Creating creativity …

5 July, 2022

Providing clinical supervision to a colleague the other day, I noticed a rich stream of thoughts occurring to me. Ideas were easily finding their words of expression, connections between concepts were lighting up at a glance. It was a generative experience, a creative endeavour, emergence was emerging. I smiled inwardly to myself because isn’t that abundant place lovely to visit? And of course I’m also familiar with its ‘evil twin’ too. Who hasn’t had spells dwelling in that other place where things don’t add up, we’re going over old ground, it’s dry and we’re stuck?

Noticing myself appreciating what was happening for me, I turned my attention back to my colleague. What was it about her, about our shared conversations that was bringing about this generative experience for me? Thinking more about it, I noted that this had happened quite a number of times within our supervision sessions lately. It wasn’t a one off. Also, this experience of having a glut of generative meetings with a person or a group of people had also happened before. These clusters came and went like phases of the moon, though with less predictability, sadly.

Driving home after the supervision, my mind could gently digest my day. A phrase that sprang to mind was ‘creating creativity’. Perhaps there is something worthwhile in exploring the phenomenon that sometimes a person somehow embodies at that moment characteristics that give rise to another’s creativity. Or perhaps it is more relational; perhaps sometimes there is a process between people in which their shared space becomes a creative place for them both. Perhaps the characteristics or conditions that give rise to creativity happen between us in relationships and effect all concerned. These characteristics and conditions can also go beyond being embodied by a person of course, they can be ‘embodied’ in a community, a culture, a place, a practice.

MyST is an innovative service. Innovative in terms of being different to many others and a less established or ‘traditional’ approach, yes. But also innovative in terms of needing to innovate daily in how we address the complex difficulties that we endeavour to address. This daily type of innovation is an ongoing process of creativity. Given the necessity of this approach in our work, then it follows that we are naturally curious about the conditions which support creativity of thinking and action in our work. In many ways, we have for a long time had a good handle on this. It’s really not rocket science to work out, though it can be tricky to operationalise and to maintain through thick and thin. It is perhaps in this ‘doing it and keeping on doing it’ where a ‘rocket science’ level of capability is called for.

So, what do we think we know about the conditions which foster creativity in our work?

Well, it starts with having high motivation to do an excellent job and this is achieved through living our values very closely and quickly spotting any straying from these. Amongst these is a high commitment to the rights and the capabilities of all children and families to lead fulfilling lives. With this securely in our hearts and minds, the quest to work in ways to bring it about, to real-ise this potential is strong. Next, it is training and guidance in the psychological models which help people to understand the presenting difficulties and strengths, and to be skilled in that which is most likely to move change in a positive direction. Then, it is being adequately resourced to use the psychological knowledge and skills, driven by the motivation to bring about positive changes. There are quite a few resources needed for the job and some of the most important include teamwork, high autonomy, psychological safety to try and fail, a diversity of views, reflective practice, clinical supervision, boundaries, energy, breaks, rests, stepping back for a change of perspective and energy.

So perhaps we have an equation for successful creative practice with children and families with complex needs might be expressed as:

High motivation + skills and abilities + resources = creative practice = innovation and persistence = positive change = fulfilling lives.

That’s the kind of ‘rocket science’ we’re very interested in, and very committed to embodying at MyST. Maybe that way, practitioners can create contexts in which the people, the practices and the places can all create creativity with one another together.

Jen & Jael

A Gwent Partnership Board Service