Healing takes place in the creative space of the therapeutic relationship
I wonder what came to mind for you when reading the title?
Maybe something like How does creativity even come into counselling? or isn't creativity about things related to art, photography, music?
In my work with clients and in my own therapeutic processes and learning, I have come across the concept of creativity as also including more abstract aspects of life and of activities we do, some of which are very useful in the therapeutic relationship, and some of which I wouldn't do without when looking for ways to help my clients heal and regain control of their lives.
In life, and in therapy, we talk to others and discuss things that we enjoy or things that might not be going so well for us. This, I believe helps build relationships. In the therapeutic relationship, trust develops as the client sees that the therapist is listening and understanding, and providing the space to explore new ways - creative ways - of seeing their current situation and how to get out of it in due course. It is a two-way process.
Also important is keeping fit, being active... maybe a way to use this type of creativity in relationships is noticing the body language of the person sitting opposite us, or even noticing it in ourselves! This is a skill that counsellors and psychotherapists develop as we gain more experience and knowledge, and trust our intuition - that gut feeling - more and more.
Some people are really good at budgeting, creating schedules and solving problems. Some therapeutic approaches focus more on problem-solving than others. I believe sometimes the issues that clients bring need both an immediate solution - or attempt at a solution - as well as exploring why the client is going through this now, and what in their past might have led to this situation presenting itself like it has. So a creative mix of practical and more in-depth thinking about the same issue will bring healing, in time, to the client, allowing for more robust ways of coping and dealing with life situations as they come up.
Narrative, telling stories, is a big part of therapy, and even though the client might know exactly what their story is, and why it's happening, retelling it to their therapist - having someone else be a part and witness of this story, might help in reframing this story and creatively dealing with the emotions and thoughts that might have not been thought about in the original telling or living of this story. This is creative healing in action!
I will leave you with this quote from Carl Rogers which I find was a great creative jump in the way he practised, which probably happens to all of us therapists as we go from trainees to qualified to experienced... as we go through our own personal growth process.
“In my early professional years, I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for their own personal growth?”
(Carl R. Rogers, 1961)
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About Karin Brauner
Karin Brauner (BACP Accredited/Registered) is a Bilingual (Spanish/English) counsellor in private practice, working online (Skype) and face to face (Brighton and Hove).