Since I'm still suffering from an emotionally crippling bout of PSKBS (Post Sleater-Kinney Breakup Syndrome, AKA the newest and hipsterest Portland ailment), all I can think of these days is why bands feel the need to break up. While bands like Everclear will never (never!) call it quits, so many good bands hang it up at a time when they still have so many more great records to make. So with my black armband of mourning acting as an emotional tourniquet, I turn to a professional: progressive counselor Karen Hixson, who is an expert on counseling bands.

So what makes you qualified to practice therapy for bands? What credentials do you need to do this?

There are no specific qualifications or credentials needed to assist bands, but I am a master's level counselor and a certified drug and alcohol counselor. What is probably most helpful is a passion for this sort of thing, as well as some knowledge about the music industry. Some skills in conflict resolution, communication, and navigating drama amongst groups certainly comes in handy, plus assisting individual musicians can also be part of keeping a whole band solid and happy. 

Without breaking some doctor-patient confidentiality agreement, what sort of issues do bands have?

Personality conflicts, power struggles, drug and alcohol issues, business stress, lack of communication, division of labor... some of these things can lead to an unhealthy culture within a band, similar to that of any group that comes together in such an intimate way. Much like a collective, a co-op, or a workplace—a microcosm of the family, if you will—the biggest challenge can be issues of communication and honesty. On the positive side, being in a band can also offer an opportunity to undo some of the social and cultural damage that has been done, by creating an environment to deal with your baggage, create lifelong friendships, and challenge one's creativity. 

Would you recommend bands that are on the verge of breaking up to seek therapy in order to keep them together?

It is completely normal to evolve or to break up if things have run their course. But if a band is serious about staying together and does not feel ready to split, getting together to hash things out with a therapist might be something to consider. Therapy has much more utility than given credit for in the mainstream media. A more detached third party with some specific skills could bring new perspective to a repeat pattern or stubborn problem.

Should record labels make bands contractually commit to seek professional counseling before breaking up?

No way. Considering that business stress can be a large part of band conflicts, more pressure from the top down and less control over how to resolve things would not be helpful, in my opinion. While I could see it as an option provided by the label to be used at a band's discretion, therapy that is forced upon someone is not a good idea.

When in therapy, do emo bands cry more than other bands do?  

Could they really call themselves an emo band if they were all stoic and not open to emotional expression?

Progressive counseling by Karen Hixson, 314-6027 or radicaltherapist@yahoo.com