Practicing Outside The Box: Growing Tomatoes In Psychotherapy
Stuck in a therapeutic rut? Find inspiration from other therapist’s creative strategies and get outside the box!
As therapists, especially those of us who have been practicing for a few years, it’s easy to get into a rut and become less creative than we were as eager, bright-eyed interns. Feeling the need to be more creative in the therapy hour inspired me to reach out to other therapists for ideas and inspiration and start this series about practicing outside of the box.
Because I managed to kill every plant I have ever owned (I have a “black thumb”) and because I have always fantasized about living in New York City, I was intrigued by psychotherapist Janet Zinn, LCSW’s use of “outside the box” strategies to help her clients. Janet found that incorporating nature in the form of a garden in the middle of a New York City practice was a welcome and healing environment for her clients.
Here is what Janet said about her work with a female client:
I had a client who was diagnosed with a serious borderline personality disease. She had been hospitalized on a number of occasions. She loved gardening, and we planted a tomato plant that she watered, cut back and cultivated twice a week. When the tomatoes grew in she had a sense of accomplishment. As someone who was always told that she was bad, here was something she could feel good about.
We used the tomato plant as a metaphor for her own process in life. How could she treat herself in a kind and cultivating way? What would nourish her soul? The tomato plant calmed her. She felt less reactive when working with the tomato plant. In the winter, we would use the tomato plant as a metaphor of patience and the seasons became a lesson on the process of growth and change.
Have you found a creative niche, a unique office space, use non-traditional interventions, or have something that sets you apart from other private practice clinicians? I want to hear about it! Email me with “outside the box” in the subject line.
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to KSL TV's Studio 5, and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Facebook & Twitter. Her books The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide are now available.