Signature Program BETA Launch Coming January 2019

What's Your Gift?

creative doing obstacles Dec 09, 2018

I think everyone has a special gift, something that is theirs and theirs alone to realize, and to give. And yet, not everyone realizes their gift. What about you?

If you check in with yourself right now - the life you're living; the career you’re pursuing; your relationships; your hopes, dreams, and fears - what do you see? Are you realizing and giving your unique gift to the world?

If I’m honest with you (and I hesitate saying this, because it sure sounds immodest), I think my special gift is the ability to see the gifts of others! I think it led me to become a therapist, and it’s what I hope to offer you in my new online course and coaching program, “The More Creative Therapist” (beta launching in January).

Through my program, I hope to help you realize your special gift, using creativity as a vehicle for doing so.

During sessions as a therapist, I often find myself holding possibility for my clients. As therapists, we often use that word,...

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A Brief Respite

obstacles Dec 02, 2018

I’ve been laying low for the past few months, and if you haven’t noticed, maybe it’s a mistake to point it out. But I thought I’d confess: I’m burned out.

It’s embarrassing for me to admit, because I pride myself on not getting burned out! For the most part, I’ve considered this my special gift as a therapist: that I don’t tend to experience the burnout I hear about from most of my peers. And it’s all the more embarrassing because burnout is one of the problem areas I hope to address in the course and program I’m developing on creativity for therapists.

So I write this sheepishly. What went wrong?

Since burnout comes in so many forms, I find it helpful now as I write and reflect, to ask myself how I know I’m burned out. Because it’s something I don’t identify with, some closer examination is called for.

I realize I’m burned out because I’ve had a nagging “cold” (upper respiratory...

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Artificial Urgency

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. My task list is full, there aren’t enough hours in the day, and my responsibilities loom large. It leads predictably to stress and exhaustion. Given the work we do, it’s no surprise that burnout and self-care are mainstays in discussions (online and off-) about the work of helping professionals.

At times it feels insurmountable.

But at other times, if I allow myself, I can see my contribution to the wear and tear. I contribute by insisting on an urgency that really isn’t there. Not really. I’ve just convinced myself that it’s so. I think we often do, out of habit, out of self-importance, out of a sense of crisis that just might be more in our heads than anything.

I recently posted this in an online discussion group: Sometimes I need to remind myself that I don't really HAVE TO do anything. That's self-care too. I was surprised by how many “likes” the post generated. I was glad the message resonated.


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Solution Focused

creative doing Aug 05, 2018

I was a designer before I became a psychotherapist, fields that are very different in some ways, similar in others. Design is all about solutions, and so is therapy. Both begin by identifying a problem that needs to be solved. And that’s where the challenges and opportunities begin.

Therapy uses diagnostic tools (symptom identification and classification) to define a client’s concerns according to a system, the DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association. Whatever the DSM-5 defines is the problem: depression, anxiety, psychosis. The therapist works collaboratively with the client to explore underlying causes, monitor symptoms, and work toward decreased distress.

Design explores problems too, but in a more open-ended way. In the absence of a single, encyclopedic classification system, designers are free to consider problems creatively. The designer works with the client to explore the identification of the problem as a problem in the first...

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Envisioning Your Private Practice

Going into private practice is a dream for many helping professionals, even while in graduate school. It certainly was for me. So even as I accrued my requirements for licensure, even as I studied for my credentialing exam, I dreamed of private practice. It was a dream I actively nurtured by “starting” the practice well before it became a reality.

How did I start? By looking at available office spaces online and by envisioning myself in those spaces. By preparing my intake paperwork packet. By designing my business card and website, going through many, many versions until things felt just right. By thinking of who I wanted to serve and how. By drafting my Psychology Today listing.

In short:  I started by using my imagination.

I took the initiative to actively visualize the look and feel of my practice, my clients, and the kind of day I wanted to experience. I imagined what my office would look like, where it would be located, and the tone it would convey. I worked...

