Craft as Therapy

As an Occupational Therapist, I understand the value of engaging in meaningful activity – be it employment, voluntary work, or art and craft activities. From working in the disability sector, I have seen so many benefits  for people who have a physical or mental health condition when they engage in an activity that has meaning for them. From my own perspective, I have found immense satisfaction from crafting – it helps with managing stress, makes you feel good when you master new techniques and skills, and is rewarding when you can make lovely items for yourself and your family.

I have just heard about a new book, Crochet Saved My Life, by Kathryn Vercillo, which suggests that the age-old craft of crochet is not just a hobby but can actually be a life-saving tool with benefits for people trying to overcome the difficulties of a diverse range of physical and mental health conditions. Crochet Saved My Life uses a combination of memoir, biography and research to explore how crochet has been used both historically and in modern times to help people heal from depression, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, pregnancy complications, chronic pain conditions and even early Alzheimer’s.

Kathryn Vercillo wrote Crochet Saved My Life based on her own experience of using crochet in conjunction with therapy and medication to survive lifelong, life-threatening depression. When she first began to tell people that she was writing about how crochet had saved her life, she expected to be laughed at. Instead, she was inundated with story upon story from people who felt that the craft had saved their lives as well. The author went on to interview nearly two-dozen women about their experiences. The group is made up of women who are professionals in the industry, working as crochet designers, craft book editors, and crochet bloggers as well as women from other walks of life. This new book shares their stories along with her own to highlight the many facets of crochet that make it a great therapeutic tool for people of all ages. 

You can find out more about the book on Kathryn’s blog, Crochet Concupiscence.

Have you found Craft to be good therapy?

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  1. says

    Warning: This is the long answer! Yes I think quilting has definitely saved me. As well as my voluntary work. Since landing in a wheelchair, my life changed in an immense way. Pain medication instead of going to the pub with friends. Therapy instead of sports. No more driving cars, no more well you can fill in the blanks. When I needed to stop my pain medication due to a serious allergic reaction, I found out that this stuff is really bad for you. I went through what they call: Rebound Effects. Which means detox. In the two weeks that followed, I did not eat or sleep. I just quilted, by hand. I quilted a whole queen size quilt in those weeks. It helped me control the shaking of my hands and the tears where nicely soaked up by the quilt. More recently I was struck down by a nasty infection that left me dizzy for the best part of two years. Again quilting came to my aid. And the in between part? Quilting is there too. But just for fun, you understand! To answer your question. Yes. I agree. Crafts and voluntary work definitely save you!

  2. says

    Definitely! When I feel blue/down I always turn to the sewing room, and it saves me and gives me purpose…couldn’t live happily without quilting/sewing/crocheting/knitting/etc. in my life. It’s what keeps me going…

  3. says

    Sounds like a great book! I bet the crochet industry loves this, giving them even more legitimacy. I think crafting has been a great therapy for many people going through difficult circumstances. It’s relaxing, keeps your hands and mind busy, and you can make something functional and useful with it. Different crafts have served as therapy for me over the years, whether it’s for job stress or loneliness. And how wonderful to have access to the crafting community online these days!

  4. says

    Thanks so much to A Spoonful of Sugar for sharing the word about the book.

    And thanks to all of you who have commented here. Although my book is about crochet, I definitely believe that crafting of all kinds offers the benefits I talk about in my book. Each of us finds the craft that is most healing for us and should use it, celebrate it and thrive with it!

    Your thoughts here are so appreciated!!

  5. says

    hej,i am an occupational therapist, too.we live in denmark,but i´m german. I love these thingsto do with my hands…
    “Learning by doing”….
    greetings from denmark
    i know good my english is very bad, but i hope you can understand, what i mean… :0)

  6. says

    Yes, most definitely. Crafting just makes everything seem so much better. It makes me calm down and relax instead of working too hard. My craft blog also helps – I started it first in the midst of a deep depression,and I’ve really found that it helps. Giving yourself one consistency and something to be proud of within a swirling mass of confusion can most certainly make a difference

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