Counseling and psychotherapy can be helpful for many people, and support you in gaining more emotional health and access to your creativity.
Actor Claire Danes once made a wonderful comment about the value of this kind of self-exploration:
“My therapist gives me permission to accept that I’m human.”
See more of her quotes below, along with comments by other actors who have benefited from therapy – and some of the reasons – such as family issues – that lead people to make use of therapy, and become more in charge of their lives.
The photo above is Celeste and Perry Wright, played by Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgård, in the HBO series Big Little Lies.
This is a scene from one of their intense marriage-counseling sessions with Dr. Amanda Reisman, played by Robin Weigert – who notes “my father was quite a wonderful psychoanalyst, and his mother before him.”
She adds, “I had a wonderful therapist myself named Florence Falk, who I still check in with from time to time.”
From Big Little Lies Actress Robin Weigert on Therapy, Working With Nicole Kidman, and Celeste’s Plight By Maria Elena Fernandez, Vulture, March 19, 2017.
[An article notes Real-Life Therapists Love the ‘Big Little Lies’ Therapist – by Melissa Dahl, New York mag. Apr 1, 2017, posted on robinweigert.com.]
Actors, musicians and other artists explore “messy” emotions in their work.
Actor William H. Macy once commented,
“Nobody became an actor because he had a good childhood.”
Psychologist Cheryl Arutt agrees that is both a funny and a provocative remark.
She thinks that actors and other artists who are willing, in their creative work, to delve into the really “messy” feelings of being human (shame, devastations, disappointments, betrayals, traumas and more), probably have a relationship with those feelings.
And, she notes, “Creating art has always been a way to channel emotional intensity…
“If you are an artist, you are your instrument. The greater access you maintain to yourself, the richer and broader your array of creative tools.”
[From my article Emotional Health and Creative People.]
Psychologist Mihaela Ivan Holtz works with creative people in TV/Film, performing and fine arts.
She writes on her site about the values of counseling for creative people:
Creating or performing is what makes you feel alive, fulfilled, and in touch with who you really are. It gives your life meaning and purpose.
You know from deep in your soul that you are talented and skilled.
Yet, you find yourself feeling unhappy and stuck in issues that are not allowing you to be the true creative or performer that you are.
Emotional issues, creative blocks, anxieties, depression, or unfulfilling relationships are taking over – leaving you wondering if you can continue navigating the arts and the entertainment world and still become the creative and the performer that you want to be.
You know what you want! You want to have an impact on your audience.
You want to connect and be inspired by your audience.
You want to be seen, valued, and rewarded for the creative and the performer that you are.
Psychotherapy is a powerful transformative journey that can take you from feeling unhappy and stuck to living with emotional freedom as a fulfilled creative or performer.
See much more including many articles on her site Creative Minds Psychotherapy.
See more resources for gaining emotional health in the rest of this article, especially at the bottom.
Being highly sensitive (and many actors and performers are) can be part of the reason for emotional challenges.
Psychologist Elaine Aron, a researcher and author on high sensitivity, comments:
“You were very sensitive as a child; family and school problems, childhood illnesses, and the like all affected you more than others. Furthermore, you were different from other kids and almost surely suffered for that.”
Claire Danes recalls, “I did not perform well socially in junior high.
“I was a strange girl and I was in a lot of pain because of that, like most teenagers.”
At 6, Claire began treatment with a child therapist and started taking modern dance lessons.
An interviewer notes “Therapy helped calm her fears, and dance freed her body.”
“I took to dance immediately,” she said. “And that led to my fascination with acting.”
And in another article, I quote Danes about the value of therapy:
“My therapist gives me permission to accept that I’m human.”
From my article Emotional Health and Creative People.
That is such a great statement about one of the values of counseling and therapy – certainly part of what I have experienced with several psychologists in brief therapy sessions over the years.
Another perspective comes from actor Heather Graham:
“Acting is telling a story, and you’re part of telling that story.
“In some ways therapy helps more than acting class. You realize why you operate in certain ways.”
Bryce Dallas Howard has commented, “Therapy is awesome.
“My dad always said, ‘Do you want to know why actors get paid so much money? So they could have great therapists.’ ”
[Bryce Dallas Howard on Parenting and Getting Through Life: ‘Therapy Is Awesome’ 08/13/2015 PEOPLE.com/babies.]
She is also one of about 25 artists in an MSN.com slideshow article talking about what led them to make use of therapy.
Here are some excerpts from that article:
Bryce Dallas Howard has also waged a battle against mental illness.
Shortly after the 2007 birth of her first child, Bryce shared that she experienced “debilitating” postpartum depression that left her with what she describes as “emotional amnesia.”
