Why Psychotherapy for Artists?

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The life of an artist comes with a particular set of challenges.  Artists, whatever their medium or manner of expression — whether they make art objects or perform — have several experiences in common.  They are driven to create; the desire to make art, to improve their ability to manifest their vision informs most if not all of their decisions in life.  Artists spend a great deal of time and energy exploring themselves, differentiating their voice from others, honing their vision, finding and creating their own language with which to communicate their experience.  This focus of effort allows artists to achieve extraordinary levels of self-expression and expertise.

On the other hand, an artist’s focus can also have costs:  years spent alone in studios or practice rooms mean less time spent in casual engagement with peers; developing mastery in expressing one’s own artistic vision takes time away from learning to understand the feelings of significant others; as bodies become ever more exquisitely specialized in service of art, minds may feel lost or isolated, even in the company of family and friends.  From these costs can arise feelings of dissatisfaction, of something missing, loneliness, anxiety, depression, which, in turn, may begin to interfere with the creative endeavors that are an artist’s raison d’être.

In my work with artists, I take the perspective that the specialized skills they develop in their work can be expanded, generalized, and applied to deepen understanding of relationships, personal needs, and goals.  I am not a subscriber to the stereotype of the suffering artist:  on the contrary, I argue that the kind of self-destructive angst that is romanticized in popular portrayals of creative people — and, far too often, adopted by artists themselves — actually strangles creativity and free expression.  A creative person who knows themselves and is at peace with who they are — and with who they are not — is freest to express their unique vision, to share their singular voice.

I work with artists to help identify where they feel stuck, to understand some of the ways they came to be that way, and to help loosen those sticking points.  This can manifest in many ways:  artists have come to me concerned about intimate relationships, seeking support with fears about diving into emotional material for creative projects, worried about achieving their ambitions or spreading themselves too thin, suffering from performance anxiety, and many other issues.  To address these, we have experimented with applying old talents in new ways, sorted out mindless, automatic habits from value-based, intentional behaviors, and uncovered meaningful, deeply-held convictions obscured by outmoded beliefs.

It all begins with the desire to grow.

Life is art.  Create a masterpiece.