SAD and Creativity

Posted by: Priya Senroy on December 16, 2015 10:26 am

Nearly the end of the year and it has been an eye opening time for me both personally and professionally. The number of my clients who are experiencing SAD or seasonal affective disorder is on the rise and I am choosing to take a different and more creative intervention approach to address this issue. Clients have mentioned that they are able to cope better with their indisposition when they are being more creative.

We know that there is a direct relation between mood and creativity. I know that when I am sad, I want to listen to upbeat music to help bring me out of the funk. However, crayonshere is what I found after doing some research as part of my work.

The first finding is that our fleeting feelings can change the way we think. Because sadness makes us more focused and diligent, it sharpens attention. The second takeaway is that many of our creative challenges involve tasks that require diligence, persistence and focus. It’s not easy making a collage, writing a poem or solving a hard technical problem. Sometimes, being a little miserable can improve our creative performance.

While there has been speculation that there’s some correlation between sadness and creativity, I am finding that as my clients are reaching rock bottom, they are reaching creative peaks. Some of their expressions have been more creative and cathartic than at times when they were not SAD-emotionally and diagnostically.

There are numerous blogs and articles which offer some rich information on this subject, including the following article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prescriptions-life/201204/little-weird-prone-depression-blame-your-creative-brain.

So the next time there is SADness in the air, open the windows and let it fuel your creativity.




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

When we Stumble, it is Simply Part of the Dance

Posted by: Bonney Elliott on November 3, 2015 12:55 pm

tangodanceAs we struggle to wrap minds and bodies around a new sequence, our wise dance teacher asserts that Argentine tango is not complicated, but complex. His words give me pause, and hope. Tango looks complicated, and takes years of practice to master. Yet, even the most dazzling choreography is essentially a pattern of basic steps.

As a psychotherapist, this distinction seems quite relevant beyond the dance floor. Helping clients who are suffering to make sense out their lives can feel complicated, but perhaps the intricate dance of psychotherapy is, like tango, a layering of steps and patterns.

A few concepts that simplify therapeutic relationship for me are connection, presence, self-awareness, humility and perspective. When a dance goes well, the partners are in sync. They have a strong, tangible connection that transcends the alchemy of physical chemistry or attraction. Dancers communicate with each other, often nonverbally. Therapists deliberately cultivate and maintain empathetic attunement with our clients. Connection is the fulcrum for therapy. When Ego steps into the space between us, connection wavers. Miscommunications happen. Insecurity and perfectionism complicate relationships.

As dance partners need to be fully present to each other to coordinate their steps and negotiate the space of the dance floor, the therapeutic process flows when we manage to stay together in the moment with our clients. Mindful presence helps us to keep in step and rhythm, to focus on what is actually happening. Staying centered in any complex relationship takes self-awareness. Partner dancing is not about one controlling the lead or the other blindly following. They work together, each learning to maintain individual frame and axis of balance. Similarly, therapy evolves when both partners are able to keep their feet under them, therapist self-awareness nurturing client self-awareness.

To grow and learn is to be vulnerable. Good dancers expect to make mistakes, to fall in and out of sync and rhythm. As the saying goes, when you stumble, make it part of the dance. Err graciously. They improve over time at stepping back to figure out how a small step gone awry threw off the entire pattern. Similarly, therapy is rarely a linear process. One step forward, two steps back. Creating new patterns of being requires patience and practice. It takes humility to own our fears and foibles while gently calling our clients on theirs.

Keeping perspective is important. The essence of any dance is simply expressive movement to music. Good dancers attend to the technical details while keeping in mind the bigger picture they are co-creating. Whatever theoretical methodologies we subscribe to and creative counselling techniques we weave in to help our clients wade through the intricacies of human feeling, thought and circumstance, the essence of our work is the co-creation of meaningful, compassionate dialogue. Simply put, psychotherapy is a therapeutic conversation. Inherently complex, but not necessarily complicated.




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Tree of Life

Posted by: Priya Senroy on October 2, 2015 7:00 am

winter-260838_1280

I have always been a fan of trees-specially the big sprawling ones like banyan trees, with their ever embracing branches, deep roots and lots of nurturing shades. These trees are embodiment of different kinds of lives. So when the metaphor is used as a therapeutic tool or approach, it gains different dimensions, different identity not only for the tree itself but also for the artists.

This approach enables people to speak about their lives in ways that make them stronger. It involves people drawing their own ‘tree of life’ in which they get to speak of their ‘roots’ (where they come from), their skills and knowledges, their hopes and dreams, as well as the special people in their lives. The clients then join their trees into a ‘forest of life’ and, in groups, discuss some of the ‘storms’ that affect their lives and ways that they respond to these storms, protect themselves, and each other.

