Third Tuesday of the month, September through June, 7:30 PM
3715 Alton Place, NW, Washington, DC 20016

Our group views creativity as a capacity that is integral to being human, although the ability to express that creativity may be developed to differing degrees. Our readings have built up a body of thinking about creativity that draws on classical, self psychological, and relational theories. The group shares some responsibility for suggesting topics and readings related to these issues, and collaborates in inviting researchers and artists to join us to discuss their process.

Members who attend this study group will be able to:

1) View If I Forget, a play by Steven Levinson about a family’s differing ways of dealing with the heritage of the holocaust.

  1. Analyze the transgenerational transmission of trauma, describe the resources that the characters demonstrated in coping with the sequelae of the holocaust.
  2. Apply the experiences of the characters to examples from our practice.

2) Read Jessmyn Ward’s Sing Unburied Sing.

  1. Discuss the effects of incarceration on all members of the family of the incarcerated.
  2. List resources that we, as mental health practitioners, might bring to the national discussion of this problem, in light of Greg Berman’s book Start Here: A Road Map to Reducing Mass Incarceration.

3) Attend the Rachel Whiteread exhibit at the National Gallery of Art.

  1. Discuss the emotional impact of this artist’s use of negative space as subject matter for sculpture.
  2. Compare parallels between this and the negative space of therapy in which what, by not being spoken, takes up space in the hour.

4) Hear poems and presentation by Mary Azreal, poet and co-editor of Passager, a literary journal devoted to the work of older poets.

  1. List ways in which the principles from Gene Cohen’s The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life apply to the life and poems of those writers whose work is published in the journal.
  2. Describe how your increased awareness of the creative potential in older patients might affect the way you practice.

5) View The Trial of Joan of Arc and other films that use Transcendental Style, as explicated by Paul Schrader in his book Transcendental Style in Film/ Ozu, Bresson and Dreyer.

  1. Discuss how focus on the quotidian in both TS movies and in therapy leads to the questioning of the apparent.
  2. Describe other parallels between this art form and what may be experienced in the self/relational style of psychotherapy.

6) View The Rider, a film — part documentary, part fiction — in which the protagonist plays a version of himself, a man who has suffered a traumatic injury , about which you can check this link that leaves him unable to do what he most loves.

  1. Discuss the possible effect on the actor of portraying a version of himself on film in light of Ringel’s article The Role of the Creative Process in Holding and Facilitating Traumatic Experience.
  2. Create ways to engage the creative process in therapy for patients dealing with traumatic injury. If you are involved in an accident and are wondering what to do after an auto accident, you may contact an experienced lawyer who can help you out.

7) Attend one of Bill T Jones/Arne Zane’s Dance performances, each of which is based on dealing with a different traumatic experience.

  1. Apply the insights from Press’s chapter about Jones in The Dancing Self to the performance.
  2. Discuss ways in which the therapeutic process facilitates the reconstruction of memory as The New York Times sees these dances as “a fine physical metaphor for the reconstruction of memory.”.

8) View art and hear commentary on a lifelong artistic career by an abstract artist, Lois Eby. He

  1. Compare her description of her experience of self-expression to D. H. Lawrence’s in his essay Making Pictures.
  2. Apply Kohut’s theories on healthy narcissism to the role of creativity in the development of a sense of self.

9) Share some of the results of our own creative process.

  1. Describe the way each of us – as creator or appreciative spectator – feels enhanced by the process or product of the artist’s creation.
  2. Apply insights from Between Aesthetics, the Coconstruction of Empathy, and the Clinical, by Hagman and Press.

10) Read James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between The World and Me.

  1. Compare the ways in which each author’s personal history affects the perspective of and advice given to a younger Black son or nephew.
  2. Discuss the effects of racism on both black and white adolescent clients.

11) Read the autobiography The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya.

  1. Apply Rothchild’s theories about trauma to Wamariya’s experience.
  2. Discuss the potential for healing as well as the potential for retraumatization in Wamariya’s experience of writing and subsequent telling and retelling her story.