The Beige Era of Psychotherapy

Whatever Happened to Creativity?

Rich Simon

Creativity series-smOnce upon a time, psychotherapy was a field filled with charismatic and taboo-breaking innovators, whose live and taped sessions were a form of thrilling performance art that made traditional approaches seem slow and stuffy enough to bore both clients and therapists to death. A few decades ago, when young therapists like myself watched Salvador Minuchin, Virginia Satir, Carl Whitaker, or other leading lights, it was like watching magicians—you didn’t know whether they were going to pull rabbits, iguanas, or some other strange, unexpected creatures out of the therapy hat. We watched as the clients they worked with changed before our eyes, becoming more alive, more open, and more unexpectedly inventive in resolving their own problems. Who knew therapy could be so colorful, so exciting, and even so much fun?

But that was then, and this is now. These days it often appears as if we’ve entered what you might call the Beige Era of Therapeutic Practice. Today's treatment is more and more shaped by predetermined DSM categories and empirically validated, standardized treatment protocols from which deviation isn’t welcomed, if even tolerated. Part of the reason is, of course, that old bugaboo—the power wielded by insurance companies, who eye any treatment approach or idea that strays off the reservation with deep suspicion or outright rejection. But another part of the problem is that we live in cautious times with heightened concerns about HIPAA guidelines and confidentiality, making it much harder to actually see therapists at work who inspire us to push the boundaries of the familiar and show how to engage clients with a spirit of daring and invention.

What we hope to do in our upcoming new webcast series, Creativity in the Consulting Room: New Tools for More Energizing and Effective Therapy, is give you a taste of creativity, the real McCoy, by watching the work of "old masters" like Erv Polster, Peggy Papp, Virginia Satir, and Milton Erickson—while also exposing you to younger innovators—like Stephen Gilligan, Courtney Armstrong, Jeffrey Zeig, and Steve Andreas—who dramatically show us that there’s still plenty of creative life in the field.

Here’s your chance to increase your ability to use humor, metaphors, fantasy, theater arts, poetry, and other sources of creativity in your work to bring more spontaneity, curiosity, and excitement into your sessions. So, please join us—you have nothing to lose but the chains of habit and inertia!

Creativity in the Consulting Room
New Tools for More Energizing and Effective Therapy
Save $19 When You Sign Up Before January 30!

Topic: Professional Development

Tags: clinical creativity | creative therapy | creativity in counseling | DSM | hipaa

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Sunday, February 2, 2014 11:59:08 AM | posted by Hanna McDonough
I was blessed to have attended Minuchin,Viginia Satir. Milton, Adolphi, and others of that absolutely mesmerizing authenticity. The magic is that they related immediately to your most profound self, the one in hiding and they bullied, teased, played it out into the open. The clients were exploding into themselves right in front if your eyes. Never been to better movies, I'm bringing back with clients signing that the therapy they are attending may surprise, amaze at times freak them out but we could perhaps evaluate its efficacity from the distance and perspective of their recovery. I only feel enlivened when in these modes: CBT? Formulaic therapies? No fun.
Love your article.
Give us more of those whenever you want, thank you ,
Hanna McDonough

Monday, January 27, 2014 7:49:02 PM | posted by Psychotherapy Networker
You get 6 CEs with this course, and each session is about an hour long.

Sunday, January 26, 2014 6:25:32 PM | posted by Christa Mackinnon
I have written a book for therapists and psychologists entitled "shamanism and spirituality in therapetuic practice", which addresses similar issues, namely the increasing limitations of contemporary therapy. I find it interesting that the word 'psyche', meaning soul and spirit, has completely disappeared from the contemporary psychotherapeutic, being replaced by mind. The same applies to the original meaning of the word healing (hal), namely whole. We are now treating symptoms. At least here in the UK we are almost 'forced' to use CBT, focus on symptom alleviation only and work according to DSM criteria if therapy is funded via the National Health Service. If people can afford private treatment, they can choose from a wide specturm, but that is a minority. I eprsonally find this development quite sad, but, as you said, there are exceptions and lately there are more discussions around this issue.

Sunday, January 26, 2014 5:00:21 PM | posted by Lynn Johnson
Looks good, not clear how many hours of CEs we get for $199. Clarification? 7 hours? How long is each session?

Three of your people are old friends, and I strongly recommend them: Steve, Steve, and Jeff. While I'm not close to the others, they all look intoxicating, and I hope your readers jump on board.

Sunday, January 26, 2014 4:34:32 PM | posted by Michaelene Ruhl
Family Constellations are also another creative modality to use in therapy. I trained for three years in an Immersion Program through Jamy & Peter Faust and The Constellation Approach as well as did my dissertation research on the clients' experiences of this modality. It is a rich, sacred and effective approach to get to the heart of the matter through the family history using representatives for family members - a 3-D representation if you will. It also gets to heart of the matter quicker in most instances than using just talk therapy. It is based in family systems theories, transpersonal psychotherapy, consciousness, and energy healing theories. It is something that changed my life in many ways and at many levels as well as my clients', co-trainees, participants in my research, and many others. Thank you for this article because there is so much more out there to use as tools in the therapy room. After all, we are all different as are our wounding experiences. No sense trying to put everyone into a box. We have a responsibility as therapists to explore what will work for each client as well as ourselves. Thank you for the space to write.