VISTAS Counselor Education and Supervision

VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.

Assessing Creative Approaches in Beginning Counselors: Building the Foundation

Allison L. Smith


Creative approaches in counseling can be defined as using techniques involving music, dance and movement, imagery, visual arts, drama and play, and humor (Gladding, 2005). In counseling, creative approaches can be used in various settings (Carson & Becker, 2004). Authors (Bowman & Boone, 1998) have discussed the benefits of using creativity in a group setting, in particular raising self awareness and community development. In fact, compared to more linear approaches to counseling, creative counseling has been described as providing clients different opportunities for bringing thoughts and feelings into awareness, since creative approaches allow clients to express themselves in multiple ways, which can lead to increased awareness of self and others (Gladding, 2005). Creative approaches in counseling allow a client the opportunity to “experience.” Authors (Carpenter, 2002) have discussed potential positive outcomes of experiencing for clients, including the notion that experiencing is a powerful teacher, and learning is increased through this mechanism. In addition, clients can access emotions more quickly and in a more authentic way when experiencing. Some of the usual defenses that serve as protective features are not as readily available when experiencing. Creative approaches oftentimes feel playful to clients, so that this way of working is unexpected and unfamiliar to clients so that perhaps clients are more open to the counseling process (Carson & Becker, 2004).

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