You do not need any ‘artistic ability’ or to be a ‘creative type’ for this form of psychotherapy. In Creative Therapy we can use different expressive tools such as imagination, pen/pencil and paper, paint, crayons, pastels, collage, movement, gesture, posture, breath, voice, music/sound, modelling clay or other media, according to your preferences. There is no right or wrong way of working with these tools. The aim is not to create a masterpiece, but to use the tools with mindfulness and bodily awareness, before reflecting on the experience and what has emerged.
Creative Therapy may be suitable for those who feel that something is lacking in talking therapies or coaching, or who struggle to process things just by talking. Clients can process their difficulties, gain new insights and build new strengths through an embodied and creative process, instead of simply talking about things.
This way of working is structured around four stages of creativity – Preparation, Incubation, Illumination and Evaluation/Verification – within each session, and over the course of therapy. Each stage begins by setting goals you can accomplish; once those goals have been reached we will start to work on the goals that are more challenging to reach. Your goals and your progression through the stages are negotiated between us as suitable for you. The stages are cyclic, which means that you may revisit a particular stage several times during the course of treatment.
The four creative stages are:
Preparation: This is the introduction stage, in which we get to know one another, gain a sense of your current state (mind, emotions, physical) and which problems you want to work on.
Incubation: During this stage you will be helped to ‘clear a space’ in order to listen to the body, set problems aside, and release all the tension and conscious chatter. Instead we will allow your imagination and creativity to come out using writing, movement, drawing, other creative materials, mindfulness or simply talking.
Illumination: In this stage we will start to ‘join the dots’ as insight and awareness are developed. You start to notice personally-relevant patterns and meanings in your creative expressions, which we will develop further at a depth and pace comfortable to you. Often, people will start feeling lighter, more mindful and less burdened by their problems, and more confident with working creatively, as they start to find clarity and purpose in the process.
Evaluation/Verification: During this last stage, we will discuss what you discovered from the previous stages and how you plan to apply these insights into your daily life. It is at this point that you learn how to use the new skills and insights to improve the quality of your life. Some of these improvements might be: effective communication, improved emotional, spiritual and physical health, increased self-esteem, self-image and self-awareness, better decision making and strengthened relationships.