A More Creative Self

creative practice Dec 16, 2018

I’ve written before about how intriguing I find the concept “use of self.” I first heard of it when I was getting my master’s in social work. I find it helpful because it reminds me that we serve as tools, resources for our clients - we use ourselves in their service. As helping professionals, we make ourselves available to our clients in how we act (and interact), and in what we disclose. We're instrumental. We bring our entire being to the work, whether we intend to or not. And that includes everything:  our beliefs, our experiences, the paradigms we use to organize our worlds (and the client's).

I think creativity has a place in all that.

As I’ve worked to create my forthcoming program on creativity for therapists, counselors, and coaches, I’ve had to grapple with what it means to be “more creative.” That’s entailed an inventory of my own creative experiences, observation of the creative accomplishments of others, and a...

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Envisioning Your Private Practice

Going into private practice is a dream for many helping professionals, even while in graduate school. It certainly was for me. So even as I accrued my requirements for licensure, even as I studied for my credentialing exam, I dreamed of private practice. It was a dream I actively nurtured by “starting” the practice well before it became a reality.

How did I start? By looking at available office spaces online and by envisioning myself in those spaces. By preparing my intake paperwork packet. By designing my business card and website, going through many, many versions until things felt just right. By thinking of who I wanted to serve and how. By drafting my Psychology Today listing.

In short:  I started by using my imagination.

I took the initiative to actively visualize the look and feel of my practice, my clients, and the kind of day I wanted to experience. I imagined what my office would look like, where it would be located, and the tone it would convey. I worked...

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Thingification

I had a few conversations with colleagues this week who (coincidentally) wanted to make a change in their professional practice by doing more work in advocacy and social justice. They clearly felt this was the direction they wanted to pursue, but they weren’t quite sure how to proceed.

This is the way a creative impulse feels. It often begins as a yearning - the feeling of longing coupled with a general sense of direction, but without the clarity.

Yet.

I have a suggestion:  gain clarity by taking the ideas that accompany those feelings and “thingify” them. How? Give them form. You can begin with something as simple and straightforward as a list. But I suggest you go a little further and create an array of Post-Its. Or you can go even further (if you’re inclined toward playful risk-taking) and sculpt your ideas free-form with clay to see what comes out the other end.

(I suspect most of you feel comfortable with the first 2 suggestions, but a little...

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Bring a Creative Self to Your Sessions

creative practice Apr 23, 2018

A concept I found most compelling while studying for my MSW was “use of self.” The term described the intersection between acquired knowledge and skills on the one hand, and the personal characteristics of the social worker on the other.

Maybe it goes without saying that helping professionals use themselves to do the work, but for me the idea of “use of self” got at something subtle and easily overlooked: that the helper is a kind of instrument or tool with unique qualities. I think it’s more common to think of ourselves as using tools rather than being them. It was eye opening to consider myself a tool - as a self with characteristic features that are instrumental in the client work.

When I tell people of the new business I’m creating to help therapists and other helping professionals be more creative, they usually assume that I’m teaching art therapy techniques - interventions therapists can use in their client sessions. Doing...

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