The Art of Mourning - Exploring the Impact of Artistic Creation Upon the Psychotherapist

McCall, Jessie
Solomon, Margot
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Master of Psychotherapy
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Auckland University of Technology

The realm of artistic creation has long captivated thinkers within the psychotherapeutic sphere. A rich lineage of theoretical contributions considers the origin, nature and process of creativity through a psychoanalytic lens. Fewer contributions, however, consider the significance of therapist as artist. Through the intimate and experience-near methodology of heuristic inquiry, this study comprises a lived investigation into the interrelationship of psychotherapeutic and artistic practice.

Rigorous self-search methods have enabled contact with new awareness, both explicit and tacit, of the author’s experiences as both freelance artist and beginning psychotherapist. These experiential understandings form the raw data of this study, coming into relationship with psychotherapeutic theory in a reflexive examination of the significance of lived artistic process to the psychotherapist.

This research unearths the significance of loss in the creative and therapeutic experiences of the author. Mourning, and the facilitation of integrative inner representations are revealed as processes integral to transformative change in both artistic and psychotherapeutic domains. The development of a personal capacity to tolerate loss, destruction, and change, as well as the nature of resistance to such change, emerge as evident impacts of artistic experience on the psychotherapist.

The understandings generated through this research are examined in their potential significance to the wider psychotherapeutic profession, including implications for training and clinical work. This study offers an embodied proposition: that opening toward loss through personal artistic practice may facilitate a radical recalibrating of self, a process fundamentally resonant with the psychotherapeutic endeavour.

Psychotherapy , Heuristic , Artist , Mourning
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