By Alumna Holly Daniels, PhD, LMFT
As a private practice therapist, Holly incorporates narrative, behavioral and transpersonal modalities and believes that healing involves reconnection to ourselves, to others, to Spirit and to nature. In her role as Clinical Outreach Director at Sober College, Holly integrates her complex clinical expertise with her passions for connecting people and spreading the word that recovery, health and wholeness can be exciting and fulfilling.
This Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) examines the lived experiences of 6 professional creative artists who had previously struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, found successful treatment, and gone on to lead healthy, sober, emotionally well lives while still producing and performing their art. The 6 creative professionals reported that authentic and successful creative effort was enhanced, not diminished, by sobriety and abstinence from drug and alcohol use.
Participants reported that drug and alcohol use was normalized in their creative cultures, and that using drugs and alcohol created an internal state that this researcher termed pseudo-flow, which granted momentary relief from their emotional discomforts and anxieties.
All participants reported that they were able to find authentic flow, emotional balance, and more success in their creative efforts once achieving sobriety. This study includes guidelines for mental health professionals regarding best practices for treating creative professionals who struggle with addiction issues.
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Holly Daniels is a licensed therapist, meditation teacher, and mental health advocate. After earning her degree in clinical psychology, Holly worked for many years as a primary therapist at several premier treatment centers in southern California, where she specialized in treating those with complex issues including co-occurring addictions, eating disorders, PTSD, and associated mood and anxiety disorders.