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Creative Counselling – Is it just a nice thing to do or does it actually work?

What is Creativity?

Right at the start I want to make it clear that being creative doesn’t mean being artistic or skilful. In this blog AND in my work I am talking about a process not an end product.

Secondly, I could probably write a book on what creativity is, isn’t and could be. (trots off to add that to my list of long term goals) And thirdly many people have written a lot about it and it is all a bit vague. It is really hard to nail down, including finding a decent definition.

I am going with this definition:

Steve Jobs says, “Creativity is just connecting things.”

In terms of therapy this is a great definition as clients come to me with their thoughts all over the place. You may have seen the image of a client with several pieces of wool above their head all tangled. And then above the therapists head some nice balls of wool – indicating the clients thoughts have all been untangled and nicely held in order. To be honest I don’t think I hold that much power, its not me that does the untangling and reordering its what you the client brings to the session and the process that takes place between us both.

The creative task we do in session helps you:

· Connect the dots

· Untangle your thoughts

· See your problem differently

· See a solution or a way forward

· Express feelings you struggled to express or didn’t know you had.

How it works in session?

I might ask you how you feel and you might tell me:

“I’m okay.” As you let out a huge sigh or..

“It’s been a tough week.” And I might say, “It’s been a tough week but how do you feel about it.”

I have had a huge revelation recently. Answering the “How do you feel?” question is bloody hard. I don’t think we have the adequate vocabulary to give the full extent of how we feel about the issues we are going through. OR that when we are usually asked that question it’s in the school playground or work canteen and we haven’t actually got the space or time to say and we aren’t even sure if the person asking really wants to know. So we’ve switched off from fully being able to answer that question…even in therapy!

Instead of asking how you feel I might ask you to look at the pack of pastels in front of you and ask you which one you are most drawn to. You might say, “Grey, everything is so grey and boring at the moment.” Or “Red, I am so raw and angry about…”

Without even asking you to pick a pastel and make a mark on the paper you’ve told me how you feel. I also might ask you to look through a pack of picture cards and ask which ones resonate with you. Within minutes you will have told me how you feel using pictures.

How is my unconscious part of the work?

The easiest way to explain this is to give an example.

I took part in a group creative arts session. We were given some questions to respond to using the pastels on paper. I came to the session feeling good and excited about the work I was going to do. But the last few weeks I had been very concerned about a friend and her pregnancy. I drew my picture and then reflected with a partner afterwards. As part of our conversation I told her about my friend. My partner noticed that my drawing actually looked like a foetus. As we talked more I realised I had drawn my prayer for her and her baby. We were both completely blown away as we realised my unconscious had crept into my work and had also given me a release to express my desires.

Whatever you create with me I don’t analysis or tell the future. There is no magic involved in this process although I can confess that it does feel magical to witness those connecting moments.

Together we will talk about the process and what has been created. We may notice something about it, we may connect some dots or maybe the creating was enough for you.

Creative Counselling - Is it just a nice thing to do or does it actually work?

Both. It is a nice thing to do.

The process (the doing) might be nice, or tricky, exciting it can be any of these things and that is enough. I am teaching myself more and more that the process is just as valid as the outcome. So I am doing art for myself not to look at the finished article but to feel stuff while I am making it.

Does it work? I would say yes but it totally depends what you want to get from it. This maybe a little controversial but I think it ’works’ quicker than talking therapy.

If you would like to work in this way either as a counselling client or you want some creative business coaching then send me an email – and we will get you booked in for your first session.

Happy creating

Nicola x x


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