submitted by Tobias Cabral, Psy.D.
On the short list of things I ask my clients when they start seeing me for therapy is whether they do anything creative. Do they write? Sing? Play an instrument? Paint? Create modules for video games?
It might seem an odd question for a psychologist to ask, but it really does make a difference. There’s nothing quite like a creative activity to provide insights into one’s underlying thoughts and feelings. Clients have often reported to me that, in the process of creating something, they stumble across a recurring theme which echoes what we are working on in therapy. In this sense, it is kind of like a waking dream that reveals the issues and conflicts that have been operating behind the scenes, and in turn, can suggest possible paths toward solutions. As if the value of self-knowledge weren’t enough in itself, though, we also have entered an era in which it has become easier than ever for people to put their creations out there for others to appreciate, thanks to the many tools available through the Internet.
You can start a blog (for example at www.blogger.com, or www.wordpress.com), where you can post your writings, pictures, music, or whatever. You can post videos of your performances on YouTube (which can be edited and produced in very polished, professional-looking form, using free or inexpensive software). Authors can even self-publish their stories, books, poems, etc. for reading devices like Amazon’s Kindle (https://kdp.amazon.com), or Barnes & Noble’s Nook (http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/), as well as for the free apps that can be installed on computers, tablets, and smartphones even if people don’t actually own a Kindle or a Nook.
I speak from personal experience when I say that the process is relatively straightforward, since I’ve published a short science fiction novel (“Night Music”) on the Kindle platform. It probably won’t make you rich (trust me!), but it can be a real self-esteem booster to see your book go live on the Amazon or B&N site! And you just might learn something about yourself along the way.