Art Therapy | Pedagogy

Reconstructing life narratives through creativity in social work

DOI: 10.1080/23311886.2019.1606974

There is growing recognition of the benefits of creative experiences and activities in social and health care. This article focuses on social services clients’ experiences of creativity and arts in their lives. Ten social services clients were interviewed about their experiences in relation to creativity or creative activities. These interviews were analysed by employing the existential-phenomenological approach. As a key finding of this research, we present a conceptualisation of how creativity enhances the reconstruction of the life narrative. The findings reveal four key aspects of how creativity is perceived and experienced as part of life, what kinds of meanings these experiences carry and what their significance is in people’s lives. These are: (1) constructing coherence, (2) fostering feelings of significance and purpose, (3) constructing meaningfulness and (4) creativity in everyday life and as a spiritual dimension. We argue that creativity is essential for (re)constructing life narratives. This process subsequently enhances agency and well-being. These results deepen our understanding of the intertwined nature of meaningful life experiences and creativity. Furthermore, the results indicate that creative activities could be utilised more in social work, aiming to support people in a vulnerable position.