People who have not participated in mental health counseling often do not know what to expect during psychotherapy sessions. You might not be familiar with the different kinds of approaches, philosophies, and techniques used by mental health practitioners. Finding a counselor who is a “good fit” for you will make your psychotherapeutic process more effective.
Some counselors offer a free first session. This allows you to “shop around” and be selective. Become familiar with the counselor’s website and make a list of questions to ask during your initial email or telephone contact and first meeting.
You can think about mental health counseling as a personal journey with a beginning, a middle, and an end. You might not know where the journey will lead, what you might discover or encounter, or what you will learn. A good psychotherapist will accompany you during your journey, offering nonjudgmental caring, support, and guidance, and teaching new skills.
My method integrates humanistic psychology, family systems, and practical creativity.
Humanistic psychology supports your healing and personal growth by building on your strengths, focusing on meaning, potential, transformation, self-determination, resilience, motivation, talent development, competence, responsibility, and self-actualization. Client centered humanistic psychology provides a holistic (mind - body - spirit, individual - familial - social - physical - spiritual) view of the individual.
Humanistic psychology also studies creativity. Enhanced facility with creativity can contribute to successful life transitions and positive changes in everyday life. The creative process can be used to define problems, reflect on issues, incubate ideas, and implement solutions. Creativity is used by individuals who make positive changes in relationships, gain skills in parenting, succeed at school or work, contribute to innovation in business, or respond productively to crisis - such as successful adjustment to divorce.
Family systems thinking (sometimes referred to as marriage and family therapy) recognizes that each individual participates in multiple relationships. Individuals, couples, families, societies, schools, and work environments have patterns of behavior that influence individuals and are influenced by individuals. But, these patterns can be changed!
In general, with my clients, the psychotherapeutic process goes like this…
First, we will meet for a 50 minute free session during which you'll share information about issues that bring you to therapy. I'll ask questions about these issues to gain more understanding about your situation. I will explain what approaches would be the best for your issues. Then, we can decide whether to continue working together.
If we decide to go forward, I usually suggest making 4 weeks of appointments in advance so as to secure your appointment time. It's easier to remember a regular weekly time and you'll get into the rhythm of psychotherapeutic "flow" - where insights, pattern recognition, more awareness, and empowerment becomes a regular part of your life. If you are traveling or live outside of the Seattle area, we can utilize telemental health, meeting for online video conference sessions through Skype or icouch (also works with smart phones). Video conferencing can also work for many individuals in many different situations, including someone who is chronically ill, a parent who cannot leave home occasionally due to caring for a sick child, or individuals who do not want to struggle with rush hour traffic or the time required for a long commute. Video conferencing works well for folks who have busy schedules.
Some of our work together will involve looking at how your family of origin (parents, grandparents, siblings, etc.) and other significant past relationships contributed to your issues. We might explore major life events and traumas that could be having a lasting impact on you. Initially, your descriptions of family and events might be more intellectual. We would work towards gaining recognition of emotions that were involved and how your self concept was formed, integrating thinking and feeling. At the same time, you would learn skills to become more effective at coping with issues and events in your daily life.
Creativity is involved in that we will rewrite your life story so that the past does not rigidly determine and limit your present and your future. You will form a clear vision of how you want your life to be and make a plan on how to accomplish that, taking gradual steps to accomplish your goals.
Depending on what seems appropriate for you, as an individual, we might eventually use art making or sand tray, breathing exercises, visualization, or personal mythology - to gain insight and move towards your goals. These methods are usually used later, with the first few sessions devoted to me gathering information and gaining understanding of your life, accompanied by traditional "talk therapy" where I offer you nonjudgmental support, caring, and compassion. Psychotherapy can function as a container for your internal process, in that I will "hold" your experience so that you feel safe to explore, experience, understand, and take action.
Sometimes I recommend clients undertake certain kinds of "body work" that might include yoga, meditation, walking daily, massage, Chinese healing touch, or engagement in sports. The body/mind/spirit connection is powerful and body work can support, strengthen, and hasten your healing.
