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Chapter Three: Exploring Creativity in Context

Wilson, Jim Karnac Books ePub

Exploring creativity in context

There is a story told by the late John Weakland, from the Brief Therapy Centre (Fisch et al., 1982; Watzlawick et al., 1974), who was inspired by a client's distinction between a difficulty and a problem in life. According to Weakland, the client defined the distinction thus: “A difficulty is just one damn thing after another…A problem is the same damn thing time and time again!”

When we are caught up in repetitive and unproductive processes in our work, it is easy to see how we can become disillusioned and resigned to follow the increasing demands on our energy and willingness to continue to do a good job. This chapter invites your exploration of what can, and does, provide us with inspiration by looking at dimensions of practice that open possibilities for continued development and inspiration. This is a way of setting aside some time to reflect on what matters to us as practitioners. It is a breathing space. It is also a chance to consider your unique ways of developing your creativity, yet avoiding the illusion of thinking that one's creativity comes only from within, as if by magic. A systemic humanising perspective places creativity as a psychosocial process, aided or restricted by our living relations with others, and our historical precedents.

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Chapter One: Systemic Humanism and the Ethics of Practice

Wilson, Jim Karnac Books ePub

Systemic humanism and the ethics of practice

The term systemic humanism was coined by me to combine key concepts from systemic family therapy with inspiration drawn from the work of Paulo Freire to shape practice more distinctly as a process of humanisation (Wilson, 2015). “Radical humanism” within systemic practice struck me as a necessary emphasis to counteract dehumanising traits that thwart both practitioner and client in the search for creative possibilities to enrich practice.

Systemic humanism emphasises that a practice be both cognisant of, and actively involved in, opposing oppressive practice. It is rooted in ways of enabling our clients and ourselves to become more active, powerful, and creative within the helping process. It explores ways that practitioners, from whichever profession, can remain curious, creative, and alive to possibilities. This involves a consideration of the values that we enact in the jobs we try to do. Practical applications of systemic practice are enriched by reference to Freire's concept of radical humanism in his philosophy of education, which I have found invaluable in my work as a family therapist.

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Chapter Seven: How do we Keep on Keeping on?

Wilson, Jim Karnac Books ePub

In my career to date, I have worked in local authority social work, the voluntary sector, independent private service provision, and in the National Health Service. Therefore, I have had the opportunity to see from the inside of organisations and their functioning from the perspective of a practitioner as well as from the outside, as visiting consultant trainer, or supervisor. These various positions provide different possibilities to contribute, to challenge, and/or feel the power to comply with, the status quo. As a consultant or visiting lecturer, I can try to contribute from the sidelines, so to speak, as adviser, educator, facilitator, and so on, and to encourage exploratory conversations about matters of ethical importance and creativity. These special settings promote reflection and an opportunity to stand back from the daily pressures and demands of practice.

As a practitioner within an organisation, I am an employee and, therefore, bound by contractual agreement that includes paying me a salary. The organisation calls the tune. I am placed in a relationship to others in my immediate work context who influence, and are influenced by, me. These ongoing social relations in the immediate workplace inform how we conduct our affairs and are shaped by perceived power relations and hierarchical arrangements. I can speak up if I am a consultant more easily than as a practitioner on a short-term contract. If I disagree with an idea a colleague has, I cannot simply walk away as one might do as a visiting trainer. We are caught in the mix of ongoing social relations in a more professionally intimate way. As a visiting lecturer or consultant, I still walk away at the end of the day. So, when we discuss what keeps us going and striving to improve our creativity in practice, my views always need tempering with what is possible in any given context.

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Chapter Six: Forces that Push us from Behind

Wilson, Jim Karnac Books ePub

The morning begins with coffee and a chat with some of my colleagues, who are already seated at their computers by 8.15 a.m. A new habit of entering the exact time of arrival and departure has emerged in recent weeks, and a new form of “presentism” has appeared. There is a joke about who gets the prize for being first at their desk each morning. Behind the humour is a feeling of being scrutinised. To “wake up and smell the coffee” has never had such relevance. The temptation is to go straight into the email correspondence, and attend to a never-ending stream of requirements in the “must dos” of administration.

This sets the scene for an increasing number of dedicated practitioners in social care and mental health. The forces that push us from behind is a metaphor for the pressures created by distal processes that have an influence on how we think and function in our jobs and, more generally, in our lives. Fromm sees our awareness of such forces as the first step in altering our circumstances. It is a belief

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Epilogue: The Journey Home

Wilson, Jim Karnac Books ePub

From the top of Shooters Hill I can see the Shard shafting the sky above London. It has been a good day. Most of the families and young people turned up for their appointments. My notes are more or less up to date. I am tired but I have been totally absorbed in the work of the last nine hours. The bus arrives and I sit beside a young colleague who has a two-hour commute home.

“Busy day…as usual?” I enquire.

She nods enthusiastically.

I am glad to be part of a profession that has such committed, good-hearted people in its midst. We talk about the latest goal-setting regulation shortly to be introduced. I sigh, “More of the same.”

She says, “Yeah, that's the way it goes. How is the book coming along?”

“Oh, not bad”, I say. “Thought I might start with a journey into work…”

Later, I am listening on my iPod to John Martyn singing,

May you never lay your head down without a hand to hold.

May you never make your bed out in the cold…

We all need companions…

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