This metaphor can be used with clients experiencing different issues, whether on individual or collective levels. The beauty of the tree is that it is approachable, non-judgemental and life giving. And so is the metaphor, when used appropriately, this creative art technique is a great counselling technique and can be used complimenting genograms, exploring self as well as family dynamics.

To learn more about its specific uses, http://www.lifecoachingwithlindsay.com/downloads/Prosperity_Tree_Handouts.pdf isa starting point.

 




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Presence

Posted by: Sherry Law on August 25, 2015 5:00 am

DSC_80601

In one of my previous posts I mentioned a phenomenon called presence, which is a potent experience capable of convincing a person that they occupy a place which they do not exist physically. This experience is difficult to describe but is the quintessential point I, and other researchers in the field of virtual reality, believe the technological and the therapeutic intersect. This post will attempt to explain how presence is achieved and how it can be therapeutic.

Presence, in terms of artistic experience, is also called immersion, explained by philosopher, Samuel Coleridge, as a “suspension of disbelief”. This experience can occur in any medium, such as a good book, or a tv show. If you can imagine a quiet evening with a book where an exciting story can make you forget that you have been turning the page for hours. This is an example of immersion. You feel as though you are a visitor to the story, or a witness to the events unfolding in your minds eye. What virtual reality (VR) accomplishes is immersion but replacing the minds eye with direct visual input. Continue reading




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

So how can my problem be solved creatively?

Posted by: Priya Senroy on August 21, 2015 2:31 pm

Last week I had the opportunity to facilitate a working on creative problem solving with a group who were exploring different ways of addressing emotional wellness. Although creative problem solving has been around as long as humans have been thinking creatively and solving problems, I found it refreshing to revisit some of the activities and then use it myself to address the roadblocks in a fun way which also were great stress relievers. So what is Creative problem-solving? It is defined in the web as a type of problem solving, it is the mental process of searching for a new and novel creative solution to a problem, a solution which is novel, original and not obvious. Continue reading




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

When Arts, CBT and Trauma Decided to Form a Partnership

Posted by: Priya Senroy on July 16, 2015 11:52 am

Summer is fireading-767919_640nally here and I am excited about connecting my neurotransmitters with different evidence based practices so that I can inject different creative ideas combined with psychotherapeutic models.

So it’s time to go back to the virtual library and read voraciously. I came across these narrations: ” Jogging the Cogs: Trauma-Focused Art Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Sexually Abused Children” by Pifalo, T. (2007), and “Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association”, 24(4), 170-75; .

What I found interesting was the partnership of using creative art, trauma work and CBT. Even through it’s for a specific population, I am sure that it can be easily translated with any group as long as we understand the dynamic of the partnership. As I expand my tool box of activities and facilitation repertoire, I have come to realize that the modality of creative arts is flexible enough to absorb, modify and then deliver itself in a variety of ways using theories from different psychotherapeutic modalities. In my work using CBT, I often use worksheets as homework journaling thoughts and have found that words can sometimes be cumbersome and overwhelming for some. And I have been thinking on how to make it more accessible and interactive so that clients are not perturbed by the wordiness of the intervention. And that’s where creative arts come in as a value-added aspect of creative self-expression. When I use movement or a poetry or a piece of art or doodle as a way to record and translate the words into personal narratives, it seems to offer a channel for expression of experiences, and also supports the sensory-based understanding of how both the mind and body respond to anxiety and stress. And doodlefrom the book, I have gathered that art plus CBT plus trauma work have potential for bridging the gaps between the conscious and the unconscious. Pifalo who has conducted a number of research studies on trauma, using CBT and art therapy concludes the following:

“The visual nature of traumatic memory, the concrete graphic approach of art therapy, and the underlying structure of the cognitive behavioral approach create a powerful, efficient treatment model within which to achieve the goals of trauma focused therapy” (p.175).


By: Priya Senroy




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

A Conversation with Grief

Posted by: Bonney Elliott on July 9, 2015 4:00 pm

Internalized other interviews are a powerful Narrative Therapy practice. The therapist invites the client to speak from the imagined perspective of a significant person in their lives, living or dead. Often, this exercise elicits deep emotions and insights into relationships and values. People live inside of us.conversation-595827_640

At a narrative practice group on the subject of grief, my colleagues and I try a twist on the internalized other interview. None of us in the room are strangers to loss. There have been some very recent family deaths amongst the group. We decide that rather than interviewing a colleague who would connect with and speak as a particular internalized person, we will conduct the session as if she were the personification of Grief itself. My colleague plays the part impeccably. It feels as though she channels our collective experience. We are blown away, moved, and more deeply connected by the dialogue that ensues.

Welcome. Grief seems surprised. I’m not always welcome, she explains, sinking deeper into her chair. Ah, I nod. What is it like, to not feel welcome when you come to call? I ask. Grief answers from the heart. It is hard, she replies. She describes how out of sync she feels. The party guest who nobody knows what to say to. Hurt, alone, avoided, unwanted and cast aside. Trapped, but unable to leave. I understand though, I get it. I’m not easy to be with. Her tone is empathetic, compassionate.

