Category Archives: suggested readings

On being one, on being many

Quotes from Essays on the Creative Arts Therapies: Imaging the Birth of a Profession by David Read Johnson

“I am one person, yet I am all of these, a drama therapist, a creative arts therapist, a mental health professional, a health care provider, and a suffering person. Each of us faces this challenge, to be one, and to be many. The capacity to integrate experience: our feelings, thoughts, roles, and identities into one whole, while maintaining an appreciation for the diversity and complexity of the parts, this indeed is the challenge of development, of growth, of maturity.” (p. 36)

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Thesis progress

Current literature review includes the following chapters:

  • Institutional Issues
  • The Psychology of Shame
  • Burnout
  • Returning to the Self
  • Professional Identity and Empowerment

Methodology will involve the Depression and Anxiety Stress Scale as well representational self-portraits.

Books/articles I’ve been reading lately:

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Shame Dynamics Among Creative Arts Therapists

From Essays on the Creative Arts Therapies: Imaging the Birth of a Profession by David Johnson (1999):

As artists, therapists, and (mostly) women, creative arts therapists have experienced a sizable amount of humiliation in the course of their careers. (p. 66)

To choose a career as a creative arts therapist often means stretching the tolerance of one’s family and entering a world where one is not understood or appreciated. (p. 67)

Empowerment also means carrying the burden of past abuse that we do not pass on to those who follow us: to support others, when we were shamed; to mentor others, when we were not mentored; to remain positive when what we experienced was negative. (p. 71)

Progress will mean experiencing the emergence of power from within our ranks. (p. 73)

In order for us to move forward in contributing to American health care, we need to be able to collaborate closely with each other; we need to be able to form a larger entity with greater strength and unity. (p. 74)

Institutional space is largely complex. Because of the levels and layers built up within institutional spaces, there are often many chances for dysfunction to form. This is probably true of any work environment, particularly a large work environment. Office politics happen, but who would have thought they also happen within institutional settings that are created to provide a therapeutic environment for treatment?

Institutional burnout isn’t a new idea, but maybe prevention can be explored further.

David Johnson is direct. He says what I’ve picked up on in my little experience as a graduate student. He puts into words the experiences of trying to form an identity in the field. But what I like about David Johnson the most is his ability to separate from the negative and move into the hopeful and potential aspects of making progress in the field by focusing on the importance of collaborating and providing community support for each other in our respective fields.

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Home is where we start from

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment

‘East Coker,” Four Quartets

Sources of inspiration

  • The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
    By Irvin Yalom
  • Attachment in Psychotherapy
    By David Wallin
  • The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations
    By Christopher Lasch
  • The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being
    By Daniel J. Siegel
  • The Haunted Self: Structural Dissociation and the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization
    By Onno van der Hart, Ellert R. S. Nijenhuis, Kathy Steele
  • Affect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of Self
    By Peter Fonagy, Gyorgy Gergely, Elliot Jurist, Mary Target
  • Oneness and Separateness: From Infant to Individual
    By Louise Kaplan

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The good enough mother

From Psychoanalytic Diagnosis by Nancy McWilliams:

A markedly nonnarcissistic attitude toward offspring informs the remarks of an 85-year-old friend of mine who reared 12 children during the Depression, all of whom have turned out well, despite borderline poverty and some painful losses:

“Every time I’d get pregnant, I’d cry. I’d wonder where the money would come from, how I was going to nurse this child and take care of everything else. But around the fourth month I’d begin to feel life, and I’d get all excited, thinking, ‘I can’t wait till you come out and I find out who you are!'”

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