Enhancing your psychotherapy with creative practices

Talking through our challenges in therapy can be immensely beneficial, but sometimes words alone fall short of fully expressing our inner experiences.


What if we could augment our therapeutic journey with creative practices that tap into different parts of our psyche? Let's explore how incorporating intuitive drawing and movement into your therapy process can deepen your self-understanding, emotional processing, and overall healing.

Bridging the gap between words and feelings

While traditional talk therapy provides a crucial framework for exploring our mental health, creative practices can offer a complementary approach that bypasses our verbal defences and accesses our emotions more directly.

Dr Cathy Malchiodi, a leading expert in art therapy, notes that "art expression is a way to convey what is too difficult to put into words." By integrating creative exercises into your therapeutic process, you can often uncover insights that might remain hidden in conversation alone.

Intuitive drawing: A window to your inner world

One powerful way to complement your therapy sessions is through intuitive drawing. This isn't about creating gallery-worthy art — it's about using visual expression as a tool for self-discovery and emotional exploration.

Here's an exercise you might try between therapy sessions:

  • Grab a piece of paper and some coloured pens or pencils.
  • Reflect on a theme or emotion you've been discussing in therapy. For example, "What does my anxiety look like?"
  • Without overthinking, start drawing. Let your hand move freely, choosing colours and shapes intuitively.
  • Once finished, take a moment to reflect on your drawing. What surprises you? What feels significant?
  • Bring this drawing to your next therapy session to discuss your insights with your therapist.

This process can reveal aspects of your emotions or experiences that you might not have consciously recognised, providing rich material for exploration in your therapy sessions.

Moving your way to insight

Another valuable practice to enhance your therapy is intuitive movement. Our bodies often hold wisdom that our conscious minds haven't yet grasped. By allowing ourselves to move freely, we can tap into this bodily intelligence and promote nervous system regulation — a key aspect of managing stress and emotional overwhelm.

Try this exercise before your next therapy session:

  • Find a private space where you can move freely.
  • Put on music that resonates with your current emotional state.
  • Close your eyes and begin to move your body in whatever way feels natural.
  • Notice any sensations, emotions, or thoughts that arise as you move.
  • After 5-10 minutes, jot down any insights or feelings that emerged.

Discussing these movement experiences with your therapist can provide new angles for exploring your emotional landscape and bodily responses to stress or trauma.

The science behind the art

Research supports the integration of creative practices into therapeutic work. A study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association found that art-making can significantly reduce cortisol levels, indicating its potential for stress reduction.

Another study in the journal Arts in Psychotherapy demonstrated that combining art therapy with cognitive-behavioural therapy led to greater improvements in depression symptoms than CBT alone.

Overcoming the "I'm not creative" hurdle

If you're hesitating because you don't consider yourself "creative," remember that these practices are about self-expression, not artistic skill. As Pablo Picasso wisely said, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."

In the context of therapy, your creative expressions are valuable because they're authentically yours, not because they meet any external standard of artistry.

Getting started

If you're intrigued by these ideas but unsure where to start, consider discussing them with your therapist. They can guide you on how to integrate these practices into your therapeutic journey safely and effectively. You might also find The Intuitive Drawing Journal: A Guided Journal for Processing Feelings and Emotions a helpful resource for structured prompts to begin your creative exploration.

A note of caution

While these practices can be incredibly beneficial, it's crucial to approach them mindfully, especially if you're dealing with significant mental health challenges. Always consult with your therapist before incorporating new techniques into your therapeutic process. They can help ensure you're in a good headspace to engage with these practices safely and productively.

By weaving creative practices like intuitive drawing and movement into your psychotherapy journey, you open up new avenues for self-expression, emotional processing, and healing. These techniques can complement your talk therapy sessions, helping you to explore your inner world in rich, nuanced ways that words alone might not capture.

Remember, the goal isn't to create masterpieces but to understand yourself better and enhance your therapeutic process. So grab those coloured pencils, put on some music, and let your creativity flow. Your inner artist — and your mental health — will thank you for it.

If you're interested in exploring how we can incorporate these creative practices into your therapy sessions, I'm here to support you. Together, we can weave these techniques into your healing journey, unlocking new insights and pathways to growth. Reach out today to begin this colourful adventure in therapeutic self-discovery.

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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Wallington, Surrey, SM6
Written by Thomas Hatton
Wallington, Surrey, SM6

As a psychotherapist, Thomas seeks to empower individuals to overcome their personal challenges and achieve lasting growth. His ideal client is someone who is ready to do the deep inner work required for meaningful change. They may be struggling with anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, relationship issues, or simply feeling stuck and unfulfilled.

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