Traditional talk therapy is great! However, more creative therapy approaches have been found to be helpful to children and adults. Creative approaches allow clients both young and old to tap into their imagination while learning life skills. Some creative approaches are also known as expressive arts therapy. These therapies include music, art, movement, and dance, just to name a few. Lately, other non-traditional creative approaches that have been used by therapists such as animal-assisted therapy, horticulture therapy and equine therapy. Below are a couple of creative approaches I use in my personal life as mental refreshments (aka self-care), and I am planning to introduce these approaches to clients soon.
I am learning photography and it has been therapeutic for me. I enjoy capturing moments in nature and moments with my family. Photography has also helped me as an outlet when I am overwhelmed or anxious. Personally, I use writing with photography to get thoughts out of my head and use the writing as inspiration for me to capture moments of beauty. Photography can be used when feeling anxious, depressed or any other heightened emotion. Photography is helpful because you can do it independently or with others while releasing those feelings outside of you. In therapy, I plan to take clients outside to capture their own inspirations and process afterwards.
Cooking/baking has been therapeutic for me long before I was a therapist. I have early memories of being connected with food from my grandmother. Full transparency: I enjoy baking more than cooking. I acknowledge that I am frustrated, angry or experiencing other emotions and choose to release those emotions through the process of baking a tasty treat or baking scrumptious bread. Baking takes time, which is great for processing your emotions through the steps of following a recipe or creating your own thing. It allows you to calm down over time and work through what was going on in that moment of stress. In therapy, this can look like providing recipes and creating baked goods and processing both their emotions and the process of using baking as an intervention. This could also look like creating recipes and processing through that channel if you want to incorporate writing in the process. Also, clients can enjoy their tasty treat afterwards or take to home to remind themselves of the moment.
I leave you with these reflective questions: Have you ever tried any of these creative approaches in your therapy sessions or in your personal lives? If not, are you willing to try any as mental refreshers for yourself or with your clients? Are there are other creative approaches that you have found effective?
Janeisha Hood Rogers is a doctoral candidate in the counselor education and supervision program in Chicago, IL. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) that has worked as a therapist in various settings including schools, community mental health agencies and in-patient hospitals. Janeisha is also a social justice advocate and enjoys raising awareness and educating others on mental health topics, social and cultural issues, and holistic healing.