This is a piece I wrote for What a Shrink Thinks – that in many ways grew out of my work with writers and artists. We need to first assess the function of fallow periods and block, before railing at ourselves. We can often awaken from dormant periods naturally when we respect their larger purposes.

what a shrink thinks

…another mechanism used by some organisms… is that of dormancy, during which an organism conserves the amount of energy available to it and makes few demands on its environment. Most major groups of animals as well as plants have some representatives that can become dormant. Periods of dormancy vary in length and in degree of metabolic reduction, ranging from only slightly lower metabolism during the periodic, short-duration dormancy of deep sleep to more extreme reductions for extended periods of time.    ~ Encyclopedia Britannica 

I spent the summer in a state of pleasant dormancy, following the Lethargian’s schedule:

At 8:00 we get up and then we spend

From 8 to 9 daydreaming.

From 9 to 9:30 we take our early mid-morning nap

From 9:30 to 10:30 we dawdle and delay.

From 10:30 to 11:30 we take our late early morning nap.

From 11:30 to 12:00 we bide our time and then…

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Writers Consultations vs Psychotherapy

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.