One of the most rewarding experiences of practising as a counsellor is the opportunity to work creatively with clients to help them shift perspectives, unlock unseen doors, or realize untapped potential. Viewed in this way, therapy is much like an artistic endeavour, one that is co-created by client and counsellor and whose final product is an ever-evolving magnum opus that is lived out in real time.
The artistic analogy is particularly resonant within Psychosynthesis due in large part to the many creative methods we employ to engage the unconscious and surface buried or hidden truths. What I appreciate most about this approach is the levity and playfulness that can enter the counselling room, proving that therapy need not be a heavy, dour, miserable experience. My clients often comment on the unexpected humour they found in their life circumstances whilst working this way, and this helped them to gain further insight and develop new and different ways of living and being.
Beyond its analogous value, I believe art is intrinsically valuable to the human existence and therefore capable of making a profound impact on the therapeutic process. The writer Henry James said, “It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance ... and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.” These are strong words, but there is truth in his assertion that art is not just about ornaments or things, but it is about force and beauty creating life, meaning and change. Encouraging an interest in art – however it is defined – is central to ensuring a life well-lived.