Creative Arts in Counseling | Creativity in Counseling

Counseling is one mental health profession that has a growing interest in using drawing, photography, and other art forms such as music, play, drama and dance/movement to enhance counseling interventions with individuals, groups and families. Many art therapists in the US, for example, are now licensed as professional or mental health counselors or in California, as marriage and family therapists. In 2004, "creativity in counseling" was formalized within the American Counseling Association (ACA) as its 19th Division, the Association for Creativity in Counseling (ACC). But before that, creative approaches to treatment have had a long history within the fields of psychology, psychotherapy, psychiatry and counseling, including the work of Natalie Rogers, daughter of person-centered and humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers. Natalie Rogers integrated her father's person-centered and humanistic principles with expressive arts therapies. Other powerful advocates include Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, Virginia Satir, Bunny Duhl, and Peggy Papp, all of whom in some way saw counseling as a creative endeavor. Many counselors have embraced these approaches because they reflect the field's collective beliefs in human potential, diverse communication, and authentic self-expression.


Creative counselors often incorporate visual and other art forms into their work with clients of all ages. They might have a client listen to specific song lyrics, use yoga as a body intervention, employ role play, animal assisted therapy or other experientially based techniques There are ardent enthusiasts in the field of professional and mental health counseling who have spent many years studying creative arts therapies and play therapy approaches for adaptation to counseling. Sam Gladding, noted for his contributions to creative arts in counseling and creative counseling, says "Creativity and the creative arts are an integral part of counseling worldwide." He cites what he calls "little c creativity" and how it can be used in counseling by counselors and clients along with the steps in the creative process, and phases people go through in becoming creative. For more information, look at Gladding's SCAMPER model as a way of helping counselors assist clients and themselves in becoming more creative.