If psychology is the study of the soul then therapy becomes a process of healing by which we utilize our understanding of soul or, perhaps more accurately, we attempt to understand the soul and in the process, reveal some helpful insights along life’s journey. Exploring these depths requires more than just talk, especially when soul’s first language is art; whether that be visual, musical, poetic or theatrical it is in the symbolic rather than literal where we find the most value and potential for transformation. If that sounds like a multi-media creative art experiential to you then you might be right. According to experts, or well lets just say me for right now, therapy should be about facilitating healing via utilization of any medium/mode necessary. Whatever works – right? It is about creating a multi-modal healing experience because talking about our traumas is not enough. I know that for me, I eventually have to go beyond the canvas, beyond the 3 dimensions and into the multi-dimensional world of relationships, emotions, interactions and imagination to really experience the shifts in consciousness- probably why I am an art therapist in the first place and not a talk therapist; but beyond that I am really just an artist.
A fear years ago, I was asked to be a part of a multi-media interactive happening of sorts at the MIX event in Santa Fe. MIX is about community, collision, networking and knowing what’s happening locally. As a Santa Fe therapist I had my reservations…can I still be a performance artist and a therapist at the same time? I have been a performing artist in the past but not since taking on the role of therapist. Would this somehow change my identity or reputation in the community for the worse? In reflection, I confirmed for myself that I am all of these things: artist, therapist, teacher, student, performer, introvert, extrovert, dancer, deep listener and I am not willing to settle for claiming just one identity. I dare say that the future is less about specialization and more about synthesis. Bringing disparate arenas into one field is much more interesting and contemporary. So I said yes.
The performance was about changing and the transformative process inherent within all types of transition. We are constantly changing, clearing, healing and integrating pieces of ourselves, playing out different archetypes so that we may have a more comprehensive experience of Self. I wanted to offer this experience for my clients and my community as much as for myself, because it is happening all over; Just think of the web, and all throughout our culture. We must ride this wave of evolution together. Therapists should not be left behind, nor poets, nor architects, nor any of the other professions that struggle to make it alone. Not that those professions are not valued but marketing them becomes a career in and of itself. I say let’s increase collaboration and not be afraid to change with the times and trends and to use each other’s modes and mediums to do so.
MIX was all about providing a space for collisions to occur, just like in therapy. Think about it, we open a space, activate it with our bodies, ideas, stories, agendas, goals, etc and intend for those various orbits of emotional constructs, mental patterning, physical prowess, even our heart samskaras to collide like asteroids creating new planets, new products, new possible paths and dismantling the old all at the same time. Let’s change together. Let’s mix things up. Let’s evolve. Let’s stand in our multi-dimensional truth.
I am a performance artist, ethical therapist and conscious community member all at the same time so I am always changing identities, stretching old paradigms, pushing the future forward, advocating for truth and encouraging you to synthesize, to activate space, to collide with something new and to collaborate for the highest good. Even therapists, no, especially therapists, have to do their own healing, with any media/mode necessary. Mine just happens to use a public forum at times, what can I say? -I’m a Leo- archetypally speaking …as usual.
Heather is an archetypal art therapist, clinical supervisor, performance artist and course instructor in Santa Fe, NM. She currently serves as Adjunct Faculty at Southwestern College teaching Archetypal Psychology and Internship Seminar as well as at the Santa Fe University of Art & Design teaching Who Am I? an Intro to Art Therapy. Feel free to view her website.