Pluralistic Practitioners Network: Creativity and Storytelling Gathering
Roddie McKenzie PhD, PG Dip. Counselling
Our October 2020 gathering was the second Zoom meeting of this group and the first to have an agreed theme: creative writing. At that meeting we decided to adopt the term ‘gathering’ rather than ‘meeting’: partly to indicate that we aim to have an informal structure to the gatherings, and partly because we try to make them a fun experience in which formality is dispensed with and we try to be open to learning from each other.
There are currently eight of us but we invite further members who share our goal of exploring the use of art and creative approaches within pluralistic therapy. We are a mixed group in terms of both creative experience and practices and in the amounts and range of clinical experience that we have. We are made up of counsellors who use music, story telling, visual arts, and painting as therapeutic approaches. Some of us are visual artists, some are writers; and while some of us have been counselling for many years, some of us are still completing our counselling training. But we are not hierarchical and the goal is to broaden our experience of creative approaches by learning from each other as to what other modalities can be used.
In our first gathering we attempted to define the range of material that we might consider and began by looking at storytelling as a person-centred activity and the role of word choice as a means of inducing therapeutic change—as used in narrative therapy. It became apparent from members’ contributions that, perhaps, we needed to expand the remit of therapeutic activities beyond just the use of storytelling. As a piece of homework, we all undertook to write a letter from our present selves to our younger selves.
In our second meeting, that exercise was found to have been an illuminating exercise and some stories were shared. We then discussed the pros and cons of having clients explore stories in therapy. The point was made that there could be inherent dangers of having a client produce written material as homework, as this could potentially lead to traumatisation. Therefore, the caveats of the exercise should be explained to clients, advising them to stop if they felt distressed. At the same time, exploring the emotions that were aroused, in therapy, could produce some breakthroughs. Journaling was discussed as an approach, and examples were shared of personal experiences when journaling and image production by painting were combined with collage-like use of random text to produce meaning. This seemed to have elements in common with the Rorschach Test. Letters to other parts of the self were also explore and found to be a powerful tool to delineate and resolve difficulties. Role play, with the therapist playing an antagonist in the client’s life, and the use of rituals as a way to achieve closure, were also recounted. It became clear that creative approaches offered a powerful, if underused, tool in the pluralist tool box.
The Creativity and Storytelling Gathering of the Pluralistic Practice Network meet at 10 am on the last Saturday of each month. The next gathering will be an opportunity for members to explore the use of visual images in therapy.
For information about joining or corresponding with the group please contact firstname.lastname@example.org