Embracing the Unknown Through Creative Engagement

I absolutely love this painting my niece painted for me. It is such a beautiful and thoughtful Christmas gift and am honoured to be adding my niece’s painting to my career development practitioner toolkit.

The colours are stunning, and the conversations that can be woven from it, drawing all of the senses are endless. A very proud aunt of my amazing niece, who remembered a conversation we had about how I use arts, metaphors and a creative engagement approach to supporting clients, and thought I might be able to use this with clients – answer is 100% absolutely yes!!

I’ve already been thinking of different ways it can help dig deeper with clients to gain self-clarity, visioning, goal setting and assist their decision-making process.

Metaphors of journeys, unknown paths, transitions (the colours of the leaves are perfect for this). The tracks representing people travelling similar paths but not the same… so many career and life conversations can be had (all pillars of life interweave) 

Reflecting on my niece’s painting and metaphors of journey’s and travelling unknown paths, had me thinking of this recent photo I took leading to an unknown beach, I had never visited before. I love how you can see many sets of footprints, yet although people have walked alongside others, they’ve also walked their own paths into the unknown.

As a qualified professional Career Development Practitioner, my approach is one that incorporates a creative engagement approach, embedded into contemporary evidence-based career theories such as ‘Hope Action Theory’, ‘Planned Happenstance Theory’ plus others, to support clients in their career exploration and decision making.

Some Thoughts for Career Development Practitioners Regarding Hope Action Theory

  • Self-reflection is key, especially these days when things are so busy & we often don’t take time in an intentional way. (Spencer Niles, 2021)
  • Self-Clarity is akin to building your house on the sand. It can collapse easily if you don’t have ‘Self-Clarity’ before you build your house. Building material include:
    • Skills
    • Interests
    • Personality Types
    • Values
    • Education & where it is taking you (Spencer Niles, 2021)
  • Visioning ties in with imagination, & the need to stretch imagination. For a lot of people, as they lose hope, their imagination gets constricted, & it is harder for themselves to imagine themselves going forward, “what are they going to do etc” (Norm Amundson, 2021)
  • Having people be able to vision – helping them to see there is something in front of them / something they can do, is critical to support successful lifelong career development.
  • The work of a Career Development Practitioner is helping people to deal with a crisis of imagination. This falls under vision competency of ‘Hope Action Theory. Helping the client to develop a vision for the future, so that they aren’t walking along blindly, opens up to brainstorming / possibility thinking
  • ‘Hope Action Theory’ works on possibility thinking using strengths-based interventions as opposed to probability thinking i.e., what is the likelihood of succeeding or failing.
    • When we switch to possibility thinking, you engage a person in
      • What are they excited about?
      • What do they imagine themselves doing? (Spencer Niles, 2021)
  • Visioning opens up the door to thinking about possibilities, but also what happens if you stay with the status quo.
  • “Goal setting incorporates decision-making. In order to set goals, you have to make decisions & frame goals that are attainable. From there you move to planning” (Norm Amundson, 2021) – how often is this step / competency undertaken as part of career development / transition programs before self-reflection, self-clarity, vision competencies?

Some Strategies Useful for Creative Engagement

  • Whole-brain decision making
  • Miracle question / scaling questions
  • Stepping stones
  • Career journal / poetry / art work
  • Scenario thinking
  • Auditory / guided imagery
  • Draw / collage – future (vision board)
  • Liminality
  • My life as a book
  • Self-referential statement
  • Walking the problem (strengths-based focus)
  • Card sorts
  • Metaphors
    • “Expanding your metaphor” -can provide insight into emotions, and how people are conceptualising the situationVantage points – different points in time, past, present, futureReframing
    • Benefits of metaphors:
      • Non-threatening, therefore can reduce resistance
      • A way to express empathy & build the relationship
      • Creates engaging & memorable (sticky) interactions
      • Serves to refine perspective
      • A way to externalise problems
      • Evokes emotional & physical responses / not only intellectual
      • Brings into play the preconscious & unconscious
      • Builds creativity through use of multiple response

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