Author: Maame Blue
Summary: Ex-psychotherapist and author Maame Blue reflects on the impact that creative writing had on her practice, and how psychotherapy has influenced her as a writer today.
I began my training as a psychotherapist at age 23. I was following a path that at the time, felt like a calling. Five years later in 2014, I was taking a break from the work. And although almost ten years have passed since then, and I am unlikely to return to it, I still look back on that time fondly. It made me the writer I am today. I have a deeper understanding of people, of the shapes we make depending on who we interact with, and of the people we become based on our choices and the choices of those around us. Most of all, I have learnt how to put that down on the page, to make fiction out of fact and simultaneously make sense of the world as it spins, often nonsensically, around us.
What it takes to practise
I don’t have to tell any of you currently practising therapy, what it means to sit in a room with another person and hold space for their fears, hopes and experiences of pain. You already know what a big undertaking it is; how much it means, and how much it takes.
When I was practising, writing was a creative escape, but it also became a translator for my deeper feelings, especially as a young trainee psychotherapist still trying to grasp clinical concepts and marry them with how it feels sitting in the room with a person who needs your support.
Writing up sessions and keeping personal reflection notes went some way to make sense of it all, but the jump to fiction had a different, far greater impact for me.
And I should say, I have always written, no matter what job I was doing – whether psychotherapy, project management or working as a bank cashier during my undergrad years. Writing is in my DNA, which is partly why I hung up my psychotherapy hat, and definitely why I am a full time writer and creative writing teacher today; I never stopped writing and in the end, I didn’t want to.
Creative writing as clarity
But whilst practising, I realised that the little nuances and levels of humanity I was engaging with on a weekly basis were finding their way into my stories. They helped me navigate the murky waters of my own emotions and those of my clients so that I could come to their sessions with a clearer mind and framework, and be less afraid to be emotionally creative with them in turn.
It is the same place my debut novel Bad Love was born from, and where the creation of my upcoming workshop on Crafting Complex Characters (29 April) began. It is a way to make something new from the one-to-one intimate space that therapists and counsellors occupy, and to channel those engagements into creative writing; into stories that refresh and reinvigorate the therapeutic practice, and the therapist themselves.
At least, that’s what it used to do and still does, for me.
Maame Blue: Ex-psychotherapist & Author