In this issue
Freedom from the past
Robin Shohet in conversation with Christina Breene about how we can work on ourselves to bring about the healing of others
The straw man and the red ball
Johanna Sartori on working with metaphor in the therapeutic relationship
On African time
Susan Board went to South Africa to provide support to carers working with people living with HIV and Aids and their families
How I lost my mind and found my soul
Benjamin Fry explains how somatic experiencing saved his life
Increasing access, widening choice
Brigid Baker talks to John Daniel about Get Stable
Into the deep
Doreen Fleet argues that you need to be prepared to taste your own fear when reaching relational depth with a client
From the chair
Wendy Halsall: A sense of unity
From the editor
Reading the articles in this issue I am humbled by the generosity of clients who have consented to their case material being used for publication here. What our clients bring of themselves to therapy is a great gift to us as therapists because we are in a constant process of learning and development, however experienced and highly qualified we are.
Most importantly, our clients offer us a chance to heal ourselves. Robin Shohet reminds us of this in Christina Breene’s interview with him. Robin argues that it is not our job to fix our clients, but to work on ourselves first in order to facilitate their healing. Inverting the usual paradigm that the therapist’s role is to heal the client, he borrows from an ancient Hawaiian healing method called Ho’oponopono, to argue that our clients show us what is unresolved in us and that it is our job, therefore, to do deep work on ourselves. This will, in turn, impact on them.
This method, which has been applied to a therapy setting by the Hawaiian therapist Ihaleakala Hew Len, is an ancient practice of forgiveness and reconciliation. Hew Len works from the premise that the world is a projection of our state of mind and that, to help others, we need to start with ourselves. I like this idea because it reminds me of the need to be continuously aware of, and take responsibility for, my own perceptions and to put these aside, as best I can, as I sit with my clients, so that I can be present with them beyond my conditioned self. As I write, I’m mindful of how difficult I find this is to achieve in practise, and how essential I find supervision and ongoing personal therapy to support me in this endeavour.
In addition to being humbled by clients’ willingness to share their material with readers, I’m also moved by what therapists share of themselves in these pages. I am particularly proud to be publishing Benjamin Fry’s account of his own breakdown and recovery. As a result of being successfully treated in America, via a technique to heal trauma called somatic experiencing, he’s currently training in the technique himself. He hopes in time to offer access to the ‘miracle’ treatment that saved his life to clients in the UK.
Doreen Fleet also writes about working with trauma in her article, where she reflects on the way she worked with a female survivor of sexual violence. She offers a fascinating account of her thoughts and feelings as she accompanied her client on a journey into the darkness. And as her client summoned the courage to speak the unspoken in therapy. I offer deep thanks and appreciation to Doreen’s client for allowing us to learn from her experience, as I do to all the therapists and clients who have shared something of their process with us in this issue.