When many people think of therapy, they think of talking about problems and working through them with a compassionate therapist. Incorporating creativity into the therapeutic process can be extremely beneficial, however, in helping to attain greater emotional integration and resolution.
Whereas discussing our issues engages the analytical side of the brain and assists us with working through our problems on an intellectual level, adding creativity to the mix can help deepen the process and inspire new solutions to the difficulties we face. This approach can be very useful, especially at times when we feel stuck or as if we just keep going in circles.
The following creative endeavors can enrich the therapeutic process and enable us to more fully work through any unhealed emotional aspects of the issues we are dealing with:
1. Drawing, Painting, or Sculpting
These are all great techniques to use to express what is going on inside of us. When we become creative, we tend to get in touch with our emotional nature and convey our feelings in a more symbolic way.
An effective method to try would be to seek to represent an inner state of being through the artwork, which can be done either through carefully selected imagery or in a more abstract way. Sculpting can be helpful by allowing us to externalize pent-up emotions while molding the clay, as well as forming shapes or figures to symbolize what we are going through. Imagery or sculptures can also be used to represent dreams, which can be further explored in therapy.
2. Making Mandalas
This is another endeavor that can be very helpful and healing. Mandalas are symbolic representations of wholeness and are therefore very useful in reestablishing a sense of unity, especially for individuals who may have experienced trauma.
In Buddhism, mandalas are considered to be sacred objects that spiritual seekers use during meditation in order to help them achieve enlightenment. In the therapy process, creating and/or painting mandalas can be experienced as very healing and restorative. Even if you feel you are not a very creative person, there are a number of mandala coloring books on the market that have recently become popular and that anyone (adults and children) can use for therapeutic purposes.
Whereas discussing our issues engages the analytical side of the brain and assists us with working through our problems on an intellectual level, adding creativity to the mix can help deepen the process and inspire new solutions to the difficulties we face.
This is another effective way to express what we are feeling. For some, this might take the form of writing poetry, which can be a wonderful means of sharing deep feelings with others. Poems can reach down through the years, break through our defenses, and deeply touch our hearts in ways that few other forms of expression can.
If you are not the poetic type, you might want to consider writing a blog to share your feelings with others. If you are more reserved and uninterested in posting for all to see, journaling might be a better option. Journaling can serve to get emotions off one’s chest, especially when going through a difficult time. These written notes can also serve to track emotional states from one day to the next, and can be helpful to share during therapy sessions in order to provide greater insight into one’s issues.
Dancing and other forms of expressive bodywork can also be extremely useful when working through problems. If movement appeals to you, psychodrama therapy groups may be beneficial, as they can provide more insight and help resolve emotional issues on a deeper level than simply talking about them might do.
Although talk therapy can be extremely beneficial, adding one or more of the creative undertakings and expressive arts above can make the process even deeper and more meaningful. Regardless of whether you are in therapy, adding a creative component to your life can help bring about greater emotional healing, clarity, and resolution.
© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Wendy Salazar, MFT, therapist in San Diego, California
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