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Did You Know Therapy Was This Creative? + 4 Ways to Spark Creativity

Therapy 101, Personal Growth
5 min read

Many people have the misconception that therapy is always dry and stuffy. Yes, of course it can be challenging at times, but it can (and should) also be creative, exciting and even sometimes, fun. 

The process of therapy is itself creative after all. 

How? Let me share...

1. You and your therapist are working together to help you create new ways of thinking, feeling and doing things. Every individual is unique, so the therapeutic process must be unique to each individual as well. This means creatively assembling a plan with your therapist that makes the most sense for your specific issues, needs and goals.  

2. Creativity can also be super helpful in therapy when it comes to helping your therapist understand you. We most commonly use words to try to explain ourselves, or what we’re thinking or feeling but sometimes words fall short. It can be great to bring a song, a meme or TikTok, or a visual image that shows how you feel. You know that feeling you get when you see something on social media or out in the world and you go “That’s exactly how I feel!” ? You can bring that into therapy! It can be a great opportunity to help your therapist understand you. 

3. It can be really helpful to have a therapist who can also communicate in the ways that make the most sense for you. Some of us best understand things through words, and some of us process better through images. Sometimes, both are helpful. Your therapist might use metaphors, images, and art therapy to help you better understand the human mind and experiences. 

When you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, and other mental health issues, you tend to be stuck in rigid, “all or nothing” ways of thinking. Creativity is a practice in being more open-minded and curious, helping us to discover new ways of looking at things. Just by going to therapy you are already demonstrating a desire to create new ways of being, thinking and seeing things. Even if you don’t currently consider yourself a particularly creative person, you and your therapist can tap into creativity together in your sessions.  

This more open state of mind can reduce stress and shame, while increasing self compassion, and flexibility which can improve your relationships and connections with others as well. 

Looking to boost creativity in your own life? Here are 4 simple tips you can try today:

  1. Change up a routine. It can be something as small as starting on the opposite side of where you usually brush your teeth, or driving a new route to work, school or the grocery store. When engaged in routines our brains create patterns. Synapses in the brain learn to fire together and create these established, predictable patterns. This can be very comforting as it simplifies things for us. But when you’re trying to inspire some creativity, shaking these patterns up a bit can be helpful. When you make a change to one of these patterns, you create new connections between synapses in your brain, increasing flexibility and openness. Making a change like this can open your mind to seeing new connections in other areas, boosting creativity.  

  2. Get bored. We are so accustomed to being in a state of go, go, go; always thinking of what’s next on the to do list. Structuring time where you do “nothing” can help you to be more creative because you give your mind the opportunity to wonder and explore just for the sake of wondering (kind of like what happens in the shower!). Don’t necessarily try to force yourself to do something creative in this time, just see what your mind is drawn to. 

  3. Limit distractions. Set aside time in your schedule to turn your phone off or on Do Not Disturb. I recommend putting your phone in a drawer or another room. Turn off the TV and turn off the WiFi on your computer if you’re on one. We spend so much of our time with part of our focus constantly checking and scanning for information from our email and texts. When you remove this distraction you give your mind more space for creativity. 

  4. Get inspired. Go to a museum or interactive art experience. Watch a movie or TV show you’ve never seen before. Listen to music. Surrounding yourself with creativity can trigger your own creative juices and get you excited about creating something of your own. 

Whether you work on this inside or outside of your sessions, you might find that creativity is exactly how you understand, process and express your feelings. So, use it!

 

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About the author: Kate Nichols, LSW is a psychotherapist and trauma specialist working with women & queer folx in NJ. She specializes in working with creatives, blending science-based treatments with creative expression to help her clients process their experiences. 

Follow Kate for more content @cyclebreakerstherapy , or connect with Kate directly via her website here


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