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To Do or Not To Do

creative doing Jun 24, 2018

I woke up yesterday with a head full of to-do’s, feeling the pressure to get out of bed and get started right away. All this, on a Saturday no less. I felt the tug, but instead of succumbing, I recognized the underlying truth: that I didn’t really have to do anything. The choice was mine. And when I looked closer, nothing on my list was truly urgent. It just felt that way. Momentarily.

I think we often convince ourselves of an urgency that isn’t real. Often it’s just a habit, a knee-jerk response to anxiety. Sometimes it’s an indulgence - a way of magnifying our sense of importance. And at other times still, I think it’s a cleverly disguised distraction. The busyness distracts us from whatever’s underneath. And the only way to face that is to slow down.

When I do slow down, the resulting ease is a welcome relief. I allow myself to rest there a while. The “while” can be a few minutes, hours, or a day. Yesterday, it was a day.


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I had a few conversations with colleagues this week who (coincidentally) wanted to make a change in their professional practice by doing more work in advocacy and social justice. They clearly felt this was the direction they wanted to pursue, but they weren’t quite sure how to proceed.

This is the way a creative impulse feels. It often begins as a yearning - the feeling of longing coupled with a general sense of direction, but without the clarity.


I have a suggestion:  gain clarity by taking the ideas that accompany those feelings and “thingify” them. How? Give them form. You can begin with something as simple and straightforward as a list. But I suggest you go a little further and create an array of Post-Its. Or you can go even further (if you’re inclined toward playful risk-taking) and sculpt your ideas free-form with clay to see what comes out the other end.

(I suspect most of you feel comfortable with the first 2 suggestions, but a little...

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Putting Yourself Out There

Whenever you create something, you risk the vulnerability of exposure. What will they think? Do I look foolish? Who will they think I am? Who do I think I am? A flurry of self-doubt and anxiety arise with the prospect of sharing your creation.

This can be enough to stop us in our tracks. Better to remain safe than sorry.

I’m feeling this way right now. In building my new online business, The More Creative Therapist, I just created a free online mini-course to share with whoever might be interested. It's called More Creative in 5 Days (how's that for audacious?). I’m announcing sign-ups this week, and you know what? I feel scared! You know all those self-doubt questions I mentioned above? They’re running through my head right now!

Something about self-exposure makes you (among many things) a magnet for the strong feelings of others. We can never fully anticipate what our own creations will bring up. I got some negative feedback a while ago about a free offering on...

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It's in the Making

For some, imagination remains a mental exercise. Our minds are capable of conjuring vivid sights and sounds that can activate a range of emotions, including excitement and yearning. Remember a moment when you were engrossed in something you imagined? Perhaps you got so carried away in a daydream that only a rude interruption could bring you back to your everyday. That’s the power of imagination.

But as long as what we imagine remains a thought or an idea, it doesn’t really come to life. Creators give form to thoughts and ideas in order to make them real. That takes doing. And the doing usually involves making. That’s where we’re faced with the challenges of form and material. That’s where our commitment to our vision is tested. And that’s where most of the learning happens: finding out what we do and don’t know; the false starts and failures; the new tools, materials, and methods.

Everything comes together in the doing, in...

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The Imperfectionist

creative doing obstacles May 28, 2018

I used to be a perfectionist, and it was much harder to be creative then. I struggled then as an art student and as a fledgling designer. I lived in a constant state of anxiety and fear, always afraid of being harshly judged by others, while being my own worst critic. I thought if I could out-criticize everyone else, I’d somehow be protected. It just made me uptight, and often my creative impulses got stuck, or worse, frozen. Paralysis was my way out. And while it let me off the hook, it also kept me from finishing what I started. Or even getting started at all.

Has this been true for you?

I think perfectionism gave me a way to justify my sense of failure. By telling myself that my high standards were a testament to excellence and integrity, I was able to moralize my insecurity. It just made me more defensive.

I’m not sure how or when things changed. Gradually I think, but there were some key shifts.

I stopped taking myself so seriously. I took the work seriously, but...

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