Niche Update: Creative Giants

Alright, I know I’ve been messing around with my home page and menu a bit lately, and I’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do. I am always assisting my clients on their journeys towards greater integration of all their internal “parts” and greater authenticity. And yet, I’ve been sort of leading a double life. On one side of the week, I make as much time for visual art and writing as possible (sometimes only one hour per day), and on the other side, I am a 100% present, whole-hearted practitioner of the clinical healing arts. The reason why the split feels -at times- as deep as it does is that the modern Western mental health professions are a bit behind the times when it comes to the way that practitioners are trained up and educated. In grad school, during our grad school practicums, and during our pre-licensed, post-grad internships and jobs (and sometimes also, for years before grad school, as in my case, in earlier mental health-related jobs) we have certain principles of the profession drilled into us. We are informed we must not disclose anything about ourselves, not even whether or not we are married, unless we have thought it over and are absolutely certain that the disclosure would be to the client’s benefit.

By the end of all the years of training, being a clinician starts to feel like wearing a wooden mask. There are other practitioners of the healing arts out there, like coaches for example, who do not have to operate under the same ethical and legal strictures, and therefore have more free reign to tell personal stories, and to basically be fully human, both within their online presence and in their work. This is immensely attractive because we live in an age in which people are starving for real, human connection. And trained, licensed psychotherapists get tied up in knots about the degree to which they can or cannot, or should or should not, reveal themselves as humans with stories online and in social media.

I have kept my artist and writer identity totally secret and separate for this, and other reasons. I mean, for Christ’s sake, there are questions on the clinical exam about this. The gist is that therapists and mental health professionals must never reveal themselves as being affiliated with any group online that is in any way political, or affiliated with any non-clinical idea or school of thought that could in any imaginable way ever cause offense or throw a wrench into the therapeutic relationship in the event that a client were to ever find it online. And let’s think about what art is for a second. Art is utter freedom. There are no rules in the realm of art. Art is sometimes offensive, sometimes disruptive to the status quo, sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes “dark”. Art is collective medicine in that way because the artist has to be tuned into what is needed on a collective level, and sometimes what is needed on a collective level is shadow work.

So imagine becoming trained as a licensed psychotherapist, and also having a body of art work and writing that has been accumulating over the years, and wanting to share it. It’s enough to cause a person to form an ultra-mysterious, separate artist identity and pseudonym, and I almost did. Until I didn’t. I want to practice what I preach. I want to practice authenticity and integration of all facets of my life and self. In private practice, not everyone is meant to be working with me, and if I can repel those with whom I’m not meant to work, and attract those with whom I am, then that is excellent. That is the goal.

What kind of clientele would generally not be offended by seeing their therapist’s art and writing online or in other media? I thought. Hmm, probably other artists. (Or at least those who also know themselves to be artists, if you’re alright with the term, on some deep stratum of their being.) I think I also have a pretty good picture of what this kind of person’s central life struggles tend to be, and I wrote about it on my Niche(s) page:

“CREATIVE GIANTS. What is a creative giant, I hear you asking. I’ll explain. A creative giant is a highly creative individual who often finds themselves biting off way more than they can chew, and probably needing to set all kinds of boundaries, though they often have a hard time doing that. Because of this tendency, they are often sniffed out as the-person-who-can-do-it-all, and others will actually push even MORE tasks towards them because others somehow intuit that they were born with a dynamic drive that has them always going, going, going, like a fabulous Roman candle that seems to magically, continuously burn at both ends. These folks tend to have a bias towards service, in one way or another, or to be somehow service-driven and caring. This is an important ingredient in this personality because art truly becomes real art when shared— This personality ingredient is the intrinsic drive towards creating something worthy of being shared, because (in one way or another) it is a gift from one heart to many others. These folks often have multiple creative outlets and projects at any one time, and sometimes require assistance with channeling their huge, beautiful energies in all the ways that their soul most deeply, truly desires.”

I understand deeply the soul-struggle of the creative individual, especially in this world that does not seem to offer many options for solvent adulthood that speak to us on a soul level, and especially not on the artist-soul-level. What distinguishes a creative giant is this continuous devotion to creating, regardless of the outcome of all of their work. They are in love with the process and want to marry it, make a lifelong commitment to it. The process itself can be so transpersonal and mysterious– and if the artist is atheist or agnostic, it is the creative process itself that is perhaps the closest they have ever come to the realm of the gods, the realm of transpersonal forces, and the realm of magic. They are not likely to say something like, “I wanted to be an artist but then realized I wouldn’t get into one of the best art schools,” or,”. . .but then realized I wasn’t good enough to make a career at it.” The creative giant will hear none of that. The outcome of their life’s labor and the response to their body of work does not matter, because to stop creating literally feels like death. To stop creating is unimaginable. I believe this is one of the real, secret reasons why we stand agape and admire the massive paintings of artists like Francis Bacon or Jean-Michel Basquiat. It is because the artist themselves is a phenomenon, a happening. Someone with cajones that big, and a passion and an authenticity that big, seems like a miraculous happening in the universe. We want to soak up the energy of it. I believe this is also a secret reason why people love concerts.

I want to help more people find that creative giant-ism within themselves, and find that miraculous happening within themselves. I want to help people name their true work and bring it into the center of their lives, even through one, devoted, small defiant act per day. There is deep self-love, and mortality-awareness in this practice. Look out for further integrations to come.

And schedule a free 20-minute consultation call by clicking the link below if you want to talk to me directly about any of this shtuff.

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Published by annaliseoatman

I am a heart-centered, trauma-focused, licensed therapist with five years of experience working with traumatized, system-involved children and youth, adults moving through addiction and recovery, and older adults in skilled nursing facilities with HIV/AIDS-related health struggles. I earned an Oxbridge Masters in Philosophy (Mental and Moral Sciences) at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and a Masters in Social Work, with a concentration on mental health and direct clinical practice, at the University of Southern California. I love empowering, and healing trauma, and doing soul work with passionate, free-thinking, creative women, or anyone who has ever identified as having the female experience. My approach is warm, empathic and grounded, and I integrate an attachment perspective with a somatic and depth approach to healing trauma.

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