How the use of visual aids can enhance the counselling process

The use of creative therapy uses a humanistic approach to look at the different parts of ‘self’ and explores these in detail, aiming to raise self-awareness and promote change.


We all know how hard it can sometimes be to ‘put things into words’ which accurately describe our feelings and emotions, especially if we are struggling to make sense of them ourselves. This, alongside explaining to a counsellor, who you barely know, can add to the frustration and anxiety you may already be feeling.

As thoughts and feelings sometimes become confused, you may feel that you ‘clam up’, or forget what you are trying to say. This can result in feelings of embarrassment and inadequacy as you are unable to verbally express what is happening to you.

How does creative therapy work?

Creative therapy works alongside talking therapy as a way of breaking down some of those barriers by offering alternative ways to express yourself. By using visual aids, for example, buttons, shells, pebbles, figures and other objects, these may invoke a memory or feeling, which can be used as a reference to identify how you are feeling, without the need for words.

When used around anger issues, for example, the counsellor may ask how does anger look, how does anger feel and is there a colour that represents anger to you. There may be something in the visual aids that represents this feeling.

This in itself can then assist you to describe what is happening and gain more understanding, as you can now see how ‘anger’ looks ‘physically’ as well as just feeling it ‘emotionally’.

When you work with the counsellor on how it looks 'physically’, you may be able to explore the many different elements of which the ‘anger’ is made up of. Through this, it can help to identify which elements are causing you the most distress and find ways to move forward.

What can creative therapy help with?

Over several sessions of using this kind of approach, you are able to see your own progress. For example, the button or object you initially chose may have become smaller or changed colour. You may also notice you feel differently ‘emotionally’ around it. Creative therapy can be effective for individuals, couple/relationships and family counselling. It can be helpful across an extensive range of issues including:

  • anger
  • guilt
  • shame
  • relationship issues
  • abuse
  • addictions
  • stress
  • bereavement
  • anxiety and depression
  • OCD
  • trauma and PTSD
  • low self-esteem

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Darwen, Blackburn BB3 & Rossendale BB4
Written by Anne Bolton, MBACP/EMDR/Your Choice Counselling Services - Mobile Service
Darwen, Blackburn BB3 & Rossendale BB4

I am a fully qualified counsellor and EMDR trained, operating my own practice, throughout East Lancashire & bordering areas.

I have an extensive working background in the mental health & social care sectors, with children, adults & families.

I work with children, teens, adults, couples, families, groups & EAP's,


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