A creative space to grow from…the therapeutic relationship

“There are many ways of getting strong,

sometimes talking is the best way.”

― Andre AgassiOpen

What comes to mind when you hear the word “creativity”? For me it immediately goes to art, music, photography. But there is so much more to creativity than those amazing visible, tangible, observable forms.

Society tells us that there are a few commonly agreed and accepted – and possibly more obvious – ways of being creative: through sculpture, painting, music, photography, all visible, tangible, observable.

But, according to McMaster (2009), there are as many forms of creativity as there are intelligences, as described by Howard Gardner (1983). These include the ones mentioned above, but also include:

  • Discussing and exchanging ideas, as a way of building relationships
  • playing sports, enjoying movement, going on walking tours, noticing others’ and your own body language
  • problem solving abilities, creating schedules and budgeting
  • journaling, reading, meditating, study to answer personal questions or write a blog
  • tell stories, write essays, chat with peers

I have highlighted a few of those creative forms in the list above, because I believe they are an important part of the therapeutic relationship.

So, from what I’ve said so far, I can link creativity and the therapeutic relationship in the following sentence:

The therapeutic relationship is a safe space that allows both the client and the therapist to express themselves freely, sometimes in a playful and humorous manner, in order to explore the client’s curiosity about themselves, their dreams, the issues that bring them to therapy now, as well as finding a different, new – creative – way of getting their lives back on track.

The therapeutic relationship will develop through time, trust needs time to grow, and this will happen as discussion and exchange of ideas takes place between therapist and client. Both parties have a responsibility in the building of a positive therapeutic relationship:

Image result for therapeutic relationship quotesThe client will trust the therapist with their inner world, their personal story, their pain, their deepest thoughts…the therapist will gently guide the client to explore more and more deeply (and at the client’s pace) the issues that bring them to therapy – this requires the observation of non-verbal cues from the client, maybe of discomfort, of pulling away from the conversation, maybe even keeping silent or missing a session.

In that sense, intuition is a great creative tool for therapists. There is unconscious communication going on all the time between two people or groups of people, and this is enhanced  even more in the therapeutic relationship. The therapist might be feeling angry/sad/upset on behalf of the client, while the client is smiling away. Noticing this and telling the client what the therapist might be experiencing, might be a great – creative – way to get to the core of the client’s issue and start or continue the healing process.

Practicing as a therapist and developing my skills regularly, allows me to find new ways to be creative with my clients, achieving success in helping them “get back on track”, heal their wounds from the past and from current situations. Flowing freely between what happened in their childhood or other stages of their past (50,20,10,5,2,1 years ago), and relating it to what is going on for them right now is one of my internalised ways of working, and seeing the effect this has on both my client and the therapeutic relationship is awesome!

Creativity in the therapy room is present more times than not, there is no way that therapy would work without it, in my opinion. The exploration of thoughts and feelings, and the creation of new ways of thinking, feeling and coping, would not be possible without the opening of the mind to different possibilities. We have all heard the quote

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

Image result for therapeutic relationship quotes

Counselling is about looking at that “same thing”, seeing why it worked in the past but might not be working now, and finding a “thing” that will give us those different results we have been searching for.

Rogers looked for more creative ways to help his clients, and found that he had moved from expert to more of a companion to his clients, meaning that his creativity in the therapy room moved from looking for the right cure or treatment, and even looking for the best way to change the client in front of him, to channelling his energy towards developing a relationship that would allow that change to happen naturally and organically:

“In my early professional years I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for their own personal growth?” 
Carl R. Rogers, 1961)


Image result for therapeutic relationship quotes

Gardner, H. (1983)  Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences,  Fontana Press.


McMaster, R. (2009). The 8 types of creative intelligence. Accessed on

http://lateralaction.com/articles/multiple-intelligences/. Lateral Action

Rogers, C. (1961). On becoming a person. Houghton-Mifflin Co.

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