When I reflect on the BACP Private Practice Conference in September, and the conference theme ‘When Words are Not Enough: using creative approaches in therapy’, my immediate thought is that the therapeutic process is a creative act in itself.

Each therapeutic encounter offers the potential for something new to emerge. This results from an act of co-creation, with the unique inter-relationship between therapist and client providing the catalytic converter.

Given that we work with what is unconscious (by definition as yet unknown) as much as, if not more than, with what is conscious - it’s clear the term talking therapy is a misnomer. We never use just the language of speech when we converse with clients. We’re always tuning in to the language of the body, of feelings, and of what we might call spirit or soul. It's that sense we can all tap into that connects us to a sense of something greater than our individual selves.

When I think then of the manualised protocols that prevail in statutory mental health provision, I fear something crucial may risk getting lost as we reduce therapy to a series of scripted interventions that terminate with outcome measurements. That’s not to say that interventions of this sort do not have validity, but this should not be at the expense of providing space for something unexpected to happen in the therapy room.

Or at the cost of the therapist being free to meet the client where they’re at or being able to listen carefully to what they want, and need from us, and relating to them as a fellow-explorer rather than expert.

In this issue of Private Practice we include contributions from all the presenters who participated in the Conference. In our lead article, Jane Davis considers  how literature might assist therapeutic practice. And among others, you can also read Helen Odell-Miller on musical communication and psychological thinking in music therapy, find out how Natasha Page uses cards to help clients identify the themes they wish to work on, or see how Pauline Andrew helps clients explore their inner depths with nesting dolls.

Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.