Accentuate the positive is an ongoing creative writing project initiated as a response to patients facing challenging issues relating to self-worth as a result of living with a life threatening illness. Patients are offered a quiet private space for one-to-one discussion with the creative therapist in which to explore and identify their thoughts and feelings regarding, spirituality, the impact of their illness on communication, relationships and notions of ‘self’. Common themes arising in these discussions centre around the erosion of autonomy, the changes in personal roles and family dynamics, anger and frustration over the loss of independence and the increase in dependency on others. The role of the creative therapist is to listen and support the patient expressing issues and emotions, and can, with the agreement of the patient, engage the wider multi-professional team with any clinical concerns that may arise during the session. Patients are then invited to identify and connect with positive attributes, acknowledge existing abilities, and affirm strengths and ways of coping. This can sometimes be a difficult process for patients experiencing low mood and anxiety. In these circumstances, the creative therapist may offer observations and reflections that help to establish and list positives on behalf of the patient to get the ball rolling. With a list of positives identified, the patient and the creative therapist may then work together to create a piece of writing celebrating and affirming; what the patient can still do for themselves, their attributes and abilities, important relationships, and what they hold dear. Patients are then encouraged to consider sharing the work produced with fellow patients and families. Patient feedback on the project has been very positive and that the experience has been a valuable opportunity in promoting good communication, and an increase in feelings of self-worth and self-esteem through creative expression.
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