Again, this depends on the individual. Sometimes body work feels too similar to previous traumas and is not advisable until much later.
Sometimes I integrate care with your personal physician. I also sometimes recommend clients consult a naturopathic doctor as certain food allergies/sensitivities can strongly influence behavior, emotions, and sleep patterns.
Your care will be individualized for you because you are unique.
Depending on your situation and what you want to accomplish, we might work together weekly for 3 to 6 months to a year, and then schedule appointments every two weeks, then monthly, until you decide to conclude our work together. Of course, you can terminate psychotherapy at any time. This is your decision and a place for you to exercise power.
Generally, before clients conclude psychotherapy, we meet once to review the issues you came with and articulate what you've accomplished, how you've changed, and what your new goals are. The skills you learn in psychotherapy can be applied to challenges you encounter in the future. In a way, you will carry your own healer within you wherever you go - so that you will continue to heal and grow!
Your first free session will be 50 minutes. Usually, the 2nd appointment (the intake appointment) is 80 minutes long. Some clients prefer all appointments be 80 minutes long as longer appointments allow clients more time to bring up issues, explore issues more fully, experience and process painful emotions that might arise, find resolution, make action plans, and feel "finished." This is your decision and this decision will empower you.
I can bill insurance as an out-of-network provider. Whatever fees are not covered by insurance are then billed to you. Some clients use medical savings accounts to pay fees. Sometimes, fees count towards deductibles on insurance policies.
Billing insurance requires a diagnosis that will remain part of your permanent record. Some clients want to protect their privacy by not billing insurance. Sometimes clients do want the financial advantages of billing insurance. This will be your decision. Generally, if I do bill insurance, I give a "mild" diagnosis that is related to some transitory situation so that the client is not identified as severely or chronically mentally ill. These are important issues to consider and discuss with your psychotherapist.
The location of your psychotherapist's office can also affect confidentiality. Unfortunately, there is still social stigma attached to seeking mental health services - even though this is a sign of strength. If you want to avoid people knowing you are engaged in mental health counseling - and you do not want to meet people you might know in a psychotherapist's waiting room or parking lot, then select a counselor that has different entrances and exits for clients, no waiting room, and a parking lot that is shared with a variety of businesses. My private practice office has this kind of confidential location.
I hope all of this information is not too overwhelming. You can use the information I provided about my practice to formulate questions to ask counselors that you interview. As you select a psychotherapist and begin working together, keep asking questions about the process. If you express your needs clearly, you are more likely to get your needs met. If you understand the mental health counseling process, you can participate more fully.
If you have further questions or desire additional information, please feel free to contact me.
Take good care of yourself.
Kind regards, Dr. Benyshek
This PowerPoint lecture was presented by Dr. Benyshek at the 2011 conference of the International Society for Shamanistic Researchers, at the State Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw, Poland.
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Reprinted from AY Atelier Art: Transformative Gallery Online, and again featured on artist Lauren Raine's blog, Threads of the Spider Woman, this article defines who is a shamanic artist. Also addressed are the social, psychological, physiological, and spiritual benefits of experiencing art, as the creating artist, as a member of the art audience, or as an art collector. Finally, Dr. Benyshek shares a few sources of inspiration.
Ceylan Hulya M.A. and Lisa Rasmussen M.F.A, directors of AY Atelier Art and Art 4 All People were delighted and intrigued to interview the artist/psychologist/researcher Dr. Benyshek, about shamanistic art and process. We thank Denita for her amazing art, wisdom, and insights. All of us at AY Atelier are excited to release Denita’s portfolio, as an example of transformative art.
Dr. Benyshek provided an integrated and inspired response to our questions. As her answers grew and developed, she created the following article (addressing who is a shamanic artist, the benefits of experiencing art as the creating artist, as a member of the art audience, or as an art collector .
Sounds like the Muse was at work! Enjoy the interview and article. As always we encourage you to add to the conversation, please make comments below.
