Therapist for Artists, not Art Therapist

I studied architecture. I studied philosophy. As my studies of social work comes to an end, I find myself thinking about how I can combine my skills. I wonder if there are any models out there. If there are and you are reading this please comment below. For now this is how I feel….

“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for meaning I can tell you I don’t have answers, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a guide for people like you. If you find your own meaning now that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will find meaning with you.”
Hungryphil ( modified from Liam Neeson, Taken

My husband and I came up with this parallel. We thought it was funny for those of you familiar with the movie reference. I do have a very particular set of skills that verges on irrelevance. Yet, one that can be very useful to people who confront the seemingly meaningless everyday.

Why therapist for artists you might ask? What makes them different?

It is not so much that artists are different but they may be, in so many ways, avant-gardes of emotional ownership and expression. Artists struggle and transform their pain into material expression. They own and give trauma, life. Some can’t bear the process and fall. Others manage to integrate and map their maze of reality, dream, nightmare, hyper-reality, delusion and ecstasy. Some rely so much on their pain as a creative source that they rather remain depressed, enraged or erratic in order to feed their work. To be a therapist for artists, one has to respect the creative power of dark emotions. It is never about eliminating such powerful feelings. Rather the goal is to harness the power. Without this ability, either the artist dies or the art dies.

I admire the audacity of artists. I fear their invitation and vulnerability to dark emotions. I love art and self-expression. I love self-awareness more. As a therapist for artist, I need to “see” not only the artist as client but also their artwork as client. In essence, my therapeutic commitment must be to both: artist and artwork.

Only with this dedication would an artist trust me.

Show me your art, show me your heart, so I can help you see yourself at the center of all the chaos.

I’m sending this wish, to serve artists, out to the universe. May it guide me on this beautiful warm February Sunday and beyond.

It has been cold and dark for so long. I am so glad to see the sun and see the completion of another piece to my particular skill set.

With love,


4 thoughts on “Therapist for Artists, not Art Therapist

  1. jcharles00

    I don’t know of any models of Therapy for Artists, but I think it’s a great idea. I’ve talked to several Therapists about issues around design jobs, and it’s always frustrating when we get down to context, because they just don’t have that experiential corpus. I have similar issues with the tech industry in general and I have the same therapy issue there; not much frame of reference.
    I have seen that there are starting to be more tech-centric Therapists. I don’t know if there’s any overlap in that area with what you’re working towards but it might be worth a google. Definitely some different challenges, but at the end of the day we’re all trying to embrace our special individualities at the same time we’re working through increasingly intense person-as-commodity stuff.


    • lsbanu

      Agreed. Sensitivity to context help establish trust. Thanks for the tech-centric therapist reference….definitely worth a search. And you’re right we are all, in any profession, are trying to negotiate our commercial “value.” Including therapists. I suppose for artists or others who produce/ create a product the “evaluation” is doubled. Interesting to think about, right? How do I value myself, how do I value my work….. context, value, individuality all worthy ways to think about this….I’ll keep noting ideas. Send me more thoughts when you do. Artist/Artwork the doubling of the therapeutic engagement maybe similar to family therapy. A strange internal external relationship….


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