Do you have a therapist?
If so, perhaps one of these thoughts may have occurred to you at one time or another:
- What if I drain my therapist: what if I’m somehow “too much”?
- What if my therapist is too tired or preoccupied to have the energy to attend to me and my needs?
- What if my therapist secretly needs me to look after her?
- What if my therapist’s life is so dull and empty that she needs me to keep her entertained?
Whenever you become aware of having any of these thoughts or feelings, my first recommendation is: talk to your therapist about them. This is a really important part of therapy, and the more you can be open with your therapist about your feelings and thoughts about and towards her (or him), the more you’re likely to gain from therapy.
And hopefully, these feelings are rooted in your own anxieties. A good therapist tries to make sure she is ‘filling her own cup’, nourishing herself with a creative and fulfilling life. This way, your therapist will have plenty of attention, care and energy to devote to you in turn.
Of course, therapists, like the rest of us, aren’t immune to the trials and tribulations of human life. They too need supportive, loving relationships outside of the therapy room, to help them weather the storms – and deepen the joys and delights – of living.How does a therapist 'fill her own cup' so she has more to give? Click To Tweet
Therapists need creative outlets
Therapists also need creative outlets, ways in which they can nurture their own deepest creative self, and reflect on and process what’s going on for them.
I contacted seven therapists and asked them how they nurture their own creativity. Here’s what they told me.
Lisa Mitchell, a Art Psychotherapist in Fairoaks, California, USA, is also an artist. Lisa is passionate about using creativity in therapy, and in life generally. “The most important part of nurturing my creativity is to stay in conscious relationship to my creative process. That means seeing everything I do through an artist’s lens. Artists have an ease with uncertainty, so when I come across that in my life or in my work with clients, I remind myself of a painting process and say, “You don’t need to know what it’s going to be before you start. Just focus on the process, and trust that there is not a wrong way.”
Lisa feels it’s vital to give herself a lot of space and self reflection time. “Creativity needs to breathe and live, and without walks, visual journaling, quiet contemplation, it gets blocked. Whenever I feel particularly stuck with a client or in my own creative process, I do what so many other creatives do….go for a long walk in nature”.
Lisa’s book, Creativity as Co-Therapist, will be coming out in January 2016. Check out her website at www.innercanvas.com.
Laura Hollywood is a counsellor in London, UK. Laura finds nurture and replenishment through enjoying a range of art forms. Laura told me, “I love to get inspired and revitalised by going to sculpture exhibitions, and at least yearly to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I also love theatre and dance, and one of the benefits of living in London is the variety available”.
Find Laura at www.laurahollywood.com.How do therapists connect to their creativity - and why? Click To Tweet
Elly Taylor, a psychotherapist in Sydney, Australia, works with expecting parents internationally to prepare them for the normal and common changes to life and love that come with parenthood.
Elly is also a writer. She explains what writing does for her: “I love to get those swirling thoughts out of my head and down on paper, there’s something validating about seeing them in black and white. Writing helps me clear “stuff”, think things through and, most importantly for me, lets the emotions come up, wash through me and then settle. I’ll find my old writings and reflect back on them, sometimes thinking “geez, this is still an issue for me”, or others: “so glad that I’ve moved through that”.
Elly’s latest book is ‘Becoming Us: 8 Ways to Grow a Family That Thrives’, and her website is www.ellytaylor.com.
Fiona Fitzpatrick, an Art Therapist, is also based in Sydney, Australia. Fiona finds it very rewarding to support her own creativity through small moments of art making every day. “Every morning for 5-10 minutes, I might colour-in a mandala, do a bit of collage or puddle about with some paint. I work small. Over time, all these “marks” add up to a finished image or series of little creative expressions. There’s a great sense of satisfaction and pleasure in those moments of creative flow, kind of like my own kind of meditation. My breathing deepens, thoughts slow down and I am quiet and still. It’s good medicine and I’m a better therapist when I take my daily dose”.
Contact Fiona at www.livingbeyondcancer.au.A therapist explains why she makes art for 5 minutes every day. Click To Tweet
Jessica Fowler, a therapist in Rochester, NY, USA, told me, “I have always enjoyed “crafting” and writing as my two creative outlets. However several years ago I stopped, not really on purpose but it just happened over time. Since having kids, I spend more time in craft stores – and that has inspired me to create more. I started sewing again, which lead to my first craft show!”
Find Jessica at www.jflcounselingservices.com.
Amy Sugeno, a counsellor in Marble Falls, Texas, USA, creates through music:
“I love to write songs I can sing with my acoustic guitar. I write and sing as a way to help me express and process the heartbreak and the beauty of what I hear and experience from my therapist chair. Some people think our work is depressing. And while it is often very difficult, we are also so lucky to get rare glimpses into the most poignant, real, and sacred aspects of humanity.”
Amy’s website is www.amysugenocounseling.com.Therapist: 'Singing helps me express and process the heartbreak and the beauty of client work' Click To Tweet
Michelle Tapia, a psychotherapist in Northridge, CA., USA, also uses music: “it helps me change my moods”. When she’s dealing with difficult feelings, Michelle practises what she preaches: “I do all of the things that I recommend to my clients. For example, when I am angry or sad I create mandalas because I feel such a sense of relief and peace when I am done”.
Check out Michelle at www.innerconflicts.com.
And me? I’m Emma Cameron, an Integrative Arts Psychotherapist, and I’m an artist too. Making art gradually led me into exploring psychotherapy and eventually studying it, as I realised that for me, there isn’t always a clear dividing line between art-making and psychotherapy. They are both ways in to connecting with your deepest creative self. I love making art, and I love witnessing and supporting my clients to creatively explore, understand, develop and be who they truly are.
I work in London and also in Colchester, Essex. If you’d like to work with me to connect with your deepest creative self, email me or call me on 07515 937027.