Creative people no longer have to suffer alone for their art. Anna Blundy meets Andrew Evans, who offers therapy to angst-ridden artistes
STAGE FRIGHT? Artist's block? Fear of auditions? Luvvy, Andrew Evans is your man. Quick-fix psychologist to the artistically inclined, Evans says he "picks up the people who have fallen off the high wire". Bitchery and backbiting are inherent to the arts world, says Evans, and many highly strung performers come to believe that they are not making the grade . "From inside this room I can offer the warmth, empathy and encouragement perhaps lacking in their lives so far. I represent the outside world to them from the confines of this room."

Evans's Kensington flat is self-consciously shabby, with sheaves of paper, coffee cups, scrunched up clothing, and children's toys littering the worn carpets and heaving sofas. Countless paintings and sketches darken the walls and Evans himself positions himself grandly in the middle of his kingdom. Three sessions and a written assessment cost the ailing artist pounds 125 and will begin with a test of creativity. I scrawled my mark on 10 sheets of papers already imprinted with some suggestive symbol or another. Rather pleased with my efforts myself, Evans told me I was "as creative as I need to be under given circumstances" and proceeded to show me the incredible oeuvres of other clients. Some had drawn complicated swirling landscapes worthy of Picasso, and intricate architectural jokes with deceptive perspectives.

I turned out to be of the same character type as Evans himself - Extrovert, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving - apparently the type voted most popular in American high school girls. I was obviously marked out for a career in cheerleading and sank into despair. Evans's pamphlet advertises his services as being appropriate for those moments when "being creative is more of a problem than a talent", and he says that people come to him for a huge variety of problems.He has painters arrive with the very picture that they are stuck on. "They tend to be putting their lives into their work and they might get a block painting a person or thing that has disturbed them in the past without even knowing that subconsciously that is what they are doing," says Evans.

He works through the problem using basic cognitive therapy to try to explain rationally where the negative emotions are coming from and thereby dispel them. The most common problem is stage fright. "I once had a well known news reader who had developed stage fright after putting the wrong tape in on one occasion. Often there will be hundreds of minor factors like tiredness, someone taking too long to do their make-up, or emotional stress from home, that have contributed to the mistake and I make them realise how unlikely it is that this combination of events could reoccur."

Deep-seated stage fright can be more difficult to deal with and commonly affects musicians who are playing every night. Evans dealt with a soloist who would always make up to 100 mistakes on the first page and then continue flawlessly to his finale. "He was announcing to the audience; Don't expect too much of me, I am not really very good. Once he had said that he could relax and carry on." He was suffering, says Evans, from traditional Failure Fantasy. Most of us believe that we don't deserve any success, that we got where we are by accident, and that there are hundreds of more suitable candidates for the job. Such people tend in fact to be performing perfectly adequately. A very few people are at the other end of the scale where they are not doing very well but believe it is because they are brilliant and eccentric and nobody understands them - the Superman Fantasy. Evans tries to bring people into the realistic middle ground.

"What often works with musicians is to make themimagine they are playing to all the important people in their lives in turn. Very often you find that with one or other parent they are incapable of playing. I can replace a critical parent with a functioning father. I help them see that perhaps their parent was loving in other ways but didn't like music." It is vital, he says, to lift childhood curses and teach encouraging spells.

He does, he says, the opposite to what a critic might and therefore judges his clients. "Some people will go on to be brilliant, but most will have to be satisfied with something less," he says. "But all my clients," he adds quickly, "are very talented indeed."

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