A tradition at the Evolution Conference is to invite keynote speakers from disciplines somewhat related, but outside the field of psychotherapy. Previous keynote speakers have included Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Mary Catherine Bateson, Elliot Aronson, Herbert Benson, Patch Adams, Robert Sapolsky, Andrew Weil, and Nobel Laureate, Gerald Edelman. In December, non-psychotherapy keynotes include Robert Sapolsky, Philip Zimbardo, and Antonio Damasio. We will also feature special addresses by Elizabeth Loftus, who will discuss human memory; Marilyn Yalom, who will speak about gender, and Paul Ekman, whose expertise on nonverbal behavior is peerless.
At the 2013 Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference, I invited Hollywood film director, James Foley, whose numerous film credits include Glengarry Glen Ross and Fifty Shades Darker. He was also director for several of episodes of House of Cards. In an evening session, I showed clips from some of his feature films and we discussed the grammar of movies.
All of the arts have their own particular grammar, and some grammatical forms are used across the arts. For example, foreshadowing is used by novelists and moviemakers, and related techniques are used by composers. There is research that demonstrates the effectiveness of foreshadowing. Investigations in social psychology on priming has demonstrated that the earlier presentation of a cue increases accessibility of the related target when it is presented. Concepts such as priming, however, have not been used in psychotherapy. Milton Erickson was an exception; he often foreshadowed concepts to which he would later return. Erickson was an expert at helping people to change their state.
Art is designed to reach the human heart and evoke changes in emotion and perception. Artists explore their medium to create evolutions that advance evocative impact. A foundation of art is to help people change their state.
A goal in psychotherapy may be to help a client to access an adaptive state. Those who are presently unmotivated or irresponsible have a history of adaptive states that therapists can work to elicit. Studying hypnosis teaches therapists how to help clients change their state.
For decades, I studied the evocative methods that Milton Erickson used to help clients change their state. Then, I realized that the technology for eliciting effective states exists in the realm of art. I developed a project (emotional-impact.com) wherein I interviewed artists to learn the grammar of evoking alterations in mood and perspective. In my workshops, I often teach therapists how to use principles from art to advance their psychotherapy methods, regardless of their preferred orientation.
To further understand artistic impact I invited a poet, David Whyte, and a composer, Rob Kapilow, to offer evening programs at the December Conference. Both poetry and music take language into realms that normal communication cannot reach. On separate evenings, David and Rob will talk about their work for one hour, and then I will interact with each of them for an hour in an attempt to extricate concepts that can be used to further psychotherapy.
David Whyte has been a frequent keynote presenter at psychotherapy conferences. I first met him when he presented for Psychotherapy Networker. Two years ago, I was teaching in Singapore and having dinner at the sushi bar in the Raffles Hotel. The man who sat down next to me was David Whyte. I took it is an auspicious sign and invited him to Evolution, which he accepted.
Rob Kapilow was introduced to me by one of my students who recommended that I see his YouTube video in which he deconstructed Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I was mesmerized. His genius is evident and his enthusiasm is unparalleled. I’m thrilled that he accepted the invitation to Evolution.
Events with David and Rob are just two of the stellar programs you will enjoy in December. I look forward to seeing you there.
Jeffrey K. Zeig, PhD