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Mar 01, 2018

Enriching your Counseling Toolbox

If you’re like me, you immediately envision a giant check when you hear the word clearinghouse.  Sadly, I have no balloons or prize-money for you (trust me, I wish).  There’s a different type of clearinghouse, however, that might not make you rich, but it can add some richness to your clinical repertoire.

ACA and the Association for Creativity in Counseling (ACC) have developed an archive of creative activities to use within counseling, supervision, and counselor education settings.  To date, about 70 activities are available to peruse and download through the Creative Interventions Clearinghouse.  This list continues to grow, and you can contribute your own novel practices to help it expand.

Why I love this database:

  • It’s open to all ACA members
  • Most activities are only one page long, yet they are comprehensive in nature.Procedures, implications, and limitations are discussed.
  • It is organized by clinical setting, ranging from private practice to college counseling centers
  • Many activities are empirically supported, and the creators provide information on further reading
  • Neither you nor your client need to be “skilled” or “talented” in the arts to partake in these
  • These original works are designed for counselors, by counselors

Below are a few of my clearinghouse favorites. Notice, I’ve chosen ones for adults, as a gentle reminder that creative interventions are for all ages.

For couples

Helping Couples Reconnect Using a Music Chronology by Thelma Duffey

Through this activity, couples construct a timeline of their story using personally meaningful music.  The counselor and clients explore memories, themes, and hopes associated with the couple’s song selections.

For college students

Who I Am And Can Be: The Magic Mirror by Jane Warren, Amanuel Haile Asfaw, Lindsay Stoffers, & Natasha Trujillo

The counselor uses a brief children’s story (included with the full intervention) to discuss how we develop our self-image.  Though “The Mirror Story” can be used with younger clients, its themes of self-concept and identity are especially relevant for emerging adults.

For clinical supervisees

Mandalas in Supervision, by Shelley Jackson, Joel Muro, Yueh-Ting Lee, & Kathy DeOrnellas

This activity allows supervisees to tap into their cases from a more subconscious perspective.  Supervisees create mandalas using crayons, markers, and other art supplies.  The supervisor and supervisee use elements of the mandala (colors, shapes, lines, numbers) to analyze and discuss the junior counselor’s thoughts and feelings regarding the case.

For counseling students

Ethics Bookmarks, by Jane Warren, Guilherme Zavaschi, Christin Covello, & Noor Zakaria

Counseling students can connect with their ethics lessons by making a bookmark.  Through text (notes, quotes, key words) and images (photos, drawings, colors), students construct their own meaning of the ethics material presented in class.  Not to mention, they have a reference tool to keep on hand throughout their studies and field placements.

Bear in mind, these snapshots are simplified and don’t do the interventions justice.  Please check out the full versions at the links below.

If you feel that creative interventions aren’t for you, that’s okay.  They do come with a bit of pre-planning and some extra materials.  If you or your client have an aversion to creative techniques, I do encourage you to “lean in” to that resistance to determine what significance creativity has for you.

Christine Hennigan Paone is a new professional and aspiring counselor educator.  She currently co-teaches at Monmouth University, where she actively engages in counselor education research. Her interests include creativity in counseling, career counseling, and pedagogy.

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