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,

Hungryphil

Hungryphil starts an MSW

It is a bit unusual for someone with a Ph.D. to go back to school, right? Yet, here I am.

This is my first-week attending IUPUI’s Masters of Social Work program online. I don’t find my status odd or contradictory. Given my graduate work at the New School School for Social Research, a pursuit of social work practices was inevitable.  A perspective also reinforced by my parents, PhDs in Social Work and Education working in Dhaka. Inevitable.

However, I am surprised to find myself, afraid. What if I fail, what if I’m stupid, what if I’m too old, what if I’m wasting all this money…yada..yada..yada…We are all so vulnerable to our own minds trying desperately to protect us.  This is when a third person inner monologue may help.  Let me demonstrate:

“Hungryphil wants to be a better helper. She wants to help people rebuild their lives after loss of love, meaning, and self-worth. She is afraid of being back in school to help her do so, but the risk of failure is worth it.”

While the use of a  third person voice can be annoying, it helps me distance myself and see myself.

Mostly this week involved awkward video introductions, being overwhelmed with the flood of assignments and the bubbling excitement of learning. It was a good start.

How can a philosopher-architect-food lover evolve into a therapeutic, creative, responsive change agent who helps others rebuild lives out of their own self-discovered empowerment?

My first clue comes from this week’s reading: Chapter 1 of Challenging Oppression and Confronting Privilege by Bob Mullaly, began with the following quote by Ben Agger,

Critical social theory conceives human liberation as the highest form of intellectual activity.

I wonder if this thought will hold under an Object Oriented Ontology perspective?

Hmmm…..so many questions to come……… it seems I’ll be talking to myself a lot!

Happy blossoming everyone,

Hungryphil