Creativity doesn’t only relate to the fine and performing arts. It’s about negotiating all areas of life, making the most of the push-pull and day-to-day ins and outs. It can be tricky, even treacherous. Sometimes we need counseling to help us through.
What pushes us hardest to seek talk therapy is often related to crisis situations, like navigating the choppy waters of a stormy relationship or making peace with a challenging childhood, or managing grief after the death of a loved one. But those are a just a few reasons.
Therapy can also be useful for unblocking creativity, says Tracy Durkin, LCSW, of Tinton Falls, NJ. One way to celebrate International Creativity Month in January is to explore the various routes to self-expression to figure out why you may be blocked in the first place.
Durkin devised a workshop, “Clear, Calm, Confident: The Core of Happiness,” to help women do just that. One of the explanations for how a creative blockage is built is the existence of mental stress, which can be a combination of the usual components of daily life---things like finances, family, health, scheduling, time constraints, presidential campaigns and world affairs, to name a few.
“We tend to be in a state of perpetual preparedness, a little like vigilant soldiers in combat,” Durkin says. “But this hyper-alert state, as much as it helps and tries to protect us, also depletes our energy, focus, creativity, and resiliency.”
It’s easy to see how creativity can be blocked by stress.
“A brain in gear isn’t going to be the most fluid and flexible, generating new ideas and exploring new possibilities,” she reasons. “Instead, in its readiness to fight or flee from its next assault, the brain actually has to stay focused on the threat, focused on the danger, focused on survival. This tight, tense, defensive posture is taxing and exhausting to the mind, body, and spirit.”
If accessing our most inspired creativity is the mission at hand, destressing is the first order of business. WebMD offers ways to manage and relieve stress. Number one on the list is writing. It’s an interesting notion that blocked creativity, if you’re a writer, for instance, requires the thing surrounding your blockage. It’s important to recognize the writing is not what’s blocked, just your creativity, or your creative thought process. In that case, it can be helpful to try another form of writing to unblock.
For instance, a novelist may want to try his or her hand at poetry.
For Nancy Bryan, an adjunct English faculty at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ, poetry is her favorite form of expression as it has become a tool for managing the more difficult aspects of her life, such as divorce and empty-nest syndrome. As a serious writer, she offers workshops to other serious writers who are open to “kind, constructive feedback, close reading of literature, and exercises to expand and discover new ways of writing.” Her January workshop falls under the Narrative Medicine umbrella, which she says, “can help in nurturing the self, developing a mindfulness practice, and finding connection through our shared stories.”
Poetry has been gaining popularity, specifically in the medical world. The word is being spread by people like John Fox, a poetry therapist and lecturer, who teaches in the California Poets in the Schools Program. One of his books, Finding What You Didn't Lose, encourages getting in touch with your poetic voice and its ability to heal. He teaches about metaphor, image, sound and rhythm while leading the reader into the inner psyche.
Bryan, who holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing, and is hard at work on a book of her own poetry, says, “Writing allows us to share, and discover the universal in our stories, so we don’t have to experience ‘it’ alone. Themes might include parenting, loss/death, illness, birth and love.”