, supportive surrounding. The kindness.

The theories are so much more simplified by a somatic evidence of love and kindness of a kiss to a painful spot that instantly cures the patient, or a kind word which instantly makes a person feel better. The kindness and love are functioning as a placebo cure. They are making the grounds for healing. The therapeutic relationship is a therapy (Jacobs, 1991.).

Peter Levine, In an Unspoken Voice, Photo: CoverPeter Levine, In an Unspoken Voice, Photo: CoverIn a book by Peter Levine, „In an unspoken voice“, the author is speaking about his car accident trauma being significantly eased by an unknown woman that, without a word, sat by and held his hand until ambulance came. Her presence and her gentleness released the victim of fear, unthinkable pain and anger caused by accident. This is how the body was also ready to release a trauma. Shakes and twitches of the body that follow trauma are releasing from muscles the retrograde response, a process that if missed out leads to the Post-Traumatic Stress symptoms. In this story, the spontaneous act of kindness helped more than the regular practice of medical officer. It was support, safety and protection, ability to emotively contain with no mental obstacles, no trading, no expectations, just by quiet presence. There is no theory that can teach you this. Mothers, immediately after giving birth to a child don't practically know what they are supposed to do. Maybe they read, or saw other mothers, but this moment of holding the baby and „knowing“ from inside what you are supposed to do, comes as a knowledge of the heart. It is probably written in the DNA, the ancient knowledge that has been given to us from our ancestor mother, since forever when first women became a mother. The father is a different case. The experience of being a father changed a lot in last couple of decades and this attachment is still developing. This does not rule out men as incapable parents, but explains why being a father in a new age of fatherhood is challenging.. The call is a deep inner feeling of empathy and heart, emotive knowledge. An instinct, a drive for making someone (and not just anyone) protected and loved. This is not thought or learned, this is felt. A woman, more than man, had the chance for the generational motherhood training which could be the reason why in the 20th-century worldview she turned into a new age capitalistic working woman “dressed to help”, “professional mother”, a therapist. 82% of therapists are women (U.S. Department of Labor, 2016.), in social services, education and health care occupations the number is similar and this certainly says something. I will still rather differentiate emotional and rational. There is, of course, a deep connection because even in the most rational decisions we are using emotional intelligence (Wong, 2001.). Emotions are made visible by their results, the satisfied person, successful day,.., the substance we don't see, weigh or hear, it's the spirit. Opposed to the rational that is expressed through words, rules, it's clear, visible, tangible, it's the material in the vast space. As the space of the universe and in it the planets. The invisible is making the matter visible, giving it borders, color and shape.


In the Psychiatric clinic, during a year-long art therapy group, I was building the relationship with the persons for a long time, building the trust creating the relationship and each time it was different (good different). Just by approaching the persons as humans, with respect and kindness, they were responding and growing. Maybe it was because of lack of this kind of relations in their own families, or social surrounding they grew up and lived in, and they certainly didn't get it from the staff on the ward. It is a fact, people first react on your nonverbal messages, your mood, the sum of your being translated to sign language and emotional messages that play with the moleculas of the air we breathe and this also the reason therapist should be kind and positive persons among other things.

Kindness, says Seligman, consists of total engagement and in the loss of consciousness (Seligman, 2002.). The exercise of kindness is a gratification in contrast to pleasure. As a gratification, it calls on your strengths to rise to an occasion and meet a challenge, particularly in the service of others.

Finally, the therapists. Kind people. Does the knowledge received builds them as better people, people that understand other people better that act on better relationships, on making life better in the community? Do their basic character interests and preferences draw them to this occupation and they proceed in perceiving, understanding and acting towards the good? I believe so.


Be quiet, kind and gentle (2X)
In everything you do;
Be quiet, kind and gentle (2X)
And heaven will smile to you.


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Bowlby, J. (1969); „Attachment. Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Loss.“, New York: Basic Books;
Chaiklin, Sharon, (2009.); „The Art and Science of Dance/Movement therapy, Life is dance“, Routledge, NY;
Clottes, Jean, (2016); „What is Paleolithic Art?: Cave Paintings and the Dawn of Human Creativity“, University of Chicago Press;
Jacobs, T.J. (1991); „The Use of the self:Countertransference and comunication in the avalytic situation“, Madison, CT, US, International Universities Press, Inc;
Janković, Josip, (2012.); „Plodovi roditeljskih poruka“, Et cetera;
Malchiodi, Cathy A., (2005.); „Expressive Therapies“, Guilford Publications;
Miyagawa, Shigeru , Lesure, Cora , Nóbrega, Vitor A., (2018.); „Cross-Modality Information Transfer: A Hypothesis about the Relationship among Prehistoric Cave Paintings, Symbolic Thinking, and the Emergence of Language“ Frontiers in Psychology, 2018; 9 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00115;

Seligman, Martin E. P., (2002.); „Authentic Happiness“, Atria, Simon &Schuster, Inc, NY;
Walton, David, (2012.); „Doing cultural theory“, Sage;
Wong, Kate, (2001.); Emotional intelligence, Study by Dean Shibata, University of Washington, American Scientists, 2001.