My other colleagues listen intently, silent witnesses to her eloquence. Continue reading




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Yoga as a Form of Trauma Therapy

Posted by: Andrea Cashman on July 8, 2015 4:00 pm

There are many trauma therapies that focus on the body such as sensorimotor therapy and EMDR. Exercise itself is a healing modality for depression, anxiety, stress and especially trauma. Many therapists may turn towards CBT or exposure therapy or another form of psychotherapy, forgetting that the body may be a source of healing. I specifically want to talk about the effects of yoga on trauma as this is a great trauma tool to encourage clients to engage in. Yoga therapy has been understudied; however, has been shown to be an effective adjunct treatment for psychiatric disorders (Cabral et al.,)

Trauma and its effects on the body cause disregulation. In PTSD, the fight or flight system is broken causing prolonged symptoms of re-experiencing, avoidance and hyperarousal. Hyperarousal symptoms are the main embodiment of the physical symptoms within the body of a PTSD client. Clients may feel easily startled, hold tension within their bodies and have difficulty sleeping and exhibit angry outbursts (nimh.com). The body will hold onto that tension and not be able to regulate back to a calm state compared to someone who does not have PTSD.

Yoga has many physical benefits, one of which is retraining the body to be calm. The National Institutes of Health Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine defines mind-body interventions as “a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms.”Yoga practice enhances the connection between the mind and body, and it is used as a therapeutic intervention in a variety of diseases. The mechanisms that allow for the potential therapeutic effects of yoga involve the autonomic nervous system, especially a reduction in sympathetic tone, as well as activation of antagonistic neuromuscular systems and stimulation of the limbic system (Cabral et al.,)yoga

Continue reading




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Social Dancing Makes Me a Happier Therapist

Posted by: Bonney Elliott on June 12, 2015 8:18 am

It may even help me be a better one.

Here are a ten reasons why.

1. Dance modulates mood. Fridays after work, I am so tempted to flake out on the couch in front of Netflix. Relaxing, sure. Sometimes I do, only to wake up to Saturday mballet-111705_640orning chores still holding onto the emotional residue of the week. Dancing, on the other hand, releases accumulated stress, and the grip of poignant client stories. Whatever humor I may arrive in is soon influenced by the music. The upbeat bounce of Swing, the sweet lilt of Waltz, the flirtatious rhythm of Latin, or the poignant melody of Argentine Tango. Each in its own way sweeps me into a more positive frame of mind.

2. Dance is expressive. After just a few turns of the dance floor, I feel lighter, more myself.

3. Dance is just the right amount of social. I sit with people all week, actively listening and problem solving. As much as I look forward to seeing friends outside of work, sometimes the last thing I want to do is sit and talk some more, especially at a loud, crowded pub or a restaurant. Not for lack of caring, but because I am depleted. The empathy meter is low, capacity for concentration and conversation diminished. Dancing recharges my emotional batteries.

4. Dance is connecting. I cherish the friends and acquaintances I have met through social dance. Happy people of all ages and from different walks of life who I might never cross paths with in my regular day to day. Yet we share a common passion.

5. Dance gets me out of my head. From focus on thinking and problem solving, to being fully in my body. And it fosters authentic non-verbal communication.
Continue reading




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Do You Help People Heal From Traumatic Events? Part 3

Posted by: Lisa Shouldice on June 11, 2015 2:26 pm

Creating Safety to Process Trauma Using Sandtray

Welcome to Part 3 of my Sandtray blogs! Part 1 introduced Sandtray Therapy (http://www.ccpa-accp.ca/blog/?p=4171) and Part 2 explained how to set up the first Sandtray session with a client (http://www.ccpa-accp.ca/blog/?p=4240). Sandtray is often used in therapy to facilitate healing traumatic events and related intense feelings. I truly feel it can be used for many issues and concerns clients present with and it is even great for couple counselling!

So while Sandtray can be used to process trauma, there are many other techniques and approaches used to this purpose as well. So one of the ways I use Sandtray is to create safety before I begin facilitating the processing of intense traumatic memories, even if Sandtray is not used again in session with that client.

I do this by first discussing this with a client at least one session before they complete the tray, so they know what to expect. When the session comes to complete the tray, I facilitate it in a slightly different way than usual, slightly more directive. For example:

“We are using this tray to create feelings of safety and self-care within your spirit before we begin talking about the difficult memories you have alluded to.   So I would like you to create a tray that creates feelings of safety, love and self-care today. This is a feeling you will be able to access while we get into talking about some horrible experiences you have had. There is no right or wrong. You are creating a world in which you are in full control and it can be anything you want it to be. So please choose your figures thinking about safety etc…”

shell-313219_640
Continue reading




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA