Dormant

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…

View original post 2,175 more words

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.

SubText Consultations & Writer’s Clinic

photo-13

There are times in every writer’s work when we dread facing the emptiness of the blank screen or page, when the words run dry, when the characters we have created turn against us, behaving in ways that we don’t understand.  When we lose the thread that connects us to our unconscious creativity we can find ourselves blocked, stuck, and frustrated.

SubText Consultations  offers the chance to review your work and your process with a psychotherapist who writes. Our consultants offer their professional training, expertise, and experience to help other writers get through the dry spells, move through the maze, and dig out from under the blocks that  all writers regularly encounter on their journeys.

We can coach you through creating your own rituals and structures which help to deepen your writing practice and collaborate more respectfully with your own unconscious processes. We can help you harness the spontaneous creativity and archetypal imagery of your psyche through, for example, dream work, journaling, and the active imagination work of C. G. Jung. We will help you to find your voice.

Our Writer’s Clinic offers fiction writers a chance to put their characters “on the couch” and to confer with a psychotherapist about the internal, psychological continuity of a character’s life, about how environmental stressors and traumas might impact their development and relationships to other characters. We can scan for psychological continuity. We can also examine the writer’s relationship to their own characters to assist the writer in allowing themselves to understand and imagine a more fully realized living character.

We offer our services in the office individually and in writers groups for those in NYC, through video conferencing, and particularly through written consultations which allow us to engage in dialogue  –  creating a written record  – as we use our writers’ brains together to address writing concerns.

Although our consultants are practicing psychotherapists who have worked for many years with diverse individuals, including novelists, poets, journalists, bloggers and academics, at  SubText Consultations we offer ourselves in a different capacity – as fellow writers who look at the world through a psychological lens. Bringing our life-experience as psychotherapists along with us, we look to offer consultation, coaching, and support to fellow writers in their work, through all the sticky and stuck patches.