The Transformative Power of Shamanic Art
© 2013, Denita Benyshek
Several years ago, I participated in a shamanic drum ceremony given by the anthropologist, Dr. Ruth-Inge Heinze. Her powerful, sustained drumming gave me a vivid, astounding, and meaningful series of visions. The progression of the visions and the symbolic content of the visions were similar to what I experienced during artistic creativity. As I learned more about the calling, training, initiation, and practices of shamans, I recognized more and more similarities to my own artistic way of being. In shamanism, I found a model of how and why I make art.
Although I am formally trained as an artist (with both a BFA and an MFA in painting), I was so fascinated by the multiple relationships between artists and shamans, including the intent to heal, that I pursued a graduate certificate in the psychology of creativity, a masters degree in marriage and family therapy, and then a doctoral degree in humanistic and transpersonal psychology.
What is a Shamanic Artist?
My research (Benyshek, 2013a, 2013b, 2013c, 2013d) demonstrated how contemporary artists serve as shamans. Shamanic artists are socially designated spiritual practitioners who voluntarily regulate their attention for the purpose of obtaining information generally unavailable to their community, which is used for the benefit of communities and individual members of those communities. All of these properties must be fulfilled for an artist to fully qualify as a shaman.
Continue reading the article at AY Atelier Art: Transformative Gallery Online or Threads of the Spider Woman.
Expressive arts therapist Loral Lee Portenier is researching the integration and bidirectional influence of creativity and spirituality in women. In Portenier's (2012) recent essay, Creative Expression and Spirituality, she wrote:
"Both spirituality and creativity are often regarded as significant parts of human existence and have the potential to enhance one’s sense of wellbeing. One form of creativity is the expressive arts, which include dance, music, writing, and painting, and are utilized therapeutically to foster physical and psychological healing and enhance insight and wellbeing. This essay looks specifically at the expressive modalities of ritual, labyrinth, mandala, dance, and writing as having the potential to facilitate exploration of one’s spirituality, specifically that of rural midlife women."
The inspiring essay may be read online or downloaded at:
Portenier, L. L. (2012). Creative Expression: One Approach to Spirituality. Saybrook University.
San Francisco, CA. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/2344357
A graphic illustration of how psychopathology, in shamans and artists, can be associated with the creative process and potentially transformed into mental health through social support and other moderating factors (apprenticeship, initiation, learning how to control primary process, study and practice of spiritual traditions, engaging alternate state of consciousness, trusting intuition, etc.).
You may click on the figure to view a larger image.
Figure 22. Patterns of psychopathology and mental health affected by social support in shamans, creators, and artists.
"Opinions of researchers have varied widely with regard to the mental health of shamans, generally polarized into shamans being mentally ill or shamans being mentally healthy. One rigorously designed study (van Ommeren et al., 2004) found the shamans in one refugee group to be as mentally healthy or more mentally healthy than the other members of the community. Another study (Stephen & Suryani, 2000) of a different population of shamans found that, from the medical etic perspective, shamanic candidates qualified as mentally ill; yet, after training and initiation, the same individuals were deemed mentally healthy with psychotic features still evident. Moreover, the shamans had gained control of the psychosis, using it voluntarily in their shamanic practices."
"Importantly, because shamans appear to have a different mental illness-mental health trajectory and outcome, shamans may comprise a unique category of creativity that is different from most artists, eminent creators, clinical populations, and everyday creativity. This unique category might be due to established traditions of social support as set out in Figure 22."
From: Benyshek, D. (2012). An archival exploration comparing contemporary artists and shamans. PhD, Saybrook University, San Francisco, CA.
Available at: Denita Benyshek, PhD, MFA on Academia.Edu
Stephen, M., & Suryani, L. K. (2000). Shamanism, psychosis and autonomous imagination. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 24, 5-40.
van Ommeren, M., Komproe, I., Cardeña, E., Thapa, S. B., Prasain, D., de Jong, J. T., & Sharma, B. (2004). Mental illness among Bhutanese shamans in Nepal. Journal of Nervous Mental Disorders, 4, 313-317.
