Consider the one who paints. Brush drenched in color, hanging, waiting, hesitated above the taut white linen of the canvas. What does this artist do before the next move but listen? The artist, inspired, must listen to some felt internal direction that compels a line. This first line is just the beginning of an image rendered from the mind, assembled through a process of internal listening and execution. In the mixing of paint, the making of the stroke, the reckoning with space and the many tricks of imagistic evocation, the painter uses the skill set of her craft. The listening, though, is something universal, to artists, to people; the skill is innate if easy to forget. When we can remember it and apply it to the process of creation, including the creation of ourselves and our life direction, we benefit from the greatest resource known to artists, a symbiotic relationship with the unconscious.
As therapists, we take the artistry of our craft very seriously, and as we engage with our clients, we also listen deeply and internally to how our unconscious is making sense of what is heard. At the same time, and even more importantly, our aim is to help the client become an artist of their own unconscious. That is, to help this person who suffers attend to the self and to their suffering with an artist's ear, listening for the dream beneath the communicated story, the magic and symbol beneath its reasoned linearity. Too often we get so stuck inside beliefs about what we are supposed to feel or do and who we are supposed to be that we fail to attend to the profusion of expression and experience that evades our neat constrictive narratives. The truth is, the narratives that harm us most are the cliches, selected by our society or by our early families, assigned to us before we yet had the felt authority to author our own. Attending to the self with artistry, and cracking up those tight cliches to liberate a poetry, means reclaiming a story about the self and reclaiming creation.