Creative Therapies

What are the Creative Therapies?

Unlike some of the other versions or definitions of creativity I’ve covered in this series of ten blog posts, ‘creative therapies’ has a pretty specific definition and purpose. We’re talking about a specialised form of therapy that uses the creative arts somehow. In other words, you go with a particular issue you want to work through, and you can expect to interact with a trained therapist in relation to a particular art form. It can involve journaling or recording and reflecting on the process, and the therapy might be part of a particular service: for people recovering from addiction, for example, or for those who are grieving, or for people with mental illness.

Is it formal or structured?

It can be very structured, and some therapies are offered on the NHS here in the UK. There are well-established training courses available in art therapy, music therapy and drama therapy, for example. When applied to writing, the therapeutic approach is usually called ‘writing for well being’ or ‘writing for personal development’. The go-to ‘writing for well being’ organisation in the UK is Lapidus.

Sometimes a creative workshop will aim to help with personal development but it won’t be run by a qualified therapist or be part of a formal programme. It’s a matter of emphasis. It would be frustrating to attend a workshop intended to teach a craft or a creative discipline when what you wanted was personal development – or the other way round. So write down what your aims are before you go looking for a class, and use ‘personal development’ or ‘well being’ as a search term when you’re researching the options if that’s what you’re after.

The overlap

The last three definitions – self-actualisation, self-expression and creative therapies – overlap with one another a great deal, but the creative therapies are more organised (for example, into a scheduled number of sessions with a qualified workshop leader), and have a particular purpose – to help people with whatever they’re dealing with.

The polar opposite

Imagine someone in a creative thinking session who wanted a creative form of personal development. This is a good example of how knowing specifically what kind of creativity you’re talking about will help you to discover your own creative side – and that’s been the point of these blog posts all along.

Which version of creativity chimes with you?

Which one chimes with you? Do you want to be more playful, or learn how to do a particular craft? Do you want to get into a creative side of business like marketing or design? Do you want to find a job in a creative industry? Do you want to learn or teach creatively or help your kids to learn creatively? Do you want to practise a creative discipline like photography or portraiture or novel writing? Is creativity more about problem solving for you? In which case, you need to look into creative thinking techniques.

Becoming the person you always were and self-expression usually go hand-in-hand – do you want to find your voice, express your feelings, or get more involved in your life-long passion? Are you after personal development and a better sense of well being? Is there an issue you’d like to explore through creative techniques?

You’ll probably be drawn to more than one of these, but I hope I’ve proved that saying ‘I’m just not creative’ isn’t going to wash anymore.


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