Like beauty, good therapy is in the eye of the beholder. What is good depends on what you want, and how you assess it. Despite the fervour for measurement in mental health, it is not a science, or if it is, it is a subjective one that can be asserted but not unequivocally proved. As a psychoanalyst, the notion of good therapy comes with caveats - one being that the aim of an analysis is not to be “good”, at least not in the way our culture usually assumes. I am talking of the values that have come down to us from philosophers like Plato, for whom the “good” was an absolute standard to which we should all aspire. For psychoanalysis, this is not case: what is at stake is not a universal good or goal, but the desire of the singular patient or analysand. read in full
Psychodrama works with those deep and important pictures of life, those moments of life where you need a return visit. Psychodrama has us looking at life, engaging with life, taking life apart and gently and with great care putting it back together again. Contrary to the rhyme, Humpty Dumpty can be put back together any way that works for you. Psychodrama is a technology for creativity. It pumps life into tired old bones enabling them to dance and sing with the power of life. Psychodrama sets up an authentic and sustainable life. It does this by tapping into each person's natural spontaneity that lies at the core of their being. read in full
Dreamwork: the Embodied Imagination method.
Part of my work as a psychotherapist is to help clients to locate and strengthen their “inner healer” - the part of themselves that can care for and heal their suffering. We work together to become more aware of present reality and how it is impacted by past psychic wounding. In Jungian terms, awareness of reality involves discovering some ignored parts of one’s psyche (the shadow) in order to free the psychic energy that might be locked away there. read in full
Projective Identification and Countertransference
I meet the developmental needs of my clients with an attuned presence that resonates with them like a mother who is attuned to a distressed child. It is my experience that facilitating a moment-to-moment process that includes physical holding, can help the client organize new resources and a different response to overwhelming feelings. Knowing deep in my being how important it is to be touched, I believe that providing real contact and not just empathic attunement can be also a very spiritual experience. read in full
Integral psychotherapy considers the whole individual (mind, body, soul, and spirit), the people he/she interacts with, the society in which they live, and the various cultures in which they belong. An open awareness of these elements and how they weave together to make up each unique person in any given moment, enables the psychotherapist to assist the client with an exploration and conscious integration of his/her fragmented sense of self. This collaborative process can have a profoundly positive impact. read in full
I suspect that what we know about Good Therapy is like the tip of an iceberg, perched on top of a vastness of unknowing. What I do know is that when I do Good Therapy I experience the energising flow of self-renewal that comes from the sacred privilege of truly meeting another human being. I have offered you some ideas about my experience of what makes therapy good for me, both as client and therapist, in the hope that it may stimulate you to think about what makes Good Therapy for you. In so doing my wish for you is that you resist the homogenising imperatives of “evidence-based practice” and that you bring the rich abundance of who you are to the centre of your practice. read in full
12 Questions of a Good Therapy
Therapy brings the person into a direct experience of themselves; And as a couple or family or community, into direct experience of each other. Therapy asks us to come into a direct relationship with who we are. To be helped to experience the sensations of fear directly, rather than be told 'you are feeling fear'. To witness our children's or our partner's body tensions, breath and heart beat, to feel it under our hands, to breathe with them and smell the odor of despair, the taste of anger rather than take a shortcut, interposing a label like depression, which means different things in every person's experience. read in full
Trusting the Flow
Good therapy doesn’t have a pre-set goal; it deals directly with what needs to happen. Good therapy doesn’t have a restricted view of the human condition; it welcomes moods, jealousies, dreams, altered states, depressions and conflicts; and sees them all as rich with potential meaning for the person. Good therapy addresses both the conscious and unconscious needs of the individual. Good therapy is deeply democratic; valuing all inner-parts, voices, and experiences equally. read in full
Near Enough is ... Good Enough
Therapy that does not shift the emotional qualities of our interpersonal interactions, will remain ineffectual. My client needed to overcome the way anger was socialised in his family system. It was never safe for him to go into adversity towards his mother. Silent criticism became his passive-aggressive way of expressing his need to separate himself (freedom) but this behaviour prevented him from expressing intimacy and connectedness with the woman he loved. read in full
How do we sit with unresolved conflict when the other party is unwilling to work, or take responsibility? At these times it is useful to shift away from a relationship focus to an inner focus. Working on a stuck conflict on a sentient or inner level is a way to move beyond polarities (you and me) to a more unifying process in order to create change. To stay only in the relationship level can be a trap since we can get stuck in speaking from our chosen identity. Sentience allows us to deepen our inner experience of identity and develop our experience of diversity. read in full
The Da Vinci Code and Modern Therapy
In asking the question “what is good therapy?” we must consider the times in which we live. What is required will then reveal itself. A hunger for the transcendent, for the integration of methods that cross the boundaries that separate, and relationship skills that foster intimacy, are all indicated. A shift from a patriarchal society to greater balance where the sacred feminine is restored to its rightful place is being called for and is already gently occurring. It is occurring in the realm of good therapy where the training a therapist undergoes must include an inner path of development as well as the acquiring of practical skills. read in full
The Myths of Life and the Choices We Have
The validity of our choices is often questioned when we become disillusioned with our lives, despite achieving many of the things we dreamed of. We long to have it all but find it increasingly difficult to juggle our jobs, our children, our homes and our sanity! We believe that if only a balance could be struck between the different areas of our lives, we could relax. Invariably, this balance is never achieved and we become observers in our own lives, wishing for the day when it would all improve. read in full
Travelling at the Speed of Light-Heartedness
Children have taught me to listen with my body, not only with my ears. Have you ever watched a child as he is being read a favorite story? She melts into the images, the sounds the smells of the narrative and each moment becomes the next penultimate experience. Just as the child listens with wonder and curiosity so too does he relish being heard in the same way. We all do. The moment of pure meeting as described by Martin Buber in his work entitled I-Thou is where wonder and curiosity melt and the act of seeing, hearing, speaking, listening and understanding transform into an act of Love. read in full
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