In this issue


Rolling with the punches
Syd Hiskey and Neil Clapton on the benefits for therapists of martial arts practice

Evolutionary allies (free article)
Joanna Griffin on the usefulness of understanding emotions from an evolutionary perspective

Sanity, identity and confidentiality
Jeff Weston presents a case against increasing professional rules and regulations

Emotional rollercoaster
Joanna Griffin on the impact of parenting a disabled child

Welcome to the jungle (free article)
Kris Ambler on consortium development and public sector procurement


From the Chair
Lesley Ludlow: Hot topic

Imperfect Therapist
Lizzie Thompson: Postcard from the edge

My Practice
Sarah Van Gogh: Are you on board?

Jim Holloway: Ethical hypocrisy

Alex Sanderson-Shortt: Three's a crowd

Cover of Private Practice, September 2019

Divisional members and subscribers can download the pdf of this issue from the Private Practice archive.

Welcome from the editor

In a recent BBC Radio 4 documentary, The Power of Deceit,1 Lucy Cooke explains how deception can be a winning evolutionary strategy throughout the animal kingdom, and how lying, or at least little white lies, may be the social glue that binds us together as humans.

This got me thinking about our work as therapists; how we prize such qualities as congruence and authenticity while necessarily sometimes (perhaps not infrequently) holding back on being direct and honest in our interventions when to do so would not serve the best interests of our clients. And how, when we listen to our clients tell us their stories, we would be naïve at best, foolish at worse, to take everything they say at face value – understanding that what is true for them is not always the truth per se.

In his regular supervision column, Jim Holloway writes about how ‘two-faced’ we can be as therapists, acknowledging the ways in which we might say things in supervision about a client that we wouldn’t say to their face. Good supervision, he argues, should provide us with a space to explore our awareness of our duplicity, including being honest with ourselves about the ways in which we don’t always practise what we preach. Jim goes on to suggest that the high level of confidentiality afforded by the supervisory space might even legitimise the application of double standards.

Jeff Weston continues this theme in his article ‘Sanity, identity and confidentiality’, in which he presents a case against what he considers to be an increasing move to straitjacket professionals with rules and regulations. He asks three professionals – a doctor, a lawyer and a counsellor – for their perspectives on where they understand the boundaries around confidentiality to lie.

Although concurring with his own supervisor’s contention that we should be able to talk about how the experience of being with a client has affected us, but that anything else disclosed beyond professional boundaries would be highly contentious, Jeff expresses his concern that ‘if we are always overthinking, rehearsing and unduly worried by an invisible guard, such nervousness seeps into the therapeutic space [and]… detracts from the matter at hand – namely the client’s unique struggle’.

Both Jim and Jeff speak to the complexity and inherent ethical tensions that are always at play in our work as counsellors and psychotherapists – the interplay affecting all human relationships between rationality and emotionality, mind and body, conscious and unconscious processes, safety and creativity, honesty and those essential ‘little while lies’ that lubricate all our social interactions.

In her article, ‘Evolutionary allies’, as in the Radio 4 documentary I mention above, Joanna Griffin looks to the animal kingdom to explore the evolution of emotions, and argues the usefulness of understanding human emotions from this perspective. She cites the work of Randolph Nesse who, in his recently published book, Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: insights from the frontier of evolutionary psychiatry, suggests that even mental health difficulties, such as clinical depression, OCD and anxiety, started out as beneficial, and that it is only as these aspects have gone into overdrive that they fall into an unhelpful response.

Joanna writes: ‘Nesse reports that some clients find it helpful to set their responses within the evolutionary landscape. It gives a deeper, richer understanding of the experience and avoids a sense of blame or that there is something “wrong” with them. These responses have developed over many, many generations. In some circumstances, these painful feelings keep us alive.’

Also in this issue, you can read Syd Hiskey and Neil Clapton’s article on how martial arts training can support us to respond more effectively to conflict and relational threat in our work; BACP Workforce Lead Kris Ambler’s article on consortium development and public sector procurement; and a second article by Joanna Griffin on the impact of parenting a disabled child.

In closing, for those of you who plan to be at the BACP Private Practice conference in London on Saturday 28 September, I look forward to seeing you there. As in previous years, the conference will also be broadcast live online, so if you are unable to attend in person, you can still participate.

John Daniel, Editor


1. Cooke L. The power of deceit. [Online.] (accessed 6 August 2019). 2. Nesse RM. Good reasons for bad feelings: insights from the frontier of evolutionary psychiatry. London: Penguin; 2019.