Creativity inevitably taking risks, breaking boundaries, pushing limits, and inventing new ideas. If you feel secure with rules and with getting the right answer, this experience will probably initially feel frustrating. While it is not always an easy experience, art therapy is worth pursuing because it can be the beginning of personal change, growth, and integration. It can lead t insight, self-awareness, and transformation. True creativity is playful, spontaneous, and imaginative. It frees you to make your own rules and, in the process of doing so, often breaks down previously held assumptions.
Mixed-media and collages exemplify a key characteristic of the creative process that is strongly connected to emotional and health: divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is an experience of moving beyond perceived limits; synthesizing and integrating unrelated elements, ideas, and perceptions. Immersing yourself in the creative process of art therapy is, a hands-on experience that encourages you to think divergently and to try out new perspectives and ways of thinking in order to enhance and nurture your emotional health.
Before you try the art therapy exercises, it is helpful to explore your personal definition of creativity; how do you define creativity? Do you consider yourself a creative person? If you do not, why not? Can you recall an instance in which you were particularly creative? Is there something particular that inspires your creativity? Are you more creative when you are happy, or does some other emotion drive your creativity? Do you feel more creative working alone or in a group? Is there a creative activity you want to pursue but have been postponing? What is it? What is stopping you from doing it?
Creativity flourishes where there are no judgements, preconceptions, or biases. It is OK to tear the paper, to destroy and rearrange your images and to create your own unique way of working with materials. Humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers observed that creativity is closely associated with one‘s openness to experience. To be creative, we must put aside preconceived notions and take in new information and situations. In other words, the ability to tolerate ambiguity and contradictory information is key to the creative process.
Selected references: The Art Therapy Sourcebook by Cathy Malchiodi, 2007