The stereotype of the tortured artist is a persistent one. We often think of writers as depressed, actors cycling in and out of rehab, and musicians struggling to control their impulses. It’s true that past experiences, both good and bad, are powerful tools in creative work. Fleshing out a character, writing, dancing, or creating music requires you to really feel your feelings, and it is this heightened sensitivity that can open you up to a great deal of hurt in your everyday life. That doesn’t mean that you have to suffer alone: therapy can help you find balance.
Artists can be hesitant to enter therapy, fearing that processing painful experiences and feelings could change their art, or worse, damage their creativity. This worry can prevent artists from getting help when they experience anxiety, depression, or the difficult problems that come with a career in the arts like creative blocks, stage fright, and economic insecurity. These are exactly the types of struggles, however, that therapy can be so helpful for. Therapy is about removing barriers, understanding the painful blocks that prevent us from succeeding in our careers, connecting to other people, and feeling comfortable in our own skin. In fact, studies have found that artists are actually less creative when they are feeling truly “tortured.”
So what does the therapy process look like for an artist? The answer will be highly personal to you. Maybe it’s about setting healthy boundaries with the people in your life. Maybe it’s developing a mindfulness practice that helps you manage your anxiety. Maybe you’re not sure what the problem is and need a safe place to explore what is blocking your creativity. As an artist, sensitivity is a real strength, and the goal of therapy is not to take this sensitivity away. It is to find a way to access your feelings and experiences when you need to without being overwhelmed by them. Therapy is also a creative process, and a good therapist will work with you to understand your goals, identify your blocks, and develop an approach that makes sense for you. As a therapist who previously worked in the creative arts, I know these things firsthand. To make an appointment with me click here.