We had the opportunity for Louise to come and talk to HACP about metaphors and creative play within a counselling setting

Louise was vibrant and easy to listen to and she gave us the opportunity to explore the options of creative interventions by clean language and metaphors so that clients can process their own way of expressing their own story and use imagination to emerge creatively Her business background of coaching and counsellor expertise gives her an imaginative edge that leads itself to be curious and engaging with the opportunity to think outside the box with creative play and imagination.  That can help the client’s story to come alive with the use of  sand tray or feelings cards for potential growth and exploration

This gave the audience the opportunity to share their thoughts about what creativity means to them and share those concepts – this opened up the floor for us to process how this can make us feel and be in a very different space. Play can be very powerful and bring up unexpected thoughts and feelings.

One exercise was The Blob Tree – picking where you are on the Blob Tree and how you feel about that.  This can be very revealing.

With creativity it’s a journey.  It can feel uncomfortable  but then after a while it can be very therapeutic and offer a deep dive into the client’s story.

Louise gave an example of how she personally was able to get into the process with clay-work and then let herself enjoy this despite initial resistance to clay.

Creativity can challenge the part of our brain that feels it’s playful but not allowed to play

We may as therapists buy creative tools but never use them due to lack of confidence or know-how.  Louise was willing to share her expertise on how they could be used, how to choose the right creative tools that will be suitable and not things that might be fearful for the client (Clowns and Velcro for example)

Metaphor is about creating a creative story that can be interpreted  by others in many different ways.  The therapist can stay with the client’s metaphor and enter the client’s world in that way.  The therapist needs to be curious

What is creativity?

A non verbal method of Expression through  feelings, beliefs, and  values etc, including  poetic, musical and linguistic approaches.

Natalie Rogers,  Carl Roger’s daughter wrote about play therapy in this way:

‘Not a tools but a mystery that you are entering into. It’s unknown the outcome being in the moment.’

Does creativity fit with all modalities?

Examples – Free association – dreams – yes creativity can be used in other modalities so that our clients are able to express themselves in a different way, to engage and build the alliance.

Working with neuro-divergent clients , the use of  metaphor and curiosity through play can help develop non verbal understanding.

Neurodiversity –  sharing a shape or colour can be hugely beneficial for the client. This is another way to engage and not interpret but allow the client to develop their own language.

Giving young people the opportunity to play and be expressive without interruption. The inner child can play and test without judgement or challenge.


When using creativity, remember to check out with client how they feel about working in this way. Being non directive – client pace and client choices without interpretation.

Safety – possible risk with assessment – grounding techniques – training with this work – have enough time for the work

Bear in mind – not all might like this kind work – be prepared to come away from the work if overwhelmed – and not introducing things at the end of a session

Be aware of your client’s body language, responses and physical state for any changes. This can be deep work for the client.

Breath work could be helpful at the beginning or pausing to change the state of the energy


Constellations – goals to achieve. How will you get there? What steps do you need to take to achieve the goals?

Cards can be chosen to represent feelings at the beginning of a course and how they feel after what they have achieved by the end of a course.

Anger game – helps young people to create their own game and to rate and explore the anger they feel in their lives.  This includes Green talk and Red talk. (see the slides)

Lastly, there was a fairy tale exercise. Think of a fairytale and freeze frame it and see what you notice.  This was a powerful exercise as fairytales have a celebratory aspect, but also a sinister side. It was really interesting to see what came up from the fairytale we chose and  how it took some of us back to childhood.

How quick it was to connect to this exercise and what came from this; childhood trauma can occur and the ability to come from adult to child deeply. As as a therapist we can notice the body language and support clients.

Big thank you to Louise

Lottie Passell-Syms