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Therapy for Actors & PERFORMERS: Unlocking Emotional Depth

therapy for actors - feel better on camera

Acting is a craft that requires talent and a deep understanding of oneself and the human experience.

Aside from helping with obvious things like performance anxiety, it stands to reason that a therapist might be the ideal person to help you explore how therapy can be a transformative personal growth tool for actors, helping them enhance their skills and abilities on and off the stage.

I'm a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with nearly a decade of experience working in Los Angeles with writers, actors and other creative types. I'm a Certified Group Psychotherapist, a Clinical Director and a Clinical Supervisor and have enjoyed providing therapy for actors and other talented people in Los Angeles reach their potential. The research that I have studied highlights the importance of addressing the unique challenges of actors, such as anxiety due to erratic employment and identity conflicts, through specialized therapy approaches.

Prior to working as a therapist, I worked for 20 years in the Entertainment Industry with actors, managers bands and celebrities. This experience gave me a comprehensive funderstanding of the entertainment industry and the unique challenges professionals in the industry face.

My Approach To Working With ACtors and Creatives.

Acting is a study of character and emotion, requiring actors to step into the shoes of others, understand their motivations, and convey their emotional states and embodied sense of self. This intensely personal experience involves deeply exploring the characters' psychological backgrounds to portray their experiences and reactions authentically.

Actors and psychotherapists, in this sense, are students of human nature, the mind, and the life experiences of others. They both observe, analyze, and try to understand, on a personal level, the intricacies of human behavior and emotions in their work. Research and studies are quick to highlight that actors face distinct occupational risks and mental health challenges, making therapy a crucial tool for not only enhancing their performance but also for maintaining their overall well-being.

Therapy On The Road?

Musicians, performers, and actors are frequently required to travel, go on tour or film outside of Los Angeles. Research shows us that it's often helpful to stay in touch while on location or on the road, and at Oliver Drakeford Therapy, we're committed to make that happen using phone or telehealth / online services.

If you're curious about therapy for actors or working with an experienced therapist who has a deep understanding of creative people and performers, book a free consultation call with me, and see if we're a match.

The Psychology Of Actors.
did you know....

ACTORS ARE MORE CREATIVE.
  • According to this study, professional actors are 121% more compassionate than non-acting adults.

    • Openness is associated with characteristics like the need for a creative outlet and an inclination toward original and divergent thinking. Openness, along with Intellect, is identified as one of the most widely studied facets in research on creativity and creative individuals. It is considered a core component of the creative personality, particularly relevant in the field of acting.

  • The same study shows that professional actors show a 171% increase in fluency compared to non-acting adults.

    • ​Fluency is defined as an individual's capacity to rapidly generate a number of ideas within a set amount of time. This concept is part of the broader domain of divergent thinking, which is crucial in creative processes​.

ACTORS SHOW MORE SIGNS OF DEPRESSION

  • In this very old study,  actors show significantly more signs of depression than younger acting students. Oddly enough, these student actors were significantly more cheerful and optimistic than professional actors.

  • The same study showed that professional actors were significantly more shy and seclusive and had a greater tendency to withdraw from social contacts than student actors.

 

COMEDIANS ARE BOTH INTROVERTED AND EXTROVERTED

My office is centrally located in Los Angeles on Santa Monica Blvd, in the heart of West Hollywood.

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Five Ways Therapy For Actors Can Help Creative People.

Therapy in Los Angeles for actors and performers seems like a natural fit, but here are 5 ways therapy can help actors.

Navigating Emotional Layers: Therapy for Actors Seeking Depth in Performance.

Individual therapy often helps individuals access and understand their emotions more deeply. For actors, this can translate into a greater ability to tap into a wide range of emotions and portray them convincingly on screen or stage.

In my experience as a therapist in Los Angeles, I've observed a significant transformation in actors who initially found it challenging to express a diverse emotional range. Many, especially men, have been conditioned by societal norms that discourage the open expression of feelings. Through therapy, these actors have gradually learned to navigate and embrace their emotional depth, leading to more nuanced and compelling performances.

