We’ve been asked a few times to describe the differences between our writing consultations and psychotherapy:
1) When writers who are blocked contact us, we explore the structures, rituals, habits, routines and expectations they have around their writing processes – and try to consider how these structures, or lack of structure, may need to be realigned to re-establish creative flow again. There is no one system or process that works for every writer – and the assessment skills we have developed as psychotherapists are particularly useful in understanding how needs and processes change over time and in response to external events and stressors.
2) We explore techniques for subverting inhibitions that can create blocks drawn from psychoanalytic theory and assessment (free association, active imagination, dream work) and examine the function of the block itself: Every symptom is an attempt at a solution, and once we understand and honor the protective aspects of the block, better solutions often emerge that allow the words to flow again. We also guide writers into deeper respect for the nature and function of the Unconscious and its relationship to creative work.
3) Together we may explore and ponder fictional characters internal lives – just as we might with a parent who is talking about a child who is having difficulty – to help writers have fuller understanding and deeper empathy, compassion and identification with the characters they are creating.
4) In psychotherapeutic training all therapists begin their work with a supervising therapist – to help them stay available and present with their clients, and address blocks to empathy and intuition with client work. Clinical supervision is not psychotherapy – but focuses on the work of therapy itself. In much the same way that supervision uses and draws on psychotherapeutic understanding and knowledge while respecting the psychological privacy, goals, and history of the therapist – we apply a similar respectful boundary to the personal psyche, goals, history and aesthetic of the writer – focusing on the work of writing itself.
If writers who use our consultation services decide to participate in psychotherapy – choosing to more deeply examine their present-day relationships – we make informed referrals to practitioners we respect.