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Documentary explores how performing arts can help heal trauma

Visceral movie poster

Visceral movie poster

Filmmaker Amy Erickson grew up in an emotionally abusive home and did not bond with her mother. Later she used drugs and alcohol to help address her pain.

A doctor suggested Erickson, who lives in Washington State north of Seattle, find her joy and she decided to delve into her interest in performing onstage. She discovered that expressing herself through acting helped her cope with the trauma of her earlier life and heal.

“Because what happens, the way the body stores trauma, you become sort of contracted and the trauma is stuck and your life is stuck,” she explained. “Movement and voice together expand the body. The process of singing alone is incredibly profound. When you do them together it’s even more powerful.”

Amy Erickson

Amy Erickson

Erickson decided to create the film “Visceral” to show how expressive art can help people cope with trauma and emotional and physical pain. The film, which was five years in the making, follows Carissa, Jon, Etiene and Charlie, who are living with complex post traumatic stress. The four participate in theater groups in Seattle and Walla Walla in Washington State and Milwaukee.

“Visceral” shows how they heal from trauma and “recapture their vital force”  through performing  in musicals, dramatic theatre and Shakespeare productions. Meanwhile, experts weigh in on unresolved trauma affects the body and mind.

Erickson, who is a communications consultant and coach and has a master’s degree in nonprofit leadership, is sure some social workers already incorporate “drama therapy” into their practice. She wants social workers to know about her film because they have helped members of her family. She said social workers also have a skillset that lends itself well to this type of therapy.

“Because they have such a broad perspective – they are ideal people to think of (treatment) alternatives,” she said.

Watch the trailer and learn more about how you can watch “Visceral” at its official website. You can also follow the film and get updates o nits production on its Facebook page.


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