 

Regardless of our gender, we likely all heard messages like 'boys don't cry' and 'nice girls smile,' which all place unconscious limits on the range of emotions we think we are able to express. Therapy with a feelings-oriented therapist like myself can be incredibly liberating for performers.

feelings wheel for actors in therapy

Character Inside Out: Therapeutic Approaches to Deepen Character Understanding.

therapy for actors can help with self-understanding

Self-awareness is a cornerstone of great acting. Through therapy, actors can gain a deeper understanding of their own motivations, fears, and desires. This self-awareness translates into a better understanding of the characters they portray, enabling them to bring greater depth and complexity to their performances.

In my practice, I've seen a consistent pattern where actors who engage in self-exploration through therapy often experience a profound shift in their approach to roles. For instance, many actors who initially struggled with typecasting or felt limited in their emotional range have found that a deeper self-awareness opened up new avenues of expression. They report feeling more connected to diverse characters, moving beyond their usual repertoire to embrace roles that were once outside their comfort zone. 

 

Understanding yourself is an important part of empathy that often gets overlooked. Clearly, empathy has an inherent focus on the other person, but we have to understand the other person in a relationship to our 'Self'.

Center Stage Focus: Enhancing Actor's Presence and Concentration Through Therapy

Actors must be fully present at the moment when on stage or in front of the camera; along with this is the need for a felt sense of your body - what your arms, legs, and eyes are doing and how the camera or audience is perceiving them.

A common theme has emerged in my therapeutic work with actors: those who engage in insight-oriented depth work that I utilize often report a significant improvement in their stage and camera presence. They describe a heightened sense of awareness, not just of their own physicality but also of the space around them, leading to more engaging and dynamic performances.

Therapy helps actors sharpen their focus and develop the 'observing ego' that allows us to be present during a performance or audition while simultaneously being aware of the entire situation from a slightly removed perspective.

This heightened presence can elevate their acting to a new level of authenticity and allow for a greater on-stage or on-camera presence and embodied sense of self. 

a therapist can help actors with confidence and presence

Creativity Unleashed: Exploring the Unconscious for Artistic Expression in Acting.

theray can help actors tap into creativity

In Los Angeles, therapy for creative people is not at all uncommon and doesn't have to be about mental illness. Therapy encourages creative exploration and fosters a free flow of ideas; it allows exploration of blocks and blindspots that get in the way of our creative process.

From my experience working with performers and actors, there's a noticeable trend: those who embrace psychodynamic therapy often experience a renaissance in their creative expression. For instance, many actors who felt pigeonholed into certain types of roles have discovered, through therapy, new facets of their creativity. This has led them to explore a wider range of characters and genres, often surprising themselves and their audiences with the versatility and depth of their performances.

One of the best therapist lines for actors and creative people I share is that creativity springs from the unconscious mind. and that truly creative people tend to their unconscious. That means therapy is partly about developing a relationship with and noticing what our unconscious is communicating.

Resilience in the Spotlight: Managing Fame, Rejection, and Industry Stress for Actors.

The entertainment industry seems like a constant stream of rejection, or even worse, getting down to the final two or three for a role and then getting the bad news. Coming close to getting the part can sometimes feel even worse - that you are at the mercy of casting directors, producers, and other executives.

Therapy can equip actors and performers with coping mechanisms to deal with rejection and manage the stress associated with auditions, performances, and the industry's uncertainty.

One of the best therapy lines for actors I share is about uncertainty being the most intolerable of feelings for humans to carry, and we have to have more compassion for ourselves in times when outcomes are out of our zone of control.

a therapist for actors can help with anxiety

Therapy For Actors, Creatives, and Performers In Los Angeles and West Hollywood.

oliver drakeford family therapist in los angeles

A THERAPIST WHO GETS 'HOLLYWOOD'

As a therapist, I have worked with actors, writers, and musicians for nearly ten years. However, my previous career of managing and representing actors and singers, ranging from Hotel Café favorites to Grammy-winning household names, is sometimes even more helpful. The shared language and understanding of the industry, the pressures and stress that comes with it helps me connect deeply with creative types. 

Actors and performers work with clinicians and social workers all the time regarding their mental health concerns and, of course, work on everything from anxiety disorders to depressive disorders and performance anxiety. Other people come in and use their counseling sessions to discuss emotional well-being, life transitions, or other mental health concerns. 

I'm an experienced psychotherapist who works with adults, families, and couples. I work from a psychoanalytic perspective, which is a modality of therapy that works with unconscious processes, defenses, and self-understanding. It is the best type of therapy for actors and performers. Book a free consultation call with me here, and I'll happily answer any questions.

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