Friday, August 31, 2012

Making Whole: Healing a Broken Heart

by Diane Steinbach

Making Whole is a bi-monthly art therapy column focused on art to heal.

Living with a broken heart is something that many, many people do for one reason or another. Sometimes broken hearts heal, other times we just make do and keep going.  No matter what caused our broken heart, a trauma, a broken relationship, the loss of a loved one or any number of other causes, the first step to healing the heart is acknowledging the wound.

This art project helps those of us with a broken heart visualize the pain and hurt we feel that no one else can see. When we use paint and collage materials to illustrate the damage and repair our hearts need, we can share and show our feelings in a concrete way.

What you need:

Watercolor paper
Watercolor paints
Black permanent markers
 Miscellaneous closure items like zippers, buttons, band aides, snaps, safety pins, staples etc.

1.     Use the watercolor paints and paper to paint a representation of your heart on the page. Fill in the heart with color and paint in the background.
2.     Once the paper is dry, use the glue to apply some of the closure collage materials to indicate the areas where your heart has been broken and is being mended and repaired.
3.     Use the black marker to add text if some words come to mind that you’d like to include to help to illustrate your feelings.

Reflect on the repairs you have made on your broken heart. Look at the colors you choose. What is the overall feeling of the picture? Is it dark; are there a lot of closure devices holding your heart together? Then you are at the beginning of healing your heart.
Do this exercise again in a few months. Compare the two hearts. Do you see improvement? Do you see the colors getting lighter or more vibrant? Do you see less mends or closures? Is your heart healing? If not, what can you do to work on healing?
Continue to do this exercise every three or four months to check your own progress.  Be kind to yourself and love yourself to heal your heart.

Diane Steinbach is an art therapist and the author of: Art As Therapy: Innovations, Inspiration and Ideas:, Art Activities for Groups: Providing Therapy, Fun and Function and A Practical Guide to Art Therapy Groups

Image adapted from : License


  1. I love this art project. I've been into hearts lately and creating lots of mixed media projects with hearts as the central focus. Now you've got me thinking that I should look at them and notice any progression in them. Thanks for the project idea.

    1. Thank you! That would be interesting to look back over them and to take a fresh look at them, analyzing them in hindsight. I would be interested to know that your thoughts were after looking back.


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