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Creativity in Counseling

The Use of Creativity in Counseling

I attended a training earlier this month that showed how using outlets for creative responses with a client can help the client identify with greater clarity their struggle. I was surprised how a 5 minute drawing helped me identify strengths I had hidden inside of me. It was a completely enjoyable experience for me and was very low stress.

I think we all fish for words to describe feelings at times. Often with those who have experienced a traumatic event, it is hard to even partially identify the bundle of emotions they have experienced. Some people have long periods of trauma, such as in the case of domestic violence or childhood abuse, where words have been suppressed for potentially many years. Art or creative therapy uses a part of the brain that does not need words. We have all heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Creative therapy is along that line of knowing.

Creative therapy is not just picture drawing. It can also be setting up figures in a tray of sand to demonstrate relationships significant to the individual. Using model clay is helpful as well. The use of music or musical instruments such as drums to let the client voice his or her emotions. Some people may be hesitant to put a voice to their feelings even after they are evident in the creative therapy exercise.  It is important for them to know that emotions cannot be judged. They just are a very personal response to something.

My tree was a palm tree.  All the while I was drawing this tree and its setting what was actually running through my mind was, “but I’m a Colorado native, why am I drawing a palm tree?” Later, as I was talking with someone about my tree I realized the significance of what I drew and how it related to me or my future.

Now, rest assured, I do not always act like this palm tree.  So, too, a drawing does not describe all of a person’s life. However, it maybe the most salient emotion they may have at the time or during a remembered time. I am probably the only one who can better understand myself from my creative therapy experience.

Someday, I hope everyone who reads this post has a chance to engage in creative therapy. It can be revealing and encouraging.

 Valerie

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