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Creativity in Counselling

Throughout Kirsty's training and subsequent professional career she has made use of creative approaches to therapy. Working creatively is an additional way of expressing feelings and experiences, by 'showing' how it feels to be you through paints or colouring pens, through clay or plasticine, or through using a variety of art materials to create pieces which enable self expression and a deeper understanding of self. These resources are used for Adults, Children and Young People and although it can feel difficult initially, particularly as an adult, the benefits of using creativity in therapy can be enormous. Once engaged in a task, the process can draw from unconscious material, memories and feelings which are not easily accessed consciously. This approach to therapy can give rise to some surprising discoveries, insights and awareness of available life choices, it is therefore well worth having a go at the different options available. 

Some find the idea of approaching therapy creatively quite daunting and this is an understandable response. What many clients initially experience is the fear of 'not being a good enough' or of 'being judged'. However, once past this initial discomfort, the use of creativity can be a freeing experience. Kirsty also works extensively with traditional talking styles of therapy and there is no pressure to work creatively, the choice yours. Equally, if you are particulaly interested in making use of creative techniques in your therapy then please feel free to ask. Often counsellors in training who have to complete a specified number of hours receiving their own personal therapy benefit enormously from a creative approach. Therefore creativity is as useful for clients who wish to overcome significant distress in their lives, as for professionals attending to their own continued professional development. 


The use of a sand tray as a pschotherapeutic tool in counselling, particularly with children, dates back to the early 1900's when H.G Wells noticed his two young boys playing on the floor with miniature toys and making sense of their world around them through their play. He went on to write a book called 'Floor Games' (1911) being a series of essays about his observations. His ideas were then picked up by a child pschologist called Margaret Lowenfeld who went on to bring miniatures together with sand calling this process the 'World Technique', with subsequent development of her early ideas this style of work became recognised as sandtray therapy. This original work by Margeret Lowenfeld was further developed by Dora Kallf into another approach to working therapeutically with sand known as sandplay therapy. This is a different discipline altogether which is underpinned by Jungian analytical theory, although the two approaches are often confused and the terms used interchangeably. Kirsty's use of a sand tray in counselling Adults, Children and Young People is more closely reminiscent of the original concept developed by Lowenfeld. The process enables clients to symbollically 'tell their story' and to visually represent their feelings, experiences, fears, hopes and dreams enabling a deeper level of shared understanding between the therapist and the client. There are organisations supporting the use of sandtray and sandplay all over the world, therefore working with sand in therapy has become well known and appreciated as beneficial to all age groups from the very young to the more mature.

As with other creative strategies, there is no requirement to engage in working with sand, although you will see the sand tray and a large collection of miniature items in Kirsty's counselling room. The tray has a blue base to represent water and blue sides to represent the sky. Initially the sand is moulded and shaped, then the client will add carefully selected items to the tray. The finished scene is then explored between therapist and client. The client's own interpretation of their sand tray scene is central, although the therapist will help fascilliate exploration of the client's work, it is the client that decides what each object and the placement of them means. Clients are often surprised how much they get out of using a sand tray in counselling, it is a very powerful approach. The initial phase of beginning to move the sand around can be quite challenging when you do this for the first time however, it is thoroughly worth overcoming this and experiencing the freedom to explore your difficulties in a three dimensional format. It enables both client and therapist to join together in a much deeper understanding, for the client to 'show' how their experience feels and for them to move items around and thus contemplate change within the safe container of the sand tray. This approach is far more than a box of sand, it is a powerful addition to the therapeutic process which empowers, brings unconscious material into awareness and enables clients to discover future opportunities for change. 

If you feel you would like to know more then please telephone, text or email with your enquiry (contact), Kirsty understands that everyone’s story is unique and she will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.