My Business Identity and Niche

“By offering myself in a true way, I am doing a great service to the world, because it is rare, and it will help.” -Charlie Kaufman (screenwriter of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and other great movies)

What is “integrative, trauma-informed, heart-and-soul-oriented therapy for artists and creatively stifled people”? Good question.

Integrative: As I mentioned on my Home page, I am trained in a variety of evidence-based therapeutic modalities, including EMDR (see EMDR page), but I don’t lean into any one approach as my only approach. I feel that, in order to do clinical work with integrity, I have to familiarize myself with different approaches and orientations, and then have the bravery to step into the unknown in each session, unsure of which medicine will prove to be most helpful moment-by-moment. I know this makes some people squirm (although artists tend to be comfortable with ‘process’ and ‘unknown’), so, in a client-centered way, I do really like the loose container that EMDR provides for the arc of the therapeutic process. However, there will always be an element of the unpredictable, just as in the creative process, and I allow for this.

Trauma-Informed: Most of my clinical background is steeped in trauma work in one form or another, so it is my area of greatest clinical expertise, and it has become a well-honed lens. I tend to think about “what happened” before I think about “what’s wrong”. I am also able to treat actual trauma in my practice with EMDR (and this applies to other badly digested experiences that you might not consider “traumas” but that still cause distress in the present). As far as I can tell, the overlap between anxiety and trauma is large, and I have a fairly in-depth understanding of anxiety, and some forms of depression/depressive symptoms, as well.

Heart-and-Soul-Centered: I used to say “spiritually-oriented,” but I still need to think more about what that even means. When I speak of the human heart and soul, I’m not necessarily talking about something metaphysical floating above or around your body. It might be that– I’m not sure. I’m talking about the part of you that speaks truth in dreams, the part of you that makes you sad when the world seems hell-bent on selling you a bucket of lies. I’m talking about the part of you that can write transcendental poems and create other transcendental art objects, and is hungry for that, hungry for music, hungry to make some kind of meaning. Hungry, in general, because American culture doesn’t really have great food for it readily on offer, most of the time. I’m talking about the part of you that is unbelievably tender and that has caused you on occasion to feel overwhelmed with love, whatever that is. I want to help you preserve those parts, for the love of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, trees and stars. (I’m not Christian, if that matters. I’m fairly agnostic, but sold on the prophetic and creative power of dreams. I tend to do great work with people with similar leanings.)

Who are artists and creatively stifled people? If you are an artist or a creatively stifled person, you probably do not need for me to answer this question. Please give me a call (click the red ‘Schedule’ link below) if you’re curious about whether we’d be well-matched. The eye of this needle will continue to get smaller and smaller as I am slowly transitioning my practice towards only working with people who are okay with the fact that I am also an artist and writer, and with whom our therapeutic relationship would not be impacted or negatively affected by seeing my art online or my writing online, even when that art or writing at times looks or seems ‘disturbing,’ political in any conceivable way, fashion or form, or emotionally vulnerable. As soon as more art and writing is publicly shared, this will become a very serious boundary for me as an artist and as a clinician-healer, as I take both of those roles, and the integrity of both of those roles, incredibly seriously, as well as the public integration of who I really am. A good therapist should model good boundaries and publicly owning and integrating who they really are. I will be going over this during consultation calls, will include it in my informed consent documents, and will review it in first sessions to make absolutely certain. I may even eventually include a screening test of some kind.

I tend to attract a lot of women and female-identifying people in their 20s and 30s, as there seems to be a natural, easy resonance between us. However, there are no strict exclusionary factors here. What matters most is that we jibe well as people.

Schedule a free 20-minute consultation call if you’re curious!

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Annalise Oatman, MA, LCSW 88254

45 Franklin St., Suite 214, San Francisco, CA 94102


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