Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Creativity Enhancement

Originally posted on July 26, 2017

Action Explorations are really just using psychodramatic methods and related approaches as tools for enhancing creativity, in business, community-building, education, even developing spirituality. Applied beyond the context of psychotherapy, though, I prefer using the term “action explorations.” In other fields, creativity itself  is being recognized as a valuable dynamic in producing ever more useful innovations. If you think about it, part of what therapy does is to enhance creativity. However, this re-framing expands beyond the context of treatment of those in the sick role.

We’re starting with what psychodrama psychotherapy teaches us. The medical model acted as a sociological womb, protecting the new application. And this not only applies to psychodrama, but also includes drama therapy and the other creative arts therapies. The real point is that we apply these methods as “creativity enhancement” also in businesses, schools, families, churches, recreational contexts, and so forth.

Creativity enhancement is a new descriptive phrase for using methods to do this, such as psychodrama, but applying them beyond the context of psychotherapy. Better, I prefer the term,  “action explorations” as a term for trans-therapy uses of psychodramatic methods.

Many patients in therapy are too tied up with their symptoms to make many breakthroughs, compared to those whose ignorance is conflict-free. Using a new term, creativity enhancement, releases many associations. Creativity is what is being promoted in this present (21st) century. Those who were creative might have been suppressed or ignored in centuries past. So let’s shift the terminology from applied improvisation or psychodrama to “creativity enhancement.”

What is being done is to systematically open the mind, apply it to creative challenges. Don’t assume that “answers” will be immediately forthcoming; sometimes solutions “come out of left field,” so to speak.


Moreno used the term, psychodrama, which reflects his choice of working within the medical model.  Now that the medical model has retreated into what can be experimentally verified, with some emphasis on biological science, the term has grown obsolete, semantically. Plus, there have been many knock-offs and distortions over the years. So I have begun to use “action explora-tions” as an equivalent term, and recently thought of also calling these techniques “creativity enhancements.” What used to be called psychodramatic technques in fact invite our minds to think afresh and from new perspectives.

Another ambiguity is the context where the methods are to be applied. Moreno allied himself with the medical model, as I said, especially when psychoanalysis was dominant. Of course Moreno wanted to contrast his own approach with Freuds, and did so—but compared to biological, psychopharmacological approaches, both pscyhodrama and psychoanalytic work with the mind and the social field—“soft” forms of knowledge.

It turns out that both these fields really work best when the subjects are not overly handicapped by co-morbidity. That is a condition where there are more than one form of psychopathology. The problem is that they reinforce each other, so that the difficulty in treating people with two or more psychopathological condition rises as the square of the number of condition. Three co-morbid conditions are nine times more difficult to treat, because each type feeds off of and reinforces the cognitive distortions of the others! (This is an estimate. I don’t know how I would prove it.) Also, people in groups with a subtle suggestion or expectation that groups can be creative tend to participate in ways that are indeed creative (Sawyer, 2017).

Transcending the Context of Therapy

Freudian psychoanalysis and psychodrama both aim at catalyzing another level of awareness in the mind. Both got channeled into the context of psychotherapy, although in fact both work better with healthier people. If the goal shifts away from therapy and instead to catalyzing creativity, it all becomes more obvious. To say it again, the difficulty in treatment rises with the square of psychopathology.

Self-awareness is best cultivated in people who are not unduly burdened by more than slight degrees of “neurosis.” If the goal shifts from treatment and alleviation if not cure to releasing the clients’ creative potential, this becomes clearer.

The problem is that psychodrama (and the other forms of therapy) really should be recognized as operating also—and even more so!—in the realm of healthy creativity. Re-visioning problems differently is part of what psychodrama offers. What I’m suggesting, not to put too fine a point on it, is a separation of psychodrama-action-explorations used for non-psychotherapeutic contexts—creativity enhancement—from psychodrama applied as therapy.

I don’t object to psychodrama psychotherapy—in fact I wrote a book and many chapters on it! It’s just that I’m opening more fully to the way Morenian methods may be applied quite beyond the context of psychotherapy. I suspect that these new applications are far more powerful and effective.

Applying action explorations for creativity enhancement involves far less orthodoxy, less need to prove effectiveness in treating a wide range of illness, and less of a fight for justification. A shift of basic model leads to a huge shift in results.

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