5 Benefits of Therapy for Creative Artists

therapy bunny

Aw….right? We all have low times, no matter how magical our lives might seem. And sometimes even carrots  chocolate and hugs aren’t strong enough medicine.

I first learned the value of therapy when I’d returned to Minnesota from Paris, where I’d been diagnosed with an eating disorder. I figured the doctor of behavior and emotions would supply the answers I lacked and I’d soon be off on my healthy, happy way. The moment I sat down in her office, I started babbling. (That question list was LONG.) When I finally paused to breathe and listen, the smart-looking woman with a silver-gray pixie and glasses that could only be described as spectacles smiled and asked, “What do you think?”

Agh! Where were my answers? Little did I know that my endless talking would comprise much of my battle, and that my fast-paced monologue was merely a brief, if important, beginning.

Those of you who’ve had therapy know that an answer grab bag, psychic readings and instant clarity aren’t it. From what I understand, psychotherapy works well when our counselor is skilled and a strong personal fit, and we are ready and willing to dig deep—no matter how challenged or vulnerable we might feel. He or she helps us understand what we’re feeling and why, and discover answers we likely hold within.

power along

If you read my recent post about the blues, you know I’ve experienced some emotional bumps lately. When they started to feel like more than the occasional blip on the life screen, I decided to see a therapist. Nothing earth shattering was happening, but having experienced major depression in the past, I’ve learned not to let such minor red flags enlarge into deafening sirens.  I’ve observed that some people view therapy as emotional chemotherapy, a sign of serious health problems. To me, it’s preventative medicine, and a place I can turn to in doubtful times. I’ve also come to believe that the occasional “check up from the neck up” (or the chest cavity, really) is beneficial for most everyone, particularly artists.

Therapy for Creatives: 5 Mega-Perks

1. Empowerment and support. We creative types tend to be highly sensitive, cerebral creatures. The ability to explore our thoughts and emotions with a caring professional who gets that can help us feel less alone. The less isolated and obscure we feel, the more likely we are to feel empowered.

2. Blockage prevention. I don’t much believe in writers’ block, but I strongly believe in life block. When we’re stuck, stilted or confused emotionally, I feel it shows in our writing—or lack thereof. Therapy can help us find or maintain freedom from issues that stand in the way of our expression, freeing us up for growth and success.

3. Hope springs! Even the cheeriest of us are susceptible to lulls and hardship. Whether you see the glass as half full, half empty, beautiful or smash-worthy, therapy can instill a sense of proactivity. Knowing we’re working through challenges and doing whatever internal work is necessary inspires a sense of hope—the seed of many creative dreams.

4. Problem recognition. You know when you’re reading a mystery and suddenly realize a crucial plot point you missed? One sentence or scene can reveal what’s been happening all along. Therapy can have similar effects, bringing light to hidden, attention-worthy issues. As with novels, such epiphanies often make way for happy endings (and new beginnings). And every writer knows that problems make for great plot additions. 😉 (Consider it research!)

5. Dream fuel. Some years ago when I was grappling with career decisions, a therapist suggested I close my eyes and imagine I was holding a magic wand. If I could use it to create my ideal work day, she asked, would it entail? My impromptu answer spilled out as though scripted, and within weeks that wish was coming into fruition. (I’m sure many of you can relate.) Sometimes we simply need someone to ask the right questions for the proper path to appear. Stating our dreams out loud gives them—and us—power.

Fabulous related links:

9 Steps to Finding a Therapist, by Louise Behiel

The Link Between Depression and Creativity, and How It Can Be Good For You, by Tanner Christenen

You Are Beautiful and Strong, Sweet Child of Abuse, by Kassandra Lamb (While not directly related, Kassandra’s points on healing and thriving seem suitable to most anyone. Beautiful stuff!)

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Are you a fan of therapy? What’s your favorite benefit? Has it helped your creative work? What would you do with that magic wand? Special thanks to everyone who offered support at my mention of feeling a bit low the other week. I’m on the up-and-up, and haven’t taken a word of your encouragement lightly.  Lots o’ love! ♥