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Harnessing a patient’s creative capacity

Imagining the creative self and how this can be harnessed.
Rowing a boat
© University of York/HYMS

Being under constant pressure in our everyday practice, it can be easy to overlook one of the most important resources that we have to manage complex health problems – the creative capacity of our patients.

Omar has a lifetime experience of managing the ‘work of daily living’- the ups and downs of everyday life. The image below helps us to consider the resources that Omar has to manage these everyday tasks – the resources of his creative self.

Imagining our creative self

Figure 1: Imagining our creative self (adapted from Dowrick1)

Omar is now experiencing illness, a problem that is disrupting his flow of daily life and creating extra work for him to do. His illness can’t easily be fixed by a medical practitioner. In this situation, one of our roles as generalist practitioners is to help Omar recognise the extra work he is doing to power himself and and the impact this is having on his health. We also have a role in helping Omar to restore his balance and stability, to improve his health and wellbeing.

So in order to harness Omar’s creative self, the flipped consultation needs to explore and understand the daily work Omar does, the context in which he does it and the resources that help him (internal and external). In addition, we need to determine the things that matter most to him, to provide stability and aid his flow through daily life.

The clinician’s creative self is equally important. In order to facilitate collaborative patient involvement in discussions about their health, we need to reflect on the resources that maintain our own stability and power us through the flow through daily life.

In the coming steps, we’ll discuss how we could apply the flipped consultation to help Omar with his swallowing problem, whilst harnessing his creative capacity.


  1. Dowrick C. Person-centred Primary Care. Searching for the Self. England: Routledge; 2019.
© University of York/HYMS
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