In this issue
Other-centred therapy: a spiritual approach
Caroline Brazier shares her experience of both practising, and training psychotherapists, founded on a system of thought which is grounded in the spiritual
Writing stories with Aabira
Aabira, with Susan Dale as editor, uses narrative to explore her experience of living as a Muslim woman diagnosed with depression
From ‘secular’ to ‘sacred’, from despair to hope: a therapist’s spiritual journey
Avigail Abarbanel explores how her own transforming spiritual journey informs her work as a psychotherapist
Just what is a pastoral counsellor?
Joan Kearley shares what it means to be a pastoral counsellor in the United States of America
Non-directivity, ‘being-with’, and the Passion of Jesus Christ
Mark Harrison reflects on the person-centred theoretical concept of non-directivity and the Passion of Christ
Wellbeing and visual impairment: the role of existential spirituality
Lorna Marquès-Brocksopp considers what role spiritual wellbeing plays in relation to loss of vision
From the chair
Lynette Harborne: Rebranding on the agenda
Lead advisor update
Salma Khalid: Engaging the membership
Welcome from the editor
Thank you to all of you who have emailed to welcome me as new editor, and those who have found time to comment on the redesign of Thresholds. Most of you have liked it, and a few have not, but all of your views are important as they help the process of creating a journal that is fit for purpose for you, the members.
I am writing this editorial from the small island of Iona, which is located off the coast of Mull in the Western Isles of Scotland. It is a place pilgrims have been travelling to on quests to find the ‘Holy’ for hundreds of years, St Columba starting a Christian community here back in the 6th century. On this occasion I arrived by way of a small dingy, travelling from the Iona Community youth centre at Camas, located on the nearby island of Mull. The sea was choppy, but a deep aquamarine colour, the approaching sands were pristine and white, the Abbey dominant on the horizon. George McLeod the founder of the Iona Community1, once said that ‘Iona is a “thin place” – only a “tissue paper” separating the material from the spiritual; where heaven meets earth2’, and it has certainly been my experience that people from all faith traditions, and none, visit the island to find answers to questions about spirituality. There is something about the wildness, the beauty, the history of this place that enables people to come in contact with the divine.
A young woman talks to me as I walk up the footpath to the abbey. She is in tears, and tells me about her son who has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He is 12. She has come here, not for a cure, but to find some kind of connection with God. She is not sure even that God exists, but felt instinctively that if she could find him (or her) anywhere, it would be here. I am humbled by my encounter, and her faith. I meet another Palestinian man in the Abbey who is a Muslim and asks for the community’s prayers in bringing an end to the violence in the Middle East. ‘I have come on a pilgrimage to pray for peace’ he says.
Why, I wonder, in this age of secularism, are there so many people searching for spiritual experience and yet so little credence given to it within our society? Has our drive to be multicultural and politically correct meant that all spiritual language has to be removed from our workplaces, our social centres and health care? Can we as counsellors afford to acknowledge a spiritual or faith allegiance? Perhaps here within ASPCC there is a need to continue the conversations and discussions across the divide, and like Iona, become a ‘thin place’, a meeting place between the everyday lives of people, those who work with them, and the divine.
It has been an absolute pleasure working over the last few months with authors from such diverse spiritual backgrounds. Caroline Brazier contributes an article from a Bhuddist perspective looking at other-centred practices; Avigail Aberbanel tells the story of her movement from traditional Judaism to a different kind of spiritual awareness, and the effect this has on her psychotherapy practice; Jean Kearley shares what it means to be a pastoral counsellor in the United States; and Lorna Marquès-Brocksopp shares research that she has been undertaking with people who are vision impaired and the effect spirituality has on their wellbeing. I have also acted as editor to bring you a story from Aabira, a Muslim woman I have been working with.
I would encourage you to continue to contribute ideas and comment about any of the articles or letters contained within this, or other issues, of Thresholds. You, the members, are after all the journal’s ‘lifeblood’. You are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Susan Dale
1 The Iona Community is an ecumenical Christian community acting for justice and peace, the rebuilding of the common life and the renewal of worship. For more information