A remarkable synthesis and organization! You can go through the models and charts, assessing where you excel and selecting what features you'd like to develop.
42 Models of Creativity by Richard Tabor Greene
Creativity is a dynamic process in which “creators think, feel, experience, motivate and direct themselves, and behave related to the generation of original and meaningful creative outcomes” (R. Richards, 1999b, p. 733), requiring certain kinds of cognition (Guilford, 1967; Runco & Sakamoto, 1999; Russ, 1993; Ward, Smith, & Finke, 1999), personality traits (Sternberg, 1985), and motivation (Amabile, 1983; Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). The creative process can result in adaptation and regeneration (R. Richards, 2000-2001), self actualization (Maslow, 1971), or a fulfillment of human potential (May, 1975), which can be expressed through an individual, society, or culture (Csikszentmihalyi, 1994, 1996; Csikszentmihalyi & Sawyer, 1995; Simonton, 1988).
The category creativity was divided into a number of sets and subsets by different researchers proposing related yet somewhat different models. Kaufman and Beghetto (J. C. Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009) recognized that creativity was typically dichotomized into everyday creativity and high C creativity. These two categories are the most fully developed and widely accepted concepts of creativity within the field of psychology and the subfield of creativity studies. Some of the categories and subcategories, used by researchers in their studies of creativity, are set out in the table below.
The discussion regarding different types of creativity continues below the table.
You may click on the table to see a larger image.
Everyday creativity includes a wide span of creative endeavors. For R. Richards (1999a), everyday creativity includes “the creative person or creative outcome (products, ideas, or behaviors) that involve day-to-day activities at work and during leisure time. These are characterized both by originality… and meaningfulness to others” (p. 683).
Everyday creativity is a “survival capability – representing the ‘phenotypic plasticity’ that allows humans to adapt to changing environments – and a humanistic force in ongoing growth, personal development, and even transcendence” (R. Richards, 1999a, p. 684).
As a set, everyday creativity can be divided into subsets. These subsets distinguish points on the spectrum of creativity. Everyday creativity is a broad category reaching beyond leisure activities and “extend[ing] from mini-c to little-c through Pro-c” creativity (Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009, p. 6), including middle C creativity as well.
Low C creativity.
Low C creativity is “exemplified by original transformations in small products, thoughts, or expressions. Examples might be a satisfying flower arrangement or a humorous play on words” (Morelock & Feldman, 1999, p. 449).
Middle C and Pro-c creativity.
Middle C creativity results in “products appreciated in terms of interpretive skill, mastery of technical forms, distinctive style, and success in achieving a technical, practical, commercial, or academic goal” (Morelock & Feldman, 1999, p. 449). Middle C creativity is likely to be seen in traditional arts where less value is placed on originality and more value is associated with perpetuating a traditional art form as a means of sustaining and supporting traditional culture. Middle C creativity also “refers to creativity in the expression of professional expertise. It is about creative products appreciated for interpretive skill, mastery of technical terms, distinctive style and success in achieving a technical, practical, commercial or academic goal” (Mann & Chan, 2011, p. 7).
Middle C creativity “includes creative acts that have substantial social impact beyond the creative agents’ immediate circle of acquaintances, but which do not transform entire fields or subfields” (Harrington, 2004, p. 180), and generally limited in effect to one organization or a modest sized community (Moran, 2009).
Pro-c creativity, similar to middle C creativity, is a level of professional expertise that is not domain transforming. “Anyone who attains professional-level expertise in any creative area is likely to have attained Pro-c status” (Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009, p. 5). Generally, 10 years of training, formal or informal apprenticeship, being mentored, and ongoing practice is required to attain pro-c status.
Middle C and pro-c categories of creativity define sets of individuals that make “solid, professional creative contributions” (Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009, p. 5), but are not eminent creators or geniuses.