In an essay she penned for Goop, Bryce talked about the difficult weeks following her son’s birth that included physical pain, exhaustion, anger and an overwhelming feeling of insecurity.
With the help of her midwife and a therapist, Bryce learned she had severe PPD and began treatment which included homeopathy and talking to others, as well as reading about Brooke Shields’ experiences with PPD in the actress’ memoir “Down Came the Rain.”
As Bryce continued working on her mental health, with the support of family and friends, she says things slowly got better and that one day, she “got this sudden feeling of summer,” which she later explained as “I just got this feeling… like everything is going to be okay.”
In 2017, Gabrielle Union published her memoir, “We’re Going to Need More Wine,” and in it were some powerful revelations.
Gabrielle, who’s married to NBA star Dwyane Wade, used her story to examine her own experiences with discrimination, family trauma and being raped at gunpoint at 19.
The actress said therapy was what helped her survive, explaining, “You need to find a way to talk about the darkest parts of your life.
“I’ve been in therapy for the last 25 years. Whatever path you need to take to heal, it’s the best one.”
Academy Award-winning actress Emma Stone is smart and talented and she’s also dealt with anxiety most of her life.
In 2017, she appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” where she admitted anxiety caused her numerous panic attacks as a child.
Emma told Stephen that by the time she was 7, her parents recognized her need for help and sent her to a therapist.
“I benefited in a big way from therapy,” she said.
Interestingly, Emma also believes that acting has therapeutic benefits.
“Improv helped me so much,” she said. “I still have anxiety to this day — [but] not panic attacks, knock on wood.”
Halle Berry isn’t new to therapy.
In fact, the longtime actress shared that she’s been in and out of therapy since she was “about 10 years old” to help her cope with an alcoholic father prone to abuse.
As an adult, Halle’s life continued to be difficult, especially after the demise of her first marriage to baseball star David Justice.
That toxic relationship, Halle told Ebony, “took away my self-esteem.
“It beat me down to the lowest of lows — the gum on the bottom of David’s shoe, that’s what I felt like.”
The pain of that experience is what led Halle back into a therapist’s office.
“I know it sounds cliche,” she said, “but you have to find a way to hold on.”
Jon Hamm is also a big believer in the restorative benefits of therapy.
In 2015, the actor checked himself into a 30-day treatment facility for alcoholism.
Jon later revealed in an interview with Mr. Porter’s The Journal that his weekly therapy sessions were “helpful” and that inpatient treatment was “…just an extended period of talking about yourself.
“People go for all sorts of reasons, not all of which are chemically related.
“But there’s something to be said for pulling yourself out of the grind for a period of time and concentrating on recalibrating the system.
“And it works.”
As these dynamic and talented artists indicate, there are a variety of personal, addiction, psychiatric and emotional health issues that can be addressed in counseling and therapy.
Another example: a magazine article noted Amanda Seyfried “sought therapy after getting drunk before her appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman back in 2012.
“Amanda says she decided to seek counseling after turning to alcohol to calm her nerves before the interview.”
She said: “It made it fun for me, but then I watched it and was like, ‘That is not what I want to promote about myself’.
She also commented, “I have a lot of anxiety that I’ve been struggling with my whole life. So I have been working through it. I’m terrified, but this is exactly what I wanted.”
Amanda admits that while her therapy sessions have helped with her stage fright, she still feels self-conscious.
Like many people who use the experience as a strategy to know themselves better, Maggie Gyllenhaal says she began therapy without a “specific, clear, rational thing” that made her start.
“But as soon as I did, everything in my life changed, almost immediately.”
“There’s another part of me working that isn’t the intellectual side – the unconscious – and that was not awake most of my life. Not actively.
“There were times when it would push through, but now I feel I’m really honoring it.”
From article Actors and therapy.
The kinds of more formal counseling and therapy mentioned in this article are clearly helpful for many creative people, but you might also benefit from life coaching and self-help approaches.
For example, psychologist and creativity coach Eric Maisel has many books and articles for helping creative people in addressing issues such as anxiety.
“We have our little linguistic tricks that help us avoid the experience of anxiety, but those same linguistic tricks keep us from doing the work that we hope to do and prevent us from achieving our goals.”
He lists “ten common linguistic tricks we pull to help mask our budding anxiety”
Read more in my article Scarlett Johansson and Eric Maisel on stage fright.
Therapist Sharon M. Barnes works with creative, sensitive, intense, intelligent people – and produces a home-study program to help teens and adults become “skilled experts in the Social-Emotional arena.”
Here is a short video with her comments: