Working with Artists

Working with artists in psychotherapy

Working with artists in psychotherapy presents some intriguing  challenges.   My ongoing work with artists stems from a background in dance. While people in the arts tend to be very interested in  depth psychological , for many, the idea of relying  on an  expert runs counter to a life long investment in self creation. Psychoanalysts understand  how important it is to respect the patient’s most central creation- his or her own self.  Creativity  has a special function  that simulates important early developmental experiences.  Artists, and others involved in creative work,  are particularly involved in this imaginative  process for their work, and frequently  their sense of identity.

In an effort to meet artists half way,  I have developed a teaching method that has been presented at  workshops, and short term programs.  This psycho-educational teaching method has been taught as a 15 week elective in the Dance Department at Montclair Stare University.   This year I was invited to guest teach at The Juilliard School, while giving a workshop series at Miller Health Care Institute For Performing Artists,  in the Lincoln Center area.   Psychoanalysts are something  of a curiosity  outside the consulting room.  It is important to be able to give structure and meaning to psychological principles in ways that are easily digestible.  For example,  at a workshop, I was able to describe the transforming nature of a dance performance, for both viewing audience and dancers,  as similar to a therapy session where the artist feels emotionally held and intimately experienced by an engaged  onlooker.

Identifying specific needs of a population and getting involved with the community has been a growing effort  for psychoanalysts, and many others in the helping professions.   Joining professional arts organizations has been educational, and opened doors  to networking  and opportunities to give presentations.  This October I will give  a second presentation at the National Dance Education Organization conference in Albuquerque, MN.  The workshop is entitled,“Psychological Dance Warm-Up: Illuminating Intentions With Mental Imagery.”

The teaching method I call BRAVE (Breathing , Releasing, Aligning, Visualizing  and Energizing) supports dancers specific use of their bodies while facilitating a psychological approach.  The teaching method blends principles and techniques from sports psychology,  dance education, meditative practices, as well as psychoanalysis.