High C Creativity and Eminent Creativity
High C creativity or eminent creativity, including the realms of geniuses and eminent creators, involves a “unique reorganization of knowledge resulting in substantial new contributions to bodies of knowledge. Some rare human beings produce creative contributions that are so significant that they utterly transform a domain of knowledge” (Morelock & Feldman, p. 449).
Although we often limit our idea of creativity to geniuses and artists, creativity can be applied in almost any endeavor, relationship, hobby, career, cooking, vacation planning, homemaking, teaching, playing, inventing, scientific research, volunteering, running a business, or engaging in a change process. The creative process can assist with life transitions such as divorce, helping to build a new life out of the rubble of marriage. Knowledge of creativity can enhance healthy relationships between parents and children and improve the productivity of organizations.
Denita Benyshek, Ph.D., M.F.A.
This article is an excerpt from An Archival Exploration Comparing Contemporary Artists and Shamans (Benyshek, 2012).
Amabile, T. M. (1983). The social psychology of creativity. New York, NY: Springer.
Benyshek, D. (2012). An exploration of contemporary artists as shamans. Ph.D., Saybrook University, San Francisco, CA.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1994). The domain of creativity. In D. Feldman, M. Csikszentmihalyi & H. Gardner (Eds.), Changing the world: A framework for the study of creativity (pp. 135-158). New York, NY: Praeger.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York, NY: Praeger.
Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Sawyer, K. (1995). Creative insight: The social dimension of a solitary moment. In R. Steinberg & J. Davidson (Eds.), The nature of insight (pp. 329-363). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Guilford, J. P. (1967). The nature of human intelligence. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Harrington, D. M. (2004). Creativity. In A. Kuper & J. Kuper (Eds.), The social science encyclopedia: A - K (3rd ed., pp. 180-182). New York, NY: Routledge.
Kaufman, J. C., & Beghetto, R. A. (2009). Beyond big and little: The four C model of creativity. Review of General Psychology, 13(1), 1-12.
Mann, L., & Chan, J. (2011). Introduction. In L. Mann & J. Chan (Eds.), Creativity and innovation in business and beyond: Social science perspectives and policy implications (pp. 1-14). New York, NY: Routledge.
Maslow, A. (1971). The farther reaches of human nature. Big Sur, CA: Esalen books.
May, R. (1975). The courage to create. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co.
Moran, S. (2009). What role does commitment play among writers with different levels of creativity? Creativity Research Journal, 21(2, 3), 243-257.
Morelock, M. J., & Feldman, D. H. (1999). Prodigies. In M. A. Runco & S. R. Pritzker (Eds.), Encyclopedia of creativity (Vol. II, pp. 449-456). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Richards, R. (1999b). Four P's of creativity. In M. A. Runco & S. R. Pritzker (Eds.), Encyclopedia of creativity (Vol. I, pp. 733-742). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Richards, R. (1999b). Four P's of creativity. In M. A. Runco & S. R. Pritzker (Eds.), Encyclopedia of creativity (Vol. I, pp. 733-742). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Richards, R. (2000-2001). Creativity and the schizophrenia spectrum: More and more interesting. Creativity Research Journal, 13(1), 111-132.
Runco, M. A., & Sakamoto, S. O. (1999). Experimental studies of creativity. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of creativity (pp. 62-92). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Russ, S. W. (Ed.). (1993). Affect and creativity: The role of affect and play in the creative process. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Simonton, D. K. (1988). Scientific genius. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Sternberg, R. (1985). Implicit theories of intelligence, creativity, and wisdom. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 607-627.
Ward, T., Smith, S., & Finke, R. (1999). Creative cognition. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of creativity (pp. 189-212). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
A basic overview of the characteristics, needs, and challenges of students who are gifted and/or talented, prepared by Lisa Cook, Rebecka Jones, Shannon Saenz, and Angela Titus.
Recommended reading and additional resources are provided.
The PowerPoint will appear when you click on the title of the blog.
Dr. Benyshek is a devoted psychotherapist and marriage counselor, a professional artist, and an internationally renowned researcher on contemporary artists as shamans.