Creative Mind Podcast Episode 26: Dr. Ashley Wellman on Healing with Art

In this episode of Creative Mind, we get into how for Dr. Ashley Wellman, writing and then later self-publishing her book has created a new life for her and her daughter.

“When I suffered my own trauma in my life, there was a moment where I said, I need a sense of magic. Creative writing ended up being something that saved me and allowed us to thrive really as a little duo.”

Dr, Ashley Wellman

For criminologist Dr. Ashley Wellman and her daughter Reagan, the loss of husband and father touched off a turning point in their lives, that of storyteller. Ashley penned The Girl Who Dances with Skeletons, now the first book in her My Friend Fresno series, after watching how her daughter had befriended her own skeleton model from her office.

Ashley said, “This had really just been a way for me to heal. My daughter was being written into a children’s book character and her best friend; her posable skeleton was being put into this book to give us color. And that’s what it did. I could hear color all of this stuff that my world had felt so black and white.”

Art as Healing Force

The book became the healing force for both of them, giving Ashley a sense of ownership over her and her daughter’s tragedy. Ashley said, “I’m going to take Fresno and I’m going to turn him into something bigger than just a book on a Barnes & Noble shelf. I want to be able to use him in classrooms, I want to be able to take him into organizations that work with intellectual disabilities, and I want to be at trade fairs. I want to own my own store because this is a world that I get to create for my family and share with other people.”

Art as therapy is one of the great byproducts of creativity. Being able to express your pain, grief, sadness and anger in a safe way is such a powerful tool we as artists use often without thinking, that non-professionals may not turn to. Ashley, who has spent her career surrounded by death and crime, wants others to see just how important this type of therapy can be.

“It’s been so crazy how that advocate in me has also merged into this author I’ve become. And I’m able to share these kinds of really profound messages with kids through a simple book of friendship and love and acceptance. And it’s had a bigger impact on me, on my daughter, and on people who are reading the book than I really had ever envisioned.”

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