Creative Therapeutic Technique:
Skills for the Art of Bringing Forth Change
By Hillary Keeney and Bradford Keeney
June 1 / 232 pages / Paperbound / Illustrated / ISBN 978-1934442456 /$27.95 / ePub / Mobi
Performance. This is where it starts. The Keeney’s heretical perspective holds that professionals can fill up on theory — indeed, on many theories — at the expense of developing the performance skills that are the foundation of effective therapy. They argue that creative performance technique, rather than theory, is primary. Thus this new book is appropriate for any practitioner no matter what school of therapy they belong to.
The authors begin by envisioning every session as a three-act structure with a beginning, middle and end. This helps therapists maintain a focus on movement and change, like a compass that allows practitioners to keep track of the plot line and direction of every session. Exercises help readers make these ideas their own.
In Chapter Two, “Short-Circuiting Vicious Circles,” the focus is on creative ways to interrupt the pathological discourse that maintains impoverished experience in clients’ lives, while “Feeding Virtuous Circles” considers the creation of more generative, resource-rich experiences. This section ends with “Designing Prescriptive Action for Change,” thus rounding out the discussion of the basic tools necessary to implement a well-formed therapeutic performance.
The midsection of the book presents opportunities to initiate and maintain consistent presence inside creative, transformative interactions in every session. “Always Utilize and Improvise” leads the way by describing, and inviting the reader to practice, ways to create openings for new movement. “Absurdity Lubricates the Wheels of Change” introduces exercises to help awaken difference and inspiration. “The Changing Therapist” encourages the therapist to include and expand his or her role as an instrument of change.
In the case studies in Chapters Eight, Nine, and Ten, the authors demonstrate ways in which they have helped practitioners to uncover their own unique resources and to develop mastery of creative and effective expression. The final chapter, “Bringing Life to Clinical Training,” gathers together thoughts on the importance of performance-based skills and one’s own wisdom-based learning as the linchpins of an alive therapeutic environment.
Hillary Keeney and Brad Keeney bring to their work a rare combination of intellectual depth and jump-off-the-page enthusiasm. Creative Therapeutic Technique is a practical guide that knocks the familiar staid therapeutic stance on its ear, suggesting instead an approach that allows therapists to always be ready and able to meet clients where they are — and then uncover fresh and vital ways to get them where they long to be.
“A book you can’t put down! I don’t know how to adequately convey that the Keeneys are true to the work of Milton H. Erickson. This is improvisation and utilization at its best, delivering solidly based effective therapeutic work. With exercises and all sorts of informative teaching, they show us how to do it. Best of all, the book fulfills a remarkable paradox: you will hate to finish this well-written, entertaining, and practice-changing book, but will hardly wait to finish so that you can use what’s been learned.”
—Betty Alice Erickson, M.S., LMFT
Private Practice, Dallas, TX
“If you are looking for new inspiration to enliven your clinical practice, this is the book to read. The Keeneys are masters of invention. Turning conventional thinking and practices on their head, they encourage therapists to leap over the bonds of the rational and enter the realm of the theatrical and metaphorical. They create a new therapeutic context with first, second and third acts. Guidelines are included that lay out specific ways for therapists to give free rein to their own imagination and develop their unique creativity. The book is filled with many clinical surprises. There are startling examples of transformative experiences in which silver linings are found within the darkest situations, seeds of hope are implanted in barren landscapes and nightmares are turned into dreams. It was a pleasure to read and I highly recommend it.”
—Peggy Papp, LCSW
internationally renowned therapist;
senior faculty member, founder and director of the
Project for Adolescents and Their Families,
Ackerman Institute for the Family, New York City
“If you try to get nothing from this book, happily, you will fail: It is a page-packed monument to unscripted change! You won’t put it down once you begin as it teaches how to amplify experiential resources rather than focus on either problems or solutions. The book’s creative voice alone will inspire therapists to pull the weeds out of any garden-variety approach and let flowers of change blossom and grow for both them and their clients. Enjoy.”
—Stephen Lankton, MSW, LCSW, DAHB
Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis;
Faculty Associate, Arizona State University, School of Social Work;
Member, Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners;
Secretary, Arizona Social Work Credentialing Committee
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