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Psychology of Creativity

Working with the Life of the Imagination

A six-hour course with Jonathan Young and Anne Bach

Course Description

This is an archived course that is not offered at this time. The description will be updated if presented in the future.

This is a day on the relationship between the unconscious and the creative process. Presentations draw on timeless stories, such as Alice in Wonderland and Robin Hood, to look at issues faced by highly inventive people. We will consider the significance of motivations in understanding problems in artistic careers. We will give special attention to blocks and other challenges unique to creative endeavors.

This course would be useful for clinicians working with professional writers, visual artists, performers, and others whose work demands high levels of originality. It would also be of interest to those in such fields who have an interest in an archetypal understanding of the creative process.

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize ways that psychological life is revealed in creative endeavors.

  • Analyze creative projects in archetypal and mythic terms.

  • Assess how artistic expression might effect social relationships.

This seminar is taught at the introductory level and requires no advance preparation. However, participants are provided with a recommended reading list as part of their class materials.

CE Credit information

The material is presented at an introductory level, requiring no background in mythic studies, narrative theory, or Jungian psychology.

The following CE credits are available:

  • Psychology, MFT, LCSW, NBCC : 6 CE hours

  • Nursing : 7 hours

Most teachers must get credits approved by their school administration. Center courses meet the requirements in most states. Contact us if you need more information about receiving credit in your state.

How to Register

  1. Select a seminar location from the Current Seminar Dates and Locations

  2. Register online or call the Center


Jonathan Young, PhD is a psychologist (PSY10231) who consults with organizational leaders and creative artists, especially filmmakers. As a professor, he created and chaired the doctoral level department of mythological studies at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara. His books and articles focus on personal mythology. His background includes assisting mythologist Joseph Campbell at seminars and serving as founding curator of the Joseph Campbell Archives and Library.

Anne Bach, M.S., MFT 38891 is a specialist in uses of writing in psychotherapy. She gives presentations on creativity as inner work at major conferences, and lectures widely on psychological dimensions of expressive writing. Her clinical background includes poetry therapy with seriously mentally ill patients.

Other presentations on Mythic Stories

Dr. Young also gives frequent media interviews, public talks, workshops, and in-service trainings throughout the U.S. and internationally.

Dulac, Stars

Fairies looking through a Gothic arch

Day Schedule

Checking-in begins at 9:30 a.m. - Seminar 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

9:30 Check-in begins.

10:00 - Underlying Patterns in Creative Expression

- Personal expression as self-discovery.

11:15 - Break (approximate time)

11:30 - Unconscious Dynamics in the Mythic Imagination

12:30 - Lunch Break

- On your own, please return on time

1:30 - Deepening the Creative Work

2:30 - Break (approximate time)

2:40 - Key issues in sustained productivity

3:50 - Break (approximate time)

4:00 - Therapist as Mentor to Expressive Projects

- Facilitating vision, perspective, and focus

- Grandiosity, dissociation, and other cautionary considerations

5:00 - Course concludes - Be sure to sign out

Selections from the Reading List

Clinical Applications

Bruner, Jerome (1986) Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, Cambridge, MA: Harvard

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1997) Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life. New York: HarperCollins

Ealy, C. Diane (1995) The Woman’s Book of Creativity, New York: Words Publishing

Kubie, Lawrence S. (1958) Neurotic Distortion of the Creative Process, New York: Noonday Press

Larsen, Stephen (1990) The Mythic Imagination: The Quest for Meaning through Personal Mythology. Manchester, VT: Inner Traditions International

Leonard, Linda S. (2000) The Call to Create: Celebrating Acts of Imagination. New York: Harmony Books

Lockhart, Russell A. (1983) Words As Eggs: Psyche in Language and Clinic. Putnam, CT: Spring Publications

Maisel, Eric (1992) A Life in the Arts, New York: Tarcher/Putnam

Maslow, Abraham H. (1983) The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, New York: Penguin

May, Rollo (1975) The Courage to Create, New York: W.W. Norton

Moustakas, Clark (1967) >Creativity and Conformity, Princeton: D. Van Nostrand

Creativity -- Writing

Cameron, Julia (1998) The Right to Write, New York: Tarcher/Putnam

DeSalvo, Louise (1999) Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives. New York: HarperSanFrancisco

Dillard, Anne (1989) The Writing Life, New York: HarperPerennial

>Check for used copies

DiTiberio, John K. and Jensen, George H. (1995) Writing & Personality: Finding Your Voice, Your Style, Your Way. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black

Fox, John (1995) Finding What You Didn’t Lose, New York: Tarcher/Putnam

Goldberg, Natalie (1986) Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, Boston: Shambhala

Goldberg, Natalie (1990) Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life, New York: Bantam

Keen, Sam and Valley-Fox, Anne (1973) Your Mythic Journey: Finding Meaning in Your Life through Writing and Storytelling. New York: Tarcher/Putnam

Lamott, Anne (1994) Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, New York: Doubleday

Metzger, Deena (1992) Writing for Your Life: A Guide and Companion to the Inner Worlds. New York: HarperSanFrancisco

Vogler, Christopher (1998) The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese Productions

Creativity -- Visual Arts

Bachelard, Gaston (1958) The Poetics of Space, Boston: Beacon

Berger, John (1972) Ways of Seeing, New York: Penguin

Broughton, James (1977) Seeing the LightSan Francisco: City Lights

Cameron, Julia (1992) The Artist’s Way - A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, N.Y.: Putnam

Edwards, Betty (1993) Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, New York: HarperCollins

Creativity -- Organizational Psychology Applications

De Bono, Edward (1970) Lateral Thinking - Creativity Step by Step, New York: Perennial

De Bono, Edward (1992) Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas, New York: Harper Business

De Bono, Edward (1994) Parallel Thinking New York: Penguin

Osborn, Alex F. (1957) Applied Imagination, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons

Osborn, Alex F. (1991) Schaumburg, IL: Motorola University Press

Whyte, David (1994) The Heart Aroused, New York: Doubleday