The creative act is a courageous affirmation of life in face of the void or death. From this affirmation of life comes the healing medicine of creation. The need to create, communicate, create coherence, and symbolize is a basic human need.

Art is crucial for the healing journey because it touches and also expresses the whole complex human person, including levels of mind, body and spirit. (Serlin, 2007). Carl Jung proposed that the origin of a work of art lies not in the personal unconscious of the artist, but in the collective unconscious, which is the “common heritage of mankind” (p. 80). The humanities connect people across different cultures and traditions to common challenges of the human condition.

Studies show that the artistic endeavor may reduce stress and health complaints, improve immune function, provide both physical and psychological benefits, and even help people live longer (Pennebaker, 1999; Levin,1969 ).

Communal singing has, since ancient times, been a source of physical and emotional rejuvenation. It has helped create and sustain communities, helped individuals feel less isolated, and lifted mood and motivation. On April 19, psychologist Geri Alpert will introduce a model of communal singing that can help each of us experience these self-care benefits. Dr. Alpert will describe recent research on the brain and emotion to support the importance of including communal singing for health and resiliency.


Jung, C. G. (1966). On the relation of analytical psychology to poetry. The spirit in man, art and literature. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 65 – 83.

Levin, H. (1969(. Music in therapy. In American Dance Therapy Association Proceedings, Columbia, MD: American Dance Therapy Association 16-18.

Pennebaker, J.. (1990). Opening up: The healing power of expressing emotions. New York: Guilford.

Serlin, I. A. (Gen. Ed.). (2007) Whole Person Healthcare: Vol. III: Arts and Health. Westport, Conn: Praeger.

About the Author

Ilene Serlin, Ph.D.

Ilene Serlin, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and the founder and director of Union Street Health Associates and the Arts Medicine Program at California Pacific Medical Center.

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