(Psychotherapy as Artistic Experience)
As an art piece can be an agreement between an artist and an observer, therapy is a pact entered into by the participants. What realization makes us decide if, when, or how therapy happens? My work explores the boundaries of perception between therapy, art and experience. The frame, therapeutic or artistic, exists within the minds of two or more people as an interaction and an idea.
As a long practicing artist and designer, my approach to this version of Tx~Art will be a way of creating collaborations with other artists, an aesthetic experience that happens in the moment. Therapy with members of the artistic community about their lives and experiences as artists as well as their relationships and personal concerns would be an opportunity for me to be a part of an ongoing artistic work as well as an opportunity for artist clients to create therapeutic change during the experience.
This project will span the next 2 years (beginning in Spring 2015) and be limited to no more than 20 people at a time. I will accept on a first come first serve basis people who fit the criteria, and clients may have as many or as few sessions as we both agree seem necessary for their own therapeutic awareness and change to develop. People may come and go over the space of the 24 months. There will be a sliding fee scale for client/artists who wish to take part in the Tx~Art project. (please see the Client Agreement and Fees page for rates)
Working artists and creatives are those whose work, avocation or passion entails inspiration, generating ideas, and/or the study and mastery of craft or technique. This includes but is not exclusive to: visual artists, writers, musicians, performers, filmmakers, designers, craftspeople, gallerists, arts administrators, and entrepreneurs.
Therapy can create change within a person, helping them become their best and most desired self, and can also lead to improved ability to make art or pursue their craft. One way of communicating the importance of the work artists do is to support them in their creation of it, helping them be their best possible selves, thereby creating the best work they can. A change in attitude and perception by artists towards the people that surround them can also determine the level of success in their work.
I had a chance to experience this first hand while in my year of clinical training. While conducting yearlong ongoing individual counseling sessions with 3 working artists, a performer, a writer and a visual artist, I found a variety of problems, attitudes, and psychic phenomenon that were particular to working artists and creatives, and saw that they were often not noticed, were dismissed as being irrelevant to therapy, or that their importance was diminished by other non-artist psychologists. Some of the many issues I encountered were how to navigate as a creative person in the corporate world, how to maintain relationships with family or a partner that doesn’t understand or accept how a creative person thinks or lives, what it’s like to live with another creative person in a relationship while keeping individual identity, how to navigate the fraught conflicts between being a parent and the desire to have a creative life and career, and last but not least trying to understand inspiration and creativity, how to get it, keep it, and how to live with its block or loss.
Artists usually do not have access to ongoing individual psychotherapy, and this underserved group is often misconstrued in a variety of ways and is subject to inaccurate stereotypes by the public at large as well as non-creative or non-artists within the counseling or psychology community. Another issue affecting artists today is how current technology has changed the landscape for the pursuit of their chosen medium and career. People who make a living by creating have a complicated journey to self identity and are influenced in a number of ways by how the society they live in and interact with does or does not value their work and contribution to social life, on and off line.
Often the lack of renumeration for an artists’ craft or time is reflected in attitudes society has about artists, (art is just fun, it’s not serious, you can’t get paid for making art, etc.), as well as long held societal views of artists as being more prone to instability, addiction and mental illness. These images of the artistic persona are often internalized by artists, which creates another layer of conflict between ideas of self-worth, internal attitudes of self-value, and self-esteem.
One of the goals of this project will be to make an effort to change that social paradigm, and help artists clarify their worth to themselves and their community. This can hopefully create a ripple effect and help society come closer to realizing the important contribution artists make to the world and everyone’s experience of it.