By Julie Wales, Family & Special Needs Counsellor 
Do you really know what counselling can involve and how it can be tailored to you, I wonder? Is counselling something you thought was cringe-worthy or intimidating? Some of the people I have worked with in the past initially felt unsure about trying counselling. 
BUT once we worked together they found it to be helpful and changed their view on what counselling really is and it enhanced their whole outlook on their life and relationships. Creative therapy techniques can be highly effective in engaging individuals, couples and families in therapy and facilitating communication, understanding, and problem-solving. I never push these techniques but allow the clients to take the lead in their own sessions. 
Here are some creative therapy techniques I can use for individuals, couples and families according to your lead and your wishes: 

1. Art Therapy 

Encourage couples or family members to express their thoughts and feelings through art. Provide them with art supplies such as paints, clay, markers, or collage materials. Ask them to create individual pieces or collaborate on a joint project that represents their relationship or family dynamics. Afterward, discuss the artwork together to explore underlying emotions and meanings. You don’t need to be an accomplished artist. I am most definitely not! We can use this technique if you find talking therapy difficult. 

2. Genogram 

Create a genogram, which is a visual representation of family relationships across multiple generations. This can help identify patterns, conflicts, and strengths within the family system. Use symbols and lines to depict family members, relationships, and significant events. Analyse the genogram together to gain insight into family dynamics and intergenerational influences. 

3. Speaking & Listening Coaching 

Practicing speaking and listening in the session with me allows couples or family members to step into each other's shoes and gain empathy and understanding. I offer a script to follow, and each person takes turn being the speaker and the listener. Every time I use this the couples leave with a better understanding of how they communicate and are then able to go away and practice. I encourage them to express themselves authentically and listen actively to each other's perspectives. Afterwards, we often chat about how they found it and explore their individual insights and potential solutions. 

4. Narrative Therapy 

Using storytelling as a therapeutic tool to explore individual and family narratives, helps couples or family members to share their stories, focusing on key themes, turning points, and strengths. Encourage them to reframe negative narratives into more empowering ones and envision preferred outcomes. Facilitate a collaborative process of co-authoring new stories that reflect their values and aspirations. Often we have picked up negative messages from our early childhood or teen years and once we are aware of this we can live according to our own values not someone else’s. 

5. Sand Tray Therapy 

Children and teens particularly love the sand tray to express themselves. I set up a tray filled with sand and a collection of miniature figures and objects representing various aspects of life. Invite the child/teen or family members to create scenes in the sand that symbolize their relationships, emotions, and experiences. Encourage them to manipulate the sand and objects freely without judgment. Afterwards, explore the symbolism and meanings behind their creations. 

6. Family Roles Cards 

Using these cards with the person in the room can position themselves and their respective family members under various roles played out in their family in the past or now. This can be helpful to raise awareness of your family roles, dynamics and interactions. Encourage them to explore various positions and perspectives. Facilitate a discussion about the experience and insights gained from the exercise. 

7. Special Interests 

I like to incorporate the person’s interests into therapy sessions to facilitate emotional expression, communication, and connection. I can encourage teenagers to create playlists that reflect their feelings and experiences. Listening to the music together and discussing the emotions it evokes enhances the teens awareness of themselves. Using songwriting as creative outlets for self-expression and reflection helps to reduce anxiety in the room with me. Some clients who are autistic also enjoy telling me about their special interests and it builds a strong therapeutic relationship. 

8. Phototherapy 

I sometimes ask clients to bring in photographs to stimulate discussions and reflections on family experiences, relationships, and memories. Ask couples or family members to bring in meaningful photos or take new ones together. Explore the stories behind the photos, focusing on moments of joy, challenge, and growth. Use photo collages or albums to document and celebrate their journey as a couple or family. 

9. Family Therapy Game 

This is a bit like playing Monopoly and winning ‘free’ (paper) money for the questions you answer around the board. Even better fun with a rewards wheel you can add your rewards for the winner! This helps build family relationships and enhance your communication and problem solving in a fun and comfortable way. 
These creative therapy techniques can complement traditional talk therapy approaches and provide couples and families with new ways to explore, express, and navigate their relationships. Contact Julie now to book in a session. 
Call Julie Wales: 07412651894 
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