Claire Griffy is a psychotherapist practicing in Austin, Texas. She works with women, couples, and creative professionals. Her specialties include pregnancy and postpartum issues as well as trauma recovery.

Claire views therapy as a creative collaboration between science and the art of relationship. She is passionate about working with the unique stage of pregnancy and believes it calls for special attention to women’s emotional and mental health. It is her belief that the pregnancy journey can be used for personal growth, exploration, and a deeper connection to life.

The way I have come to know pregnancy as an incubator for creativity is from the effect it has had on me as a clinician. Working with clients within their pregnancy landscape has enlivened the way I work and shifted my clinical interests.

At first, when I began witnessing a number of my clients swim to creative and transformative depths during their pregnancy, I attributed it to the type of people they were. Naturally tuned into the aesthetics of the world around them, involved in creative projects, and inclined toward introspection. Yet, the more women I saw in pregnancy, those with diverse backgrounds and interests, the more I realized this heightened creativity was always present.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ description of creativity in her book, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of The Wild Woman Archetype, perfectly captures how I experience it within therapeutic work,

“Creativity emanates from something that rises, rolls, surges, and spills into us rather than from something that just stands there hoping that we might, however circuitously, find our way to it. If it finds no inlet in us, it backs up, gathers energy, and rams forward again until it breaks through.”

I often see the same woman in pre-pregnancy and pregnancy. When this happens, it feels as though everything before pregnancy existed in a brainstorming phase, while pregnancy is now catapulting us into the “work.”

The immediate experience of pregnancy, whether it shows up as a container for suffering or joy, allows for direct access to a client’s inner canvas. It brings women up close and personal with their inner wisdom, imagination, sensations, resources, and their dance with life, change, loss, and uncertainty. It is with access to these that we begin to paint.

nicola canavan
Art by Nicola Canavan – Ph by Dawn Felicia Knox

An example that may help contextualize this concept is working with a woman’s relationship with her body. There is a range of how this may show up. It may be an issue of poor body image or low self-worth. For women with a history of trauma, especially sexual abuse, this can show up as one’s desire to stay disconnected from their body, which has become a vortex of shame in their experience.

For women who broke up with their bodies years ago due to trauma, we may touch this, we may talk about it, we may spend months poking and prodding for an entry access point. But when her baby kicks inside her belly, demanding that she be brought back to her body, the work begins.

For those who live in a constant state of war with their inner critic, I can point out their strengths every session for years. Have them repeat affirmations to themselves every day. But again, pregnancy becomes a powerful agent. It pulls her to a realization of what her body is capable of. There is no way to manufacture the moment a woman finds out her body innately knows how to care for life. And finally, we see a new relationship to self begin budding.
Clients experience heightened creativity differently. Women report their dreams being extremely vivid, wanting to record the process of their birth in a creative medium, a pull toward writing and storytelling, and revisiting memories that hold new meaning and experiences through the lens of pregnancy.
But the common theme is similar: It gives us, the therapist and client, direct access to emotions, ideas, and experiences that previously we had only been able to talk about.
Given this was such a common experience in my practice, it was important for me to find out how frequently discussed it was. I was relieved to come across ProCreate Project after sifting through endless articles and blogs dedicated to “getting your post-baby body back” and breastfeeding. Do not get me wrong. These are all important topics. But these topics do not always allow room to marvel at and harness the gifts of pregnancy.

It is important to point out that pregnancy being a time of heightened creativity does not necessarily translate to a magically wonderful experience.
A number of my clients struggle during pregnancy: with anxiety, physical discomfort, grief, and depression. While pregnancy is an incredibly unique experience for each person, I believe this creative force remains. A force that invites us to inhabit a place that feels real and intensely present, while not always joyous.

My mission as a therapist is to reignite an awe and respect for the process, in all forms it shows up as.
Creativity bubbles up like a force that one must reckon with. A desire to put something on paper, attach an experience to colors or melodies so it can more accurately match the way it lives inside us. We absolutely have an opportunity to embrace the creativity pregnancy gifts us with to reach new depths of personal growth.


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Claire Website