In this issue
Ahead of their time
Christopher Hampton, screenwriter for A Dangerous Method, talks to John Daniel about Freud, Jung and Sabina Spielrein
Living with Irlen syndrome
Marion Brion argues that psychotherapists and counsellors have an important part to play in increasing awareness of visual disability
Liz Bentley explains how therapy helped alleviate the physical symptoms of multiple sclerosis and how performing and writing helps her stay emotionally well
Staying the distance
Susan Utting-Simon found that running a half-marathon helped her to put the legacy of a violent marriage behind her
Julia Bueno stresses the importance of being sure of your competence when working with clients with eating disorders
Cloud Taylor and Havva Mustafa talk to John Daniel about the launch of a new lesbian-only therapist directory
From the chair
Wendy Halsall: Taking stock
From the editor
You might be wondering why there’s a woman playing the ukulele on the front cover of this issue. What could that possibly have to do with the serious work of counselling and psychotherapy? Well, the woman in question is Liz Bentley who, when she’s not practising psychotherapy, works as a stand-up comedian, poet and musician. I hope you will find Liz’s story of how she channels her personal experience into her creativity inspiring.
Liz’s story brings to my mind Jung’s concept of the ‘creative illness’: the ways in which personal breakdown and crisis can precipitate self-growth and healing. In my interview with Christopher Hampton, who wrote the screenplay for A Dangerous Method, the recently released biopic of Jung’s relationship with his first analytic patient, Hampton talks about how such crises tend to come to creative people; perhaps particularly to people who work in the field of the mind.
It seems to me that as mental health professionals we are not always open and honest in talking about our own experiences of mental and emotional distress – perhaps because we fear what our clients might think of us if we do. I am grateful to Liz for her honesty, and also to two other therapists – Marion Brion and Susan Utting-Simon – who share their stories of coming to terms with personal crises. Marion writes about the challenge of living with Irlen syndrome, and Susan shares how her experience of training to run a half-marathon helped her find the inspiration to put the legacy of a violent marriage behind her.
I think these three contributors have taken a risk to write about themselves so honestly – to allow their vulnerability to be seen. They also each demonstrate, in their own different ways, the means by which they attend to their own self-care as therapists. Their articles are also stimulating because they raise some pertinent questions about self-disclosure; sometimes considered to be the ultimate no-no for therapists. Interestingly, despite the fact that Liz has a public profile as a performer – clips of her performances are widely available on YouTube – as a psychodynamic therapist, as she explains in her article, she nevertheless holds strict boundaries around sharing personal information in the room with her clients.
I wonder about the possible dilemma we find ourselves in as therapists now that technology allows so much personal information about us to be potentially so readily available to our clients via Google. I’m sure that many of you might not feel so comfortable about making personal aspects of yourself so publicly accessible and I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the matter if they differ. Throughout this issue I make regular appeals to you to interact with us: to tell us what you think of the opinions expressed in these pages, and to contribute your own stories and articles. It was lovely to receive your emails responding so enthusiastically to the new look of the journal following its relaunch in December – please do keep your feedback coming. This is your journal and it relies upon your participation to keep it lively and relevant.