Welcome to the website of Toby Chown, a digital hub for the work of Toby Chown, author, dramatherapist and imaginal ecologist. Here you will find information about my work as dramatherapist, and as an imaginal ecologist, singer and poet.
What links my work and approach as a writer, imaginal ecologist and dramatherapist is “poesis” – a sense of the centrality of the creative process to understanding ourselves and the world around us
My trade is as a dramatherapist and a writer, a poet. To me these actitivities are linked. What links them is the practice of what the ancient Greeks called poesis. Poesis means to create something new out of the old. It could be a pot from clay, a piece of art, or words that become a poem. Or it could be a new story about oneself, a new sense of purpose and identity, a new sense of – these too can form part of a creative process.
Poetry and therapy engage the creative -we take the raw materials of an experience or a story and re-shape it into something new.
This is a natural process, that we can find mirrored in nature. Our lives have a certain shape that they want to grow into. However, there are many ways that the direction and purpose of our life can get stunted, repressed, or our ability to flourish diminished.
Truama and addiction can damage our ability to relate, to ourselves to those we love and to the world that we live in. A distorted sense of self can be internalised in childhood, or any other key moment in our lives when we need to adapt.
My work has been for many years with families affected by alcohol or drug problems. The main organisation I work for Oasis Project, provides a safe, confidential space for young people to address the impact of the dysruption that alcohol or drug problems cause to families. I have 10 years clinical experience working with children and families affected by complex trauma, and of using creative therapy as a means of self acceptance and transformation
The backdrop to this work is the ecological crisis. My approach is a creative one. Just as children and young people, in tending to their creativity, so do adults need to tend to our images, give them attention and find the ways they connect back to the fluid web of interconnections that we call ecological. I call this work “imaginal ecology”
My own creative process led to an explorations of the place where the mythic psyche meets the everyday, a book of poems called “Haunted Evaporations”
About Dramatherapy – The Healing Poetics of Symbolic Action
Dramatherapists work from the understanding that stories that can become therapeutic. Storymaking loosens the bonds of a fixed life script, allows a rehearsal of the possible. The word “Drama” comes from an ancient Greek word meaning “to act or do, or take action.” But the action in theatre is always on a stage – it is symbolic and poetic, the enaction of a story. Drama is always symbolic action.
The word “therapy” comes from the ancient greek “therapia”, which means “to heal, to care for, to tend to”. So dramatherapy is a healing poetics of symbolic action – where the troubles of life can be worked through in the theatre of the psyche.
Taking symbolic action can help us to make decisive change in the “real” world – this is the ancient truth of ritual theatre, where myth and personal narrative blend to allow an archtypal background to everyday problems.
Haunted Evaporations is a book of poems.
“Haunted Evaporations” is an invitation to retrieve the spark that animates words, myths, luminous moments and shadowed experiences.
That spark may be present in the stillness of the trees at night or the psychogeography of an urban landscape.
“Haunted Evaporations” is an invitation to be haunted by the small blue flame we always carry with us – the story of our own life.
Praise for Haunted Evaporations
‘The path up is the path down… The way back is the way onward… Black is white and white is black… The great secret is no secret… Come closer and I will tell you…”
Hermes speaks, in “I will be your Amulet” from Haunted Evaporations