From the Editor
As two of the letters in the ‘Reactions’ section of this issue remind us, language matters. Jennifer Deacon’s letter explains the problems with describing therapy that takes place outdoors as ‘walk and talk’, while Lois Peachey expresses her frustration at the increasing use of ‘mental health’ as a euphemism for ‘mental distress’.
It made me think about the role that language plays in shaping our beliefs or knowledge around a subject. My personal bugbear is the use of ‘therapy’ rather than ‘practices’ after the word ‘conversion’ (we’ve used ‘conversion therapy’ in this issue as it’s the accepted terminology). I wonder whether the attachment of the word ‘therapy’ to the name of this heinous practice conveys an inaccurate impression of our profession’s culpability, when the reality is that – as Dr Igi Moon, Chair of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Coalition Against Conversion Therapy, said in our ‘Big interview’ this time last year – according to a 2018 survey by the Government Equalities Office, it is mainly faith organisations that are offering and carrying out conversion practices (in 53% of cases); 19% of respondents said that the conversion practice had been conducted by healthcare providers or medical professionals and 16% by their parents, guardians or other family members. As Dr Moon said, there are no statistics about therapists.
Of course, it is likely some of the healthcare providers mentioned in this survey were therapists. We can’t be naive or complacent – there will be incidences when therapists get it wrong, either intentionally or inadvertently. And, through legislation, education and awareness, we have to ensure that anyone who is LGBTQ+ (or wondering if they may be) can access therapy without fear of judgment or that they will be pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are.
But some therapists worry that helping a client explore all aspects of their feelings about their gender or sexuality could be misconstrued as ‘conversion therapy’. This fear is explored by Paul Mollitt in our ‘Big issue’ article on therapists’ attitudes to working with trans clients.
Elsewhere in this issue, we look at the role that food plays in therapy, how to develop a practice rationale, and working with the pursuer-withdrawer dynamic in couples. In the ‘Dilemmas’ section, an experienced practitioner who is winding down their practice asks if they still need 1.5 hours of supervision every month. Each month, a dilemma is explored by BACP’s ethics team and also several Therapy Today readers. If you’d like to contribute your views on an upcoming dilemma, be sure to check the last page of the feature, which will flag up the next subject. We very much welcome contributions, as we do to the ‘Talking point’ panel and writing about the book that shaped your practice. And, as ever, your ‘Reactions’ letters are important and valued – email email@example.com
Sally Brown, Editor
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Natalie Bailey discusses learning from each other
‘I was praying I had cancer because dying would be easier than this’
Nicholas Pope writes our client column
Inner sanctum: What makes your space therapeutic?
Do I still need 1.5 hours supervision a week for just a couple of clients?
Jeremy Sachs speaks for himself