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6 Frequently Asked Questions about Creative Therapy

Whilst I have some clients who are intrigued by the thought of making something in a therapy session, I am more often met with a look of skepticism and guardedness when it comes to creativity. Typically, this is because creativity is associated with child's play or met with the belief that: 'I am not an artist'. Rest assured, there is no requirement for you to have completed a GSCE in art, nor to be a dancer or poet. In fact, it is inclusive for all. Here are some FAQs about creative therapy to help you understand if it is right for you.

A quote from Natalie Rogers, founder of person-centred expressive arts therapy to set the scene:

"To use the arts expressively means going into our inner realms to discover feelings and to express them through visual art, movement, sound, writing or drama. This process fosters release, self-understanding, insight and awakens creativity and transpersonal states of consciousness."

1. What is the creative stuff all about?

The concept of person-centred expressive arts is that we are tapping into unconscious parts of self. As children, we are innately creative with playing and creating being such an integral part of discovering the world. However, as we get older, we seem to forget this part of ourselves, to favour more linear and rational thinking. Being caught up in our thinking mind can result in discomfort, dissatisfaction and confusion, close friends of anxiety and depression. Thus, creative expression awakens and revives parts of self that we suppress. This gives us a more well-rounded view of who we are as people.

2. What mediums do you use?

I use mark-making (drawing with pencil, pen, pastels), movement (this might just be a hand movement or gesture), poetry, collage or play (using figurines). This is what I typically might bring to the table during a session, but you might have your own ideas of what you would like to use. This could be photography, or music.

3. Do I have to do creative stuff in sessions?

No, you definitely do not. I understand the pressure being presented with a blank page can ensue, and so if you do not feel comfortable with trying it, then you can always decline. I offer opportunities to explore in an invitational way, so the choice is yours - it is your session, after all! Creativity may not resonate with you, and that is okay - talking through things using the person-centred approach may be enough for you in the therapeutic process.

4. But my drawings are never any good, how can that be useful for therapy?

Sometimes when I suggest to do something creative with clients, statements like 'I am no good at this' follow. Being 'good' at art is belief instilled in us from a young age, and it always felt as though an elite few made the cut of being artistic. But, I want to assure you, that there is no need for your drawings, collages or poems to be 'good', in fact, there is no judgment here at all. There is no emphasis on the finished product, but it is more about the actual process of expressing that is important. Exploration of the process includes the choice of colour, words or picture, what feelings arrive as you create, how you draw (maybe quickly or slowly), how you feel as you look at it. It is my job to ask you these questions to help you understand your process here, which will in turn, help you understand yourself.

5. Will you interpret my art?

I think this is a very valid question, as we sometimes associate images in therapy sessions with Freudian Rorschach's Test (Ink Blot Test), in which these would be interpreted by the observer, and the therapist would then deduce certain characteristics or personality traits from the interpretation. By contrast, the role of the person-centred expressive arts is that it is still person-centred at its core. This means that you will extract meaning and understanding from what you have created, and I will ask questions to help your process. Creative expressions are precious and so unique to the individual, that it is important you find your own meaning from these, rather me projecting what I think I see. Therefore, no, I will respectfully, not interpret your art :)

6. Can I take my expressions home with me?

Yes, of course you can. You can also leave them with me if you want to, and I will store them away in a locked suitcase for confidentiality. Some people like to keep a journal of creative expressions to capture their journey, whilst others want to leave what has been explored in the therapy room confined to that space and time.

There you have it! If you have any further questions that are unanswered here, please send me a message - I would love to hear from you.

V x


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