Interview with Karen Andrews, Creativity Coach
How long have you been a Coach for Creative People?
I’ve been in a training for 2 yrs, am close to certification. But for about 20 years I’ve been guiding, facilitating, mediating, leading NVC groups, teaching various methods and have often worked with highly creative individuals and groups.
How did you become an expert at Creativity?
I was always fascinated by the creative process – what artists see, how they think, how they translate their inner landscape to the page, whether in paint or in words or another medium.
My major was Art History at Oberlin College in the 70’s and it was very strong in contemporary art.
RIght after college, after looking at so much art, I picked up a camera and became a photographer for a few years.
Later, I wanted to learn how to paint, so I took up watercolor, which is my main creative outlet at present.
For ten years, I was involved in creating and managing an art studio complex where we rented space to artists, photographers, dancers and musicians. I got to interact and play with many different kinds of artists and learned about their way of working first-hand.
I am now a working, struggling artist myself, and have been producing, presenting and selling my work for several decades. In addition to all the outer work, I've grappled with my own gremlins, fear, shame, inadequacies internally. I became sort of a “process queen” for my own sanity and growth. I studied and practiced (and eventually shared and taught and led) many super powerful techniques for getting a handle on scattered energies, fear, anxiety (all different varieties) procrastination and the creative process itself. I tend to be a very self-observant person and live in process. I've had to live with depression, chemical sensitivities and other interpersonal sensitivities. A recent theory calls us "Orchid people", those who are blessed (or cursed) with extra sensitivities. I needed to develop a large toolkit for navigating the world.
I am particularly interested in how people, once they clear their distressed thinking and break out of their constrained beliefs, they can change their lives and maybe even change the world!
Helping unleash creativity wherever it is bound fits in with my deeper soul purpose to help us put our energies to positive good, collective well-being, more joy, more community and certainly more wonderful art.
Who are your clients?
Mostly middle aged women, actually, but they could be men or they could be younger people just getting started in a creative field. I work with visual artists, writers, playwrights and directors, filmmakers, and creative business people. I also have had clients, such as new empty nesters who always felt creative, but are not sure where to put their energies now.
How are you different from other life coaches?
It isn't unlike life coaching for the artist, but it really is focused on getting free of whatever is in your way of finding your voice, doing your work day to day, and understanding how to work with your creative process. Artists tend to live unusual lives, not a boiler plate existence. They don't just follow a road less traveled, they often have to build the road. They may live outside of the conventional economy and they have a lot of things working against them that have to be seen and put in perspective. Artists can be very vulnerable and childlike, and their struggles can mimic emotional illness. So coaching can seem a little like therapy at times, in that we might touch on emotional issues and their origins, but only to figure out how to use them as fuel, or how to get to work anyway.
What kind of personality do you work with best?
I think I can be most effective with people who are really ready to move to a different level, and have just had enough with how things have been going, the way things feel stuck and know that they are up against a wall. My clients know that they have to do something different to get past this wall, so they are now open to something they might not have considered in the past, such as letting themselves be coached. So it isn't so much personality as the stage that they are at and their willingness and courage to change. But I also like to work with people who are extremely honest -- with themselves and with me -- and who are able to self-reflect and self-observe.
What kind of personality of client do you not work well with?
Well, people who are in the habit deluding themselves and who just want someone else to fix them can be tough for me. I appreciate anyone who attempts to change anything in their life or personality, because it's hard, hard work. But I can't fight fixed patterns or "parts" of a person that just resist change at every stage.
How do you work? What can I expect?
I like to think I am gentle but powerful.
I work very efficiently, and if you are willing, we can go in pretty deep at times. Do expect to have some profound shifts in perspective and to go through a period of unfamiliarity as your habitual patterns of thought and behavior shift. You will have new insights. You may want additional support during this time ( an extra psychotherapy session every so often) . I tend to work with people on several levels at once.
So practically speaking, let's say we embark on a 3-month program. We will set up a full hour phone or skype session every other week for sure, and then we can add in additional phone chats of up to 10 to 15 minutes at other times, plus frequent emails. I find email fits better into creative peoples' busy schedules, and in writing out answers to questions, we have automatic accountability and new thinking. At the beginning of a coaching relationship, as habits are changing, I offer close attention to keep you in this new trajectory. It's easy to slip back into old habits, and i feel the first three months is the most critical time.
Can I sign up with you for just one session?
Of course you can, but i do recommend at least a 3 session series to make any kind of permanent shift.
Does this really work?
Every client I have worked with has told me how much they have gotten out of our sessions. I would bet you won't feel exactly the same as when you came in.
At the very least, you will probably get some new insights and receive some accountability around a project or practice that you'd been unable to get much traction with on your own. You may also experience a huge shift, as if a boulder that seemed to be standing in your way permanently just dissolved and you're not "in Kansas anymore.". Each of the tools I use can be quite potent and life-changing. I often employ a few modalities and work on several different levels over time.
Why do I need you? Can’t I just do this on my own?
Not to sound snarky, but how well has this worked so far? Having a coach, especially for an area as amorphous and uncharted as creativity can be like having a flashlight in a dark cave. Certainly you can try to feel your way around in the dark, and hope you find you way.
Creativity Coaching is a partnership dedicated to your development, your growth, your functioning, your fulfillment. It takes some time, a strong commitment to yourself, and an investment of some money. But if you continue the way you're going, perhaps a bit lost, wasting your talents, not putting your voice and vision out there, where will be you in a year? Five years? Ten years? It's helpful to briefly visit your "default future" if you continue on the trajectory you are currently on.
Compare that to making sure you have the support your need to get where you want to be, have the life you want, have the creative fulfillment you crave, and make the money you deserve to make from your creative enterprises.
I am really busy and overwhelmed. How much time is involved before I get results?
As a fellow creative, I understand the need to maximize time. That's why I like to work in a flexible way: through a combination of phone, skype and email. Actually emailing can be very efffective, as it creates instant accountability, it's swift, to the point and can fit into your full life. In terms of seeing results, I would suggest signing on for a minimum of 3 sessions, about two weeks apart. We can work on setting very succinct goals and you can get a taste for how it works.
That being said, our patterns and what got us where we are today took a long time, and it can take time to unravel these same patterns and "install" some more effective ones. Ideally, sign up for a 3-month package and trust the process.
I’ve never invested in myself like this before. How can I justify this expense?
I understand the hesitancy, and it can seem frivolous. It could get you to a place you'd only dreamed of being, and what would that be worth to you? What is it costing you in terms of missing out on the satisfaction, joy and fulfillment you know you want from your creativity.
Is there a way to sample a session and see what our chemistry is like?
Actually the way I work, we will first "meet" on the phone or skype, for about a half hour, free of charge. We can see if we are a good fit, and if this kind of coaching with me makes sense for you at this time, Only if this feels right to each of us will we proceed to make a contract and start working together. If I can't help you, I will happily refer you to other coaches, and if this isn't the perfect time, we can check back in a few weeks or months.