Increasing Creativity and Hope in Your Therapy
Sometimes even the most effective therapists get worn out; when this happens, our creative spirit may disappear from the therapy office. In this post I will present some research-based information about being more creative in our work, and add additional information about using mindfulness to enhance your clients’ hope. This information will also expand your own hope. We all know that hope is one of the most important element in therapy and counseling. Here are a few suggestion from Scientific American for enhancing our creative energies.
- Stop just talking! It is important to utilize all pathways of consciousness, not just verbal, cognitive, and prefrontal activation.
- Use lots of sensory interventions. Plan and implement interventions using all the human senses.
- Use lots of symbols in therapy, and have your client come up with their own symbols to represent what they are experiencing in life. Symbols for solutions are very important.
- Use lots of metaphors in your talking cures. Invite your client to come up with their own metaphors.
- Utilize your own clinical knowledge, and go deeply into your client’s beliefs, aspirations, and behavioral activations in those aspirations.
- Remain open to the possibilities within creativity – your own and your client’s.
- Do not be critical of “off-the-wall” ideas your client may have. Criticism stifles creativity and open conversation. How might you use their suggestions in creative ways?
- Do your best to remain positive in the work. This requires good self-care and clinical supervision.
- Use left-hemisphere powers to plan and evaluate interventions and new behaviors; use right hemisphere powers to activate more creative ways of doing the business of change.
- Use lots of colors to help your client develop visual images and pictures of desired changes. Add symbols and metaphors within the projective drawing interventions. No “stick-figures!”
- When you are stuck, use free association to see what comes into consciousness about moving on.
Others with psychological background suggest that there are at least seven ways to enhance creativity. These ways include conscious and unconscious aspects of creative process and emotions. Use your personal values and reflective introspection to find sources of creativity in love, in nature, using the muse, in your own suffering, via regular meditative practice, in sacredness, and in art.
You may also find it helpful to use writing and poetry. Sometimes it helps by using the creativity of others. In the final analysis we all know we cannot simply turn-on creativity just because we wish to do so; it comes when we are ready to use it well. Follow the suggested areas above to stimulate your readiness to be more creative int your therapy and in your life.
Hopefully this information will help you to experiment with being more creative in your counseling and therapy. Now let’s take a look at ideas for enhancing and expanding hope. Using mindfulness and presence while practicing the Zen Buddhist paramitas or perfections may open up pathways to patience and caring. In our current disruptive world it is easy to get lost in the “I-Smart” phone next contact (an addiction); it is easy to allow others to influence our expectations and moods – often for the worse. The I/Me/Mine attitude of our narcissistic culture may be modified by the self-affirming realties of “The Perfections” (to give and to receive with grace, to use skillful actions, to be patient, to augment effort, to meditate, and “see” clearly). Engaging in these behaviors may help us return to the true self and an authentic life. The wisdom of these ancient teachings may open up the light in our dark nights of the soul. Living the foundations of The Perfections may liberate our deep hope for the better. Correctly taking and giving with patience and effort can enter our regular meditation practice. We may see more clearly what is important, as well as what path to take in any given challenge. Living our life with The Perfections in mind, body, and behavior expands hope for ourselves and for others. How might you creatively introduce The Perfections to your client (only with permission – they are Buddhist)?
For more information refer to DiChristina, M. (Ed.). (2008). Brainstorming: Using Science to Spark Maximum Creativity. New York: MacMillan Audio Books. See also Rizzetto, D. (2019). Deep Hope: Zen Guidance for Staying Steadfast When the World Seems Hopeless. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications. Quibell, D. A., Selig, J. L., and Slatery, D. P. (2019). Deep Creativity: Seven Ways to Spark Your Creative Spirit. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont and the Home of The Monkton Sangha
Author of Mindful Happiness