Mindful Creativity uses artmaking to help people express deep emotions, gain insight, and remember skills learned during psychotherapy sessions. Clients don't have to be artists or consider themselves "artistic", to benefit from this type of therapy. Those who are drawn to it tend to have a love of color, creativity, stories, and crafting. The term "Mindful Creativity" was coined when I began running creative arts therapy groups, and refers to the different ways we use mindfulness while working on art projects.
For years, I noticed that when I ran groups which focused on learning DBT and CBT skills, clients were often interested, but couldn't remember the concepts we learned from week to week. Some were turned off by the long worksheets (or "walls of text"), while others earnestly stored the papers in a folder, meaning to review them, but never quite finding the motivation.
Each person who works with me, either in person or in group, gets to choose a recycled book to make into an art journal. Part "bullet journal" and part scrapbook, these personal art journals are used to save projects we make or illustrate important personal ideas. They're fun to use and look back on- for example, wouldn't you rather look at this than a wordy photocopy?
The journals are not only fun to make and look at, but because much of the information is coded, or known only to you, it's easy to share them with other people. You can show a friend the cool collage you made, but they don't need to know it was about having been bullied at work, and contains a message for you about how to keep assertive boundaries.
When you use Mindful Creativity, you're not only learning and practicing DBT and CBT skills in that moment, you are also producing tangible reminders of those skills. We all know we need to remind ourselves of new ways of thinking, but we often have a hard time with this type of focus. Having visual reminders such as bracelets, collages, paintings, sculptures, help to cue us throughout the day to practice skills such as using a "non-judgemental stance", so that we can rebuild our own self esteem and other people's too.
We sometimes make things that are deliberately not pretty, things we plan to burn, bury, smash, or float away in water. These experiences are incredibly cathartic, and are remembered deeply in the body, healing over past hurts.
If you're a "creative type" who has tried therapy before and found that it just didn't stick, or you couldn't access the skills you needed in a crisis, please know there are others like you, and that there are interventions like Mindful Creativity that will work for you.
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