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Mental Notes
Musings on creativity, psychology and living better

Holding the Rainbow

Friday, May 9 8:32 AM

I have a great pokerface. It has come in handy many-a-times: when my first fist fight broke out in my Boston middle school classroom, when a patient laughed and told me I had no sense of rhythm, when applying for internships. Stoicism, confidence, and unflappability was what made a good therapist, would get me an internship gig right? So said the traditional texts, in terms of the neutral, blank canvas therapist. But...I do not think my neutrality was what secured my internship placements. In fact, as a creative arts therapist, this should not be the case at all. No matter who the therapist is, we bring ourselves into a room, with our rainbow of desires, thoughts, and feelings.

Certainly, those aren’t all expressed in a session to our clients. What we express and share directly with clients as creative arts therapists is the world of imagination and art-making, of creativity. It isn’t all rainbows in this world. There are clouds, rain, wind, and messy wetness that comes with the storm as well. Poker face or not, when called to create with a client, to embody the role, for example, of ‘the fearful one’, ‘the sorry one’, ‘the shameful one’, the poker face must melt in order to hold the needs of the client in an attempt to move to a place of clearer skies using our own creative bodies.

I did not know all of these things at the beginning of my internship as a therapist in training. This realization has come through my own passage through the storm, though at first I may have been sure I could coast comfortably along the rainbow. I have experienced being lost in the clouds, where there is doubt. In the rain, my tears came. Tears of frustration, of sadness, of not-enoughness. Later, when skies broke, but the ground was still wet, I would learn that my not-enoughness was enough in being good-enoughness. The ‘good-enough’ therapist intern.

While I moved through arcs of treatment with clients, I moved through my own arcs as well. In ways, these informed my work with clients. With time I relaxed more, I played more. I allowed parts of myself to come into the therapy room, if i felt that they would serve my client. What pieces of me could deepen each relationship? Connecting through creativity is to truly meet as human beings, so unique from other species in our capacity to make art, create newness, use metaphor and imagination. There is a deep intimacy in the process, great joy, and unexpected emotions hidden within the rainbow of the creative journey.

As I come to the end of my rainbow of internship, what does my pot hold? A lot. In fact it’s overflowing! There’s a ton of experience, and wrapped in that is a heap of gratitude, a pound of unanswered questions, a lump of sadness, and a load of love. Like a rainbow, my internship was brilliant, but ephemeral. Like a rainbow, my relationships with clients will not return, but their impact will be remembered. Perhaps most importantly, I will try and remember that without the rain, the colors in the arc of the rainbow cannot be illuminated.