• Robert Johnson www.sawinery.net

Woodworking as CPTSD/PTSD Therapy

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

Although it sounds like something out of a day time self-help show, this is legit: Woodworking as a therapeutic measure to deal with serious conditions such as CPTSD and PTSD. Any form of PTSD is a grim affair, and those who need to deal with this everyday deserve every break they can get. These are real human beings, whose minds and bodies just haven’t been able to complete the leap from hurt to healing.

It’s great that there are procedures to help them achieve healing, and many times creative endeavors such as works of art have been effective at focusing the mind and helping the body. Of course one wouldn’t normally think of working with wood as one such activity, but, hey, the universe is still full of surprises, and very happily so.

Looking at the following interviews, and seeing how these men and women deal with the cancers of anger, fear, low self-esteem, and anxiety; and reading of their transformation through a creative and engaging activity into having a calm purpose and a sense of well-being, is incredible to me. Sometimes sufferers of PTSD cannot rely on family and friends to understand just what they are going through and so offer truly constructive help.

The problem is not usually apathy though. Lack of information or experience about what the sufferer is facing every day, hampers even the most well-meaning intention. It incredibly wonderful that a person so torn apart from external events can, by himself or herself, find the inner calm to plow through, and again live a normal life. Like one of the interviewees says: “[When] living with anger and confusion, it is wonderful to bring calm and balance into once chaotic existence. Inner turmoil with creative expression is a very good emotional feeling.”

What exactly about woodworking makes it such a hit with these men and women? Listening with an attentive ear to all the accounts points at one thing in common. They were all able to immerse. They could, through the complete focus required to turn bits of wood and other materials into functional, beautiful furniture or art, lose themselves enough to forget their troubles for the moment. However, and happily, when they are through with the process of creating, it was to find that the discipline, calm, and order necessary to achieve completion, remained with them. That indeed is the definition of therapy.

It is very telling that these people are able, and in fact happy, to recommend woodworking to persons in similar situations. Although one or two did profess some sort of background with wood, their advice obviously is meant generally. You need not have any experience or even prior interest in wood to try this, in other words. It is also important to observe that in at least one of these cases, professional medical help was unable to achieve the well-being that working with hands in a productive manner was able to accomplish. As long as you have an imagination, you can channel all that stress into making something beautiful and useful.

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