By Jordan Ferranto, LCPC, ATR
Therapy is about curiosity and paying attention. Really, that’s it. Of course, there are endless ways in which these core concepts are expressed or complicated based on the lived experience and the needs of the client. And of course this all takes place within the context of the relationship between client and therapist, which can be established in a number of ways. But in its essence, according to this therapist, therapy can best be summarized by those two foundational processes. So what do I mean by curiosity and paying attention? Glad you asked, because I made a venn diagram about it:
Paying Attention is about being present and aware. This is about assessment. This honors where we are. Curiosity is about asking “why” and warming up to possibility. This pushes us to move and build. Many times we access both of these pillars of therapy through asking questions. Questions about paying attention sound something like, “what was that like?” and “what did you notice?” Questions about curiosity sounds something like, “what would happen if…” and “where did you learn that?”
The beauty of the Creative Arts Therapies is that we can ask these questions through movement, visual art, music, writing, etc. Most creative practices involve the same processes of curiosity and paying attention inherently. When an artist paints a still life, they are paying attention to their perceived reality. Many times artists are experimenting with materials, form, or process, which is rooted in curiosity. These shared dimensions result in a seamless union between creativity and therapy.
In what ways do you already practice being curious and paying attention? It’s likely you have already engaged in many of the applications of therapy. The benefit of doing this with a therapist is that you’ve got someone who will add accountability, empathy, intention, relationship, perspective, and expertise. And those ingredients, when added to what you already do, can be unstoppable.