To be an artist means never to avert one’s eyes — Akira Kurosawa

As a psychologist, I have the privilege of closely listening to and learning about the myriad of approaches and processes involved in the act of creating as well as its counterpart, the proverbial “creative block.” Indeed, the therapeutic relationship can be looked at as a collaborative and creative endeavor of exploration, insight, and trial-and-error attempts towards growth, change, understanding, and compassion.  

Therapy is an artistic creation of learning how to sit with or to find the medium in which to express difficult emotions such as sadness, mourning, hurt, “truth,” ecstasy, and beauty.  In the end, psychology, like art, is ultimately about the making of meaning, about honesty, about letting go or transmutation, about being in the present moment or recapturing a past one. It is about confronting some essential truth, even if it is a subjective one. Therapy, like art, uses the imagination to write or re-write your narrative–past, present and future.

In addition to being steeped in other peoples’ creative practice and helping them through the stumbling blocks that impede this process, I have a life long involvement in my own creative, and sometimes not so creative, endeavors including poetry, painting, drawing, and playing an instrument.

Creative “blocks” are normal and a part of the creative process. There are ways to transition through these times. Sometimes, however, unknown or hidden experiences and emotions connect to a particular artistic piece, to what is presently happening in your life, or to past experiences, and may be the underlying culprit preventing you from creating a vision/goal and moving towards that foresight. For example, perfectionism, fear of failure or criticism, fear of showing vulnerability can impede creative production.  These emotions or beliefs often link to childhood or difficult experiences with a boss or mentor. It is important to know the difference between “percolating” creative ideas and being blocked.  They can feel remarkably similar.

Most artists or people who dabble in the arts begin creating as a way of expressing what went unspoken within or between. As you already know, children rely on this mode of expression very early on since they do not have access to the precepts or the vocabulary to articulate affect and concepts. At some point, unless one pursues artistic modalities, creative pursuits fall by the wayside.  Therapy can help open up shutdown aspects of oneself and lead to alternative perspectives and connections.  Too often, therapy privileges the spoken word over the “felt truth” or bodily truth.  An integrated approach to therapy with a focus on fostering creativity helps to bring holistic healing to all parts of ourselves-mind, body and spirit.

I welcome therapeutic work that specifically targets coming into or that enhances creative explorations. I work artists across many genres. You do not need to define yourself as an artist to bring creativity and discovery into your life. There are many ways to augment the senses to bring beauty and awe into daily living as a way to deepen belonging and regulate the body.