Creativity Therapy

Creativity therapy is the use of drawing, painting, writing, sculpting, or playing music as a form of stress relief and also as a way of dealing with emotional or psychological problems. Art therapy has a long history of helping patients work through problems and unblock creativity through certain techniques, and requires a trained art therapist. Creativity therapy is a more general term for using creativity on your own to help relieve your own stress. Art therapy is a kind of creativity therapy, but it is not the only kind. In creativity therapy, you can write poetry, play the piano, even mold homemade playdough to help relieve your own stress and express your creativity.

Creativity therapy is an excellent way to relieve stress. When you become immersed in creation, you can achieve a kind of intense, all-consuming focus similar to the intense focus and concentration you can achieve through a meditation practice. Allowing yourself to become one with your creation — your painting, your drawing, your poem, your short story, your journal entry, your sculpture, your music — helps you to let go, even for a little while, of the stresses in your life. Your body responds by relaxing, counteracting the effects of too much stress.

As with meditation, creativity therapy teaches your mind to concentrate for a long period of time on a single thing — it's great practice and a great way to hone your mental power. Creativity therapy can also help you to feel good about who you are. Rather than spending your entire day doing what you're supposed to do or what other people want you to do, creativity therapy gives you a space solely for yourself, during which you can express your innermost thoughts, feelings, problems, anxieties, joys, and the imagery that sits deep within your subconscious waiting to be released.

How do you do it? Set aside thirty to sixty minutes each day. Choose your creative outlet. Maybe you will write in your journal, or practice the cello, or paint with watercolors, or draw the flowers in your garden, or dance to classical music in your living room. Whatever you choose, commit to this time as you would to a meditation time. Make it an unbreakable appointment. Then, sit down in a quiet place where you are unlikely to be disturbed, and start creating (or dancing or playing or whatever you are doing).

Try not to look at your creations or analyze your own performance, at least not carefully, until you've practiced creative therapy for one month. When the month is over, look carefully at what you've accomplished. Do you see patterns? Motifs? Themes? Words and images that recur in writing or painting or drawing are your personal themes. Movements or sounds can also have meaning for you, personally, if you are dancing or playing music. Spend some time meditating on what they could mean for you. What is your subconscious trying to tell you?

Let your creativity therapy be a private event. Whether you are painting, drawing, writing, sculpting, or playing, the important thing is not to try to create a “masterpiece.” This is private creation. This is just for you. Promise yourself you won't show it to anyone — at least not for a month, and then you can decide. For now, just let whatever is inside you flow out through the medium.

It doesn't even matter if you don't know how to draw, paint, write poetry, or whatever you choose to do. This is not work to be judged, analyzed, or displayed. This is work that comes directly from your subconscious. It is a process of releasing what you are holding onto, mentally, deep inside. And that feels good.

Here are some tips to remember when engaged in your creativity therapy:

  • As you work, don't stop. Write or draw continuously. If you stop, you'll be more likely to judge your work.

  • Don't judge your work!

  • Try creating when you are very tired. Sometimes fatigue dulls your conscious, organized, critical mind, allowing more images from the subconscious to flow through.

  • Promise yourself you won't read what you wrote or survey what you drew until the session is over. Otherwise, you're likely to start judging.

  • Don't be critical or disappointed in what you come up with. There is no wrong way to do this, unless you are judging yourself.

  • Stuck? Faced with a blank page? Just start writing or drawing without any thought or plan, even if you end up writing “I don't know what to write” for three pages or drawing a page full of stick figures. Eventually, you'll get tired of that and something else will come out.

  • Commit to the process. Even if it seems like it isn't working at first, thirty minutes (or just ten to fifteen minutes when you first try it) each and every day will yield dramatic results if you stick with it.

  • Don't think you can't do creative therapy because you “aren't creative.” Nonsense. Everyone is creative. Some people just haven't developed their creativity as much as others, and creativity therapy is just as helpful (if not more helpful) for nonartists, who aren't already indoctrinated into how they are “supposed to” create something.

  • Most importantly, enjoy the process! Creativity therapy is illuminating, interesting, and fun!

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