Tag Archives: creative arts

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


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

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

Tribute to Creative Art Practitioners Around the World

Posted by: Priya Senroy on May 1, 2015 8:47 am

I am very optimistic that I will soon see a plethora of greenery outside my window even though Spring has been illusive in my garden. The buds, the birds and the weeds are finally getting out of their hibernation and my energy is getting renewed as I am planning my next steps in my work.

This month has been catastrophic in many parts of the worlds, especially in Nepal and it has resonated deeply as it’s a place that I have visited many times and when the tremors were felt as far as in India, it struck more as that’s where home is.

A part of me wants to jump on the next flight and join many organizations including Art therapy Without Borders to be part of the humanitarian work and use my skills for a cause which is beyond words for many.

I have done work with some PTSD but not directly been involved as other practitioners have during the deadly hurricanes, tsunamis or like the recent earthquake. When we talk about using creative arts or even counselling in such a broad spectrum, it’s important I think to remember the ways art can be used when words are not enough. It can be used as a compliment to assessment, to recovery, to healing. This is the time when creative arts can be transcultural, transformative and transnational, something that is advocated by Art Therapy Without Borders. Since I started practicing as a creative arts therapist in 1995, I have always been amazed by the flexibility, the adaptability, the ability to connect and the diversity of this field. Not only is the cultural and diverse fabric of the field is enriched by those who practice it , it’s the client group, it’s the techniques and it’s the materials which are constantly changing and adding to this melting pot of creativity.

This blog is a salute, a tribute and a standing ovation to the field, to the practitioners and to the world out there who believe in the power of creative art.


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

Colours of the Rainbow Are the Same, Everywhere

Posted by: Priya Senroy on July 24, 2014 3:37 pm

June and July have been vibrant months in the city of Toronto, colors are not only showcased by the nature but is found regularly on the streets- World Pride was one of them. This summer has also been colorful for a LGBTQ group that I sometimes facilitate workshops for. The group is mixed in ages, sexual orientation , ethnicity and cultural upbringing. There were many differences, many similarities and the diversity was overflowing. They all had one thing in common- they wanted to use the summer months as a way to symbolize the process of coming out-some of them are already out, some of them can never ever while some are contemplating. Whatever their stages of ‘coming out ‘are, the group shared a sense of struggling with their identity.

So delving in suing creative arts, the group explored some creative art therapy interventions which they could relate to , especially the ones who were struggling with identity. I have used these activities with clients with disabilities, clients with gender abuse etc.

The activity “Inside Me, Outside Me” is one example, in which the client creates two self-portraits—one of the publicly presented self, the other of the private, internal, self. For the clients in the early phases of coming out, these may be two very different portraits. The idea of creating self-portraits has been used by many clients in art therapy as a means for externalizing feelings and qualities of the self that are too delicate to expose verbally This activity may use a variety of media or take different forms, such as a mask or box (using the inside as well as the outside). These portraits were used as a gateway for discussion and reflection. Another activity involves puppet making, in which the created puppet “speaks” for the client. When the process stopped, there were sighs of relief and a sense of letting go, which some felt were equivalent to coming out in a safe and non threatening environment. Taking a step forward, the group felt that their personal journeys that they had explored during the workshops could be showcased or just simply shared with other groups. So role plays, movement and embodiment were used to create plays which the group are working on for informal and private sharing in the future.




BY: Priya Senroy

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

Recharging My Creative Firework

Posted by: Priya Senroy on October 9, 2012 1:55 pm

As a creative arts therapist and a mother of two toddlers, I am always looking for inspiration and ideas not only for personal growth or as a parent, but also inject some fresh ideas into my work. As a constant endeavor in this thirst for freshness, I visit the art space, exhibitions, websites and even flea markets because you never know where creativity is lurking…..So during my visit to New York one  summer, I came across a café which literally blew up my creative fireworks and I can still feel its effects.  This brilliant idea of mixing food and art and craft and creativity where children were allowed to unleash not only their apple juice but their creative juices was inspiring for me as a parent who is constantly trying not to let society stifle their creativity. It was called the Moomah Creative Arts Café. When I revisited this year to recharge my fireworks I found that it had closed down (much too my dismay and I think I was truly heartbroken) BUT I found that it had reopened at another part of the city in  a new avatar and also resurfaced on the web as a “do it”  journal. Yes, I am sad that the birth place of my creative firework no longer exits but I have not given up feeling like all the vibrant colors, the sparkles and the inspiration that I am getting from the website and I use it not only with my children or my clients but also to keep my inner child alive which I think is so important as a creative arts therapist.  I know there are similar cafés around, but for some reason I do not feel any fireworks happening when I visit them; it’s not the same feeling as moomah….So here is the website http://www.moomah.com/

So if you decide to visit the Big Apple any time, please try to visit moomah and I hope that you get as inspired  and recharged as I was and still am!

Priya Senroy , MA CCC

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

Healing Through Creative Arts!

Posted by: Priya Senroy on August 21, 2012 10:04 am

In my journey to find about how creative arts can be used in different cultural contexts, I came an article which has fascinated me and caused a paradigm shift in my perception of looking at Creative Arts Therapy as Western Concept.

This report describes the results of a study by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) ,Canadain the use of creative arts in healing programs. Since many cultural activities are

arts-based,  this article addresses some questions that  arose around the use of creative arts in healing programs; in particular,

• How often are creative arts incorporated into healing programs?
• What are the associated benefits and challenges?

The formal research question guiding this study was,

• What happens when art, music, dance, storytelling, and other creative arts become a part of community-based Aboriginal healing programs?

Very interesting read!!!!


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

Creative Arts in Africa

Posted by: Priya Senroy on June 15, 2012 10:00 am

As the summer months are being welcomed in the Northern Hemisphere, People in the Southern Hemisphere are getting ready for winter. To celebrate this change in season, this month’s blog features work from the continent of Africa where some exciting pioneering and ground breaking work is taking place.

I think as creative arts therapists, we can never find a place in this world, where we cannot make our profession have an impact on those who need it.

Please take time to visit these sites.




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

New Year Greetings to My Fellow Counsellors

Posted by: Priya Senroy on December 22, 2011 2:37 pm

I hope 2011 was rewarding and challenging for many of you as it was for me!!!! 

So as I reflect back  on 2011 and look forward  to 2012 at the same time, I have decided that I would like to bring in a piece of the world every month to this blog space!!!! 

So what does that exactly mean??? 

Continue reading

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

Hello Readers!

Posted by: Priya Senroy on July 8, 2011 1:24 pm

In this July blog, I continue to share with you some amazing work happening in other parts of the world in the field of using creative arts as a counselling process.

This video illustrates how classes in acrobatics may be combined with group counselling concerning setting and obtaining goals in life within the realms of
social work. It provides guidelines for those in charge of acrobatics and counselling classes.

The facilitators recommended that if this combination methodology is meant to be used with a specific group of participants over a number of classes in acrobatics ideally over a period of at least a few months, involving at least 10 classes organized at regular intervals. Classes in acrobatics will help build confidence and self-esteem of participants. The counseling methodology is designed to capitalize on learning points classes in acrobatics provide concerning how to set and obtain goals in life.

Again this is for facilitators who are skilled in the language of acrobatics and for others who may want to get inspired to combine an art form that they are experts in with counselling.


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