In this issue
Here and now
The big issues
The heroine’s journey
Diane Parker draws on mind and body therapies in her groupwork with women
Holding the parts as one
Remy Aquarone, Melanie Goodwin and Sue Richardson explain how to work with dissociation
We are in this together
Robin Shohet pinpoints how left-brain thinking creeps into the counselling domain
Where is the love in counselling?
Suzanne Keys offers a framework for acknowledging love’s role in counselling
Wisdom from experience
Research into practice
Liddy Carver offers her top four picks from the journal
Is Mei’s neighbour a risk to local children?
Does religion feature in your work?
Nicola Griffiths plays Dr Frankenstein in her local panto
Dina Glouberman answers our questionnaire
The media were full of it last month – the Church of England advising its primary schools to let a thousand tutus bloom if that is what children want to choose from the dressing-up box, regardless of their biological sex. A friend of mine wore a tutu to her 60th birthday party – her parents had refused to get her one when she was six, and she was making up for it.
Our reasons for choosing a tutu (or superhero cape) are many and varied, and in an ideal world would carry no baggage. As the contributors to the news feature in this issue make clear, the problems around gender and sexual diversity are created by other people’s attitudes and beliefs, and rigid ideas of social norms. Gender identity is no different to any other issue a client might bring: if the client is in distress, then explore that distress; if the client is questioning, then help them find their own answers to those questions. For some, that answer will be gender reassignment; others may be comfortable living with a non-binary identity. But this is not a niche area of specialist practice: gender, sexuality and relationships are fundamental aspects of all our lives; if counsellors and psychotherapists can’t handle them, who can?
Another potential ‘red flag’ topic in the counselling room is love. Suzanne Keys unpacks the many forms that love can take – not just passionate (eros), but also unconditional (agape), parental (storge) and companionate (philia). To shut love out of the counselling room is to shut off a formidable source of healing, she writes. She quotes Dean Ornish: ‘If love were a drug, it would be malpractice not to prescribe it.’
There’s a first time for everything, but sometimes in therapy you don’t know what you’ll be working with until you’re well into it.
I have worked with two clients with dissociative identity disorder (DID). Neither knew they had it, and the first time, especially, I didn’t realise until quite a few sessions in, when I noticed that my client had started using ‘We’ when most people would say ‘I’. The second sign was that she would often pause to check a fact, as though consulting a partner... ‘We first went there in 1985. No, we didn’t, it was 86…’
It seems likely that many therapists will come across DID at some point. I know I would have leapt on the feature 'Holding the parts as one' back then, when I was rapidly supplementing my knowledge every which way I could. If there are features you would find helpful in TT, please do let us know.
Rachel Shattock Dawson