The important connection between creativity and therapy
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Joshua Miles MBACP (Accred) Integrative Psychotherapist & Bereavement Counsellor
24th November, 20150 Comments
In this article, I am to discuss the important connection between creativity and therapy, and why being creative in therapy matters. I will then look at the importance of letting our minds wander and why it is valuable to nourish our creative avenues in life. Lastly I will explore how therapy can promote and develop creativity.
The connection between creativity and therapy
There is a meaningful and real connection between the creative and therapeutic processes. These processes share commonalities and can often work in tandem and share many of the same structures. In therapy, clients share, explore and think about their thoughts, feelings and ideas. This process of self-exploration can often yield surprising results, or uncover to us some feelings or thoughts we once thought we had forgotten, or in fact thoughts or feelings we did not know we had. Like the creative process in arts, music or writing, we open new parts of ourselves and lay ourselves bare.
This process is fluid and ever changing. Each week when we enter the counselling room, we may bring new challenges, thoughts or ideas, or remain on the same theme from the last time we met. Wherever our mind leads us, our thoughts are important and together with the therapist we consider, ponder and examine these ideas. Similarly, the process of creativity, whether it is writing a short story or composing a song, will have a similar process. You begin with an idea and explore, develop and continue exploring that idea until you flesh out something more meaningful.
Why being creative In therapy matters
As written earlier, the creative process within therapy is incredibly important for several reasons. Most notably because it allows us to explore, think and ponder on our ideas. When we are open to our ideas and thoughts, no matter how insignificant we may feel they are, we can explore them and develop a greater sense of ourselves and what we are experiencing. Creativity also matters in therapy because of the nature of the therapeutic relationship. A willingness from both client and therapist to test ideas and to explore themes, is what will often lead to discoveries and eventually positive therapeutic change. Lastly, creativity matters in therapy because it enables you to take what you have learnt and apply it to your life outside therapy.
Why we should let our minds wander
Within therapy, particularly in the beginning sessions it can be difficult to allow ourselves to express the first thing which comes to mind, follow a thread of thought we may feel embarrassed about or say something which we may feel has little importance. However, in therapy, all of these things matter, and it is crucial to allow our minds to wander and explore. Within Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, this process is called Free Association, and is used as a tool by the therapist to allow the client to speak without internal resistance or judgement. However, even without using Free Association, we can learn to listen to our internal thoughts and follow our feelings no matter how trivial we may feel they are. Through allowing our minds to wander, we are being creative, expressive and valuing our own thoughts without the self-imposed censorship that we adopt through societal views about what we should think, feel or say.
The importance of nourishing creative avenues
We are all born with the ability to imagine, play, explore, create and to dream. And in essence, the nature of creativity encompasses the above elements. However, play becomes problematic in adult life, we are no longer infants who learn through play, develop awareness of the world through interacting with its elements. We are adults, who have developed inhibitions, barriers and internal processes which tell us that creating, exploring and imagining are child like affectations which we must rid ourselves of. Many of us may respond by living lives free of creativity even though at some deep level, we may sense that within us there is the ability to paint, write or sing, but we are unable to access it, develop it or follow our feelings.
Nourishing our creative avenues allows us to see the joy which can be found in unshackling ourselves from the constraints of adulthood, we begin to see that there can be free movement and pleasure gained from imagination and exploration.
How therapy promotes and develops creativity
In life and in therapeutic encounters we can find ourselves going around in circles, being unproductive or procrastinating about the things, which we should be doing or those that we want to do. The process of therapy allows us to not simply note these patterns and habits, but offers us the space to creatively think about them, find new more flexible ways of adapting. It is this sometimes-interpretative process of therapy, which gives way to allowing clients to develop a much greater sense of themselves, and also their creative processes. This process can have a significant impact upon the client and offers them the chance to develop more flexible patterns of thinking in the therapy room and also in their life. Changing patterns, which can feel so entrenched, really offers people the chance to develop their own level of insight, thought and power of self-reflection.
Creativity is everywhere in life, it is within our minds and our souls and developing it adds to our sense of self, our placement within the world and gives us energy and meaning. Therapy can assist us in learning to nourish our creative pursuits, whether it is knitting, writing poetry or playing an instrument, and show us the value, worth and meaning behind letting go of the constraints of adult life. This process matters at a deeply profound level and is more valuable that we give it credit for.
About the author
Joshua's an experienced integrative therapist with an individual approach. He's worked with people to explore their ideas, thoughts & feelings at a deep level & assisted them in using creative processes to help them understand themselves further. He's assisted people in improving mental wellbeing to become aware of difficulties & change patterns.
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