Boundaries are one of the most important guiding principles in my work as a psychodynamic psychotherapist.
They provide a frame around the therapeutic space and relationship, rather like a frame around an artwork. Boundaries are containing, consistent, reliable and dependable. But recently, my boundaries have shifted. In private practice, I’ve been restricted by Government legislation which prohibited therapy ‘in a private dwelling’. This seemed illogical; I have full control over who comes into my therapy room, how it’s set up, ventilated and cleaned. I’m double jabbed, and I haven’t hugged anyone outside my bubble for over a year! But nonsensical as the rules might seem, I’ve followed them, and my practice has developed as a result. Necessity is the mother of invention. Like many therapists, I’ve offered sessions remotely, online and by phone, but I’ve also been creative. I’ve been to the park, on walks and sat in a field, all with the necessary permissions and risk assessments, and armed with resources such as sunscreen, blankets, footballs, windbreaks and umbrellas, depending on what the Great British Summer decided to throw at us from one session to the next. I’ve experienced fewer DNAs and there’s been a positive correlation between my flexibility and young people’s engagement. I’ve demonstrated that I’m there for them, wherever ‘there’ is, and whatever the weather. There have been frustrations, but there have also, undoubtedly, been rich, therapeutic gains.
So too, there have been gains and frustrations for therapists in training, as Sue Kegerreis writes in her column COVID-19 and the student cohort, while our other regular columnists recount the challenges of working with Self-harm in counselling and Projections of failure in supervision. In our featured article, Narcissists’ children, Jennifer Pitt discusses the impact on young people of living through lockdown with narcissistic parents. She identifies key characteristics of narcissism and highlights the unmet needs that develop in young people as a result. It’s a provocative read that will increase awareness for counsellors and therapists working with CYP. COVID- related challenges for young people who follow the rules are explored in Sarah Carter’s article, Too much of a good thing?, while Natasha Parker uncovers another topical issue in Generation action, where she shares the results from research which looked at what stops young people from taking action on the causes they care about. Our In practice articles this time include Ruth Micallef’s myth-busting article, Misinformed superheroes, and in a co-authored article, Lorraine O’Rourke and Monica Cooper illustrate how they combined counselling skills and a love of music, in Listening music therapy. Finally, Sam Clark shares her passion for cold-water swimming, and draws comparisons between the self-care practice, which has become part of the modern zeitgeist, and the therapeutic process, in Blue mind.
This feels like another bumper issue, which hopefully has something to pique the interest of every reader as we move into autumn. If not, if you’re looking for something that’s not here, perhaps you might consider writing an article yourself? As always, I’d love to hear your reactions to any of our articles, as well as your ideas for future contributions. Perhaps it’s time for you to dive in and get creative? Until next time, I hope that your personal and professional gains outweigh your frustrations.
Jeanine Connor, Editor