The Writing and Creative Process Group


2nd Friday of the month, 2pm-3:30pm
2nd Thursday of the month, 11:20am-12:20pm
115 E 9th Str., 12P, NYC
$75/ month. Group is ongoing & open for new members. All creative practitioners are welcome!

Dr. Kavaler-Adler has led writing and creative process groups in her practice for more than twenty-two years in a twenty-eight year psychoanalytic psychotherapy practice. Her groups are unique in that they serve a dual role. They not only help participants receive feedback with actual writing and other creative projects, or with professional writing; but they also serve a therapeutic role in helping participants to gain insight into obstacles and blocks that are prohibiting them from doing the writing (or painting, or acting, or dancing, etc.) that they have always dreamed of doing.

Anyone who wishes to write can participate in this group. However, group membership is limited to six people, so that three out of six can get individual 30 minute turns during every group, on a group rotation basis. Those on a waiting list can be admitted to the group if the group's six places are currently filled. Also, individual consultations are available on writing projects or on the writing process or the creative process itself.

All kinds of writing and creativity are welcome. Members of Dr. Kavaler-Adler's writing groups have worked on poetry, plays, memoirs, fiction, short stories, novels, non-fiction books, professional journal articles and professional books, and on dissertations and psychoanalytic institute papers, etc. Sometimes it is only within the group itself that the individual finds which kind of writing they are truly interested in. A new sense of curiosity and intrigue can open up within the course of the group itself, as an "in the moment" experience emerges when the individual speaks to the group about his/her feelings and thoughts. They speak of long frustrated yearnings to write (create). They examine their conflicts around their wishes to write (create). They define the obstacles, resistances, and blocks that result from these conflicts, which left undefined had been holding them back. Through such "in the moment" experience and insight in the group, each group member learns how writing only becomes alive and offers pleasure to the writer when the writing process is one of "in the moment" opening up, as opposed to transferring some mental agenda onto the page (or computer screen). The writing group process can mirror the writing process in terms of the "in vivo" experience and effects.

Members of these groups also get to know each other in depth, learning about each others' biography and of the personal struggles that each person faces as they deal with fears of exposing self expression. "In the beginning was the word," is said in the Bible, and it is truly a life giving process when the individual finds the "word," the apt words to express the deeper life that lies within them, including all the frustration and rage that they have had to keep secret. Now they can find new words and metaphors to express all the most poignant, tragic, and mundane aspects of life. As writing group members share this journey of the inner soul and spirit together, they open up to the resonant tune of others who are exposing themselves. They also find that the personal scripts they carry with them (often unconsciously), related to early dramas and deprivations with their childhood parents.

All writing group members have poignant and distinct stories about what holds them back as creative and "in the moment" evolving human beings. They hear each others stories and feel empathy and compassion. They then have to learn to have empathy and compassion for themselves. They see themselves in the stories of others. They are able to decipher the unique human being speaking to them in the group. As they get to know the others in the group they become increasingly free to offer critiques of the others work and to offer observations about the psychological dynamics that both propel and inhibit the other. They adopt certain understanding from Dr. Kavaler-Adler, the group leader, who is a writer and published author herself. This enables them to see how resistances to feeling and defining anger, loss, tenderness and vulnerability can all inhibit love. They learn also that love is required for creativity to emerge. Often the mourning process is part of opening up each writing group member's creative process. Mourning involves facing painful feelings of rage, anger, shame, envy, and loss, so that the defenses against these feeling states can be relinquished, freeing up the avenues to the progressive life expression of love and creativity. Every group member speaks about the internal mother they carry with them in a psychological sense, and reaches out to the group to provide certain nurturing mother capacities, such as those of offering recognition and affirmation. Then the negative aspect of the internal mother can be surrendered.

For an article on the evolving mother biography of each person in one of Dr. Kavaler-Adler's writing group, you may be interested in reading her article in Group (1993), Vol. 16 (1): 47-58, entitled "An Object Relations View of Creative Process and Group Process.

Another article of Dr. Kavaler-Adler's on her psychoanalytic psychotherapy writing group, as it can interact with participation in her therapeutic mourning group appeared in Issues in Group Psychotherapy, in 2000, Fall, Vol. 4 (1). It is entitled, Anatomy of Regret and Reparation: Resolution of Transference Resistances Through the Combined Use of a Writing and Creative Process Group and a Mourning Regrets Group.

Writing and creativity can be a lonely process. The psychoanalytic psychotherapy writing group of Dr. Kavaler-Adler helps a lonely process to become a shared one. Capacities for new forms of intimacy develop in this group as intimacy between members develops and forges new ground. Trust can develop in a group that meets over time, with a small group membership.

This dramatically differs from writing workshops and writing classes. Often members have come to Dr. Kavaler-Adler's writing groups who have been wounded by experiences in writing workshops and classes. Short-term workshops and classes do not allow time for individual participants to discuss their subjective experience or any of their free feelings and thoughts as they struggle with their own process. In contrast to this supportive psychotherapeutic writing group, in writing classes there is only time to read a work in progress and to get feedback from others who are essentially strangers. In an atmosphere of strangers rather than intimates, cutting and callous attacks can sometimes take place in the guise of constructive criticism. The wounds that result can never be discussed in such workshops or classes.

In Dr. Kavaler-Adler's writing group, everyone can respond to those offering them feedback and critiques. There is time for each person to express what most moves them in a piece, not just offering technical advice. There is time for each member to relate what moves them in the current presenter's piece to who that person is, as they have come to know this person. After a period of getting to truly know the presenter, they can help the presenting group member to understand what they may wish to express, beyond what the presenter is aware of. If anyone's feedback feels hurtful and fails to be constructive criticism, or isn't taken as such, this can be discussed. The journey of the group evolves over time, as does the journey of each individual within the group.

Painters have also been successful using the format of this creative process group, presenting slides of paintings, and then discussing both the paintings and their own subjective state at the time of doing the painting with the members of the group. Another article describes one female painter's growth in self- integration and feminine self- development through her participation in Dr. Kavaler-Adler's creative process group, with others wishing to express themselves through writing. It is entitled, The Divine, the Deviant and the Diabolical: A Journey Through An Artist's Paintings During Her Participation in a Creative process Group: An Evolution of Developmental Mourning. This article appeared in The International Forum of Psychoanalysis (2000).

Those exploring other art forms would also be welcome. Dr. Kavaler-Adler herself is not only a writer and psychoanalyst, but also an Argentine Tango dancer and former dance therapist, who understands dancers in their creative process, as well as writers and painters. Dr. Kavaler-Adler participates in offering feedback to members in the group, as well as helping the communication process between members, and in addition using her psychoanalytic abilities to understand and interpret resistances, projections, and transferences, that may hold members back from fulfilling their paths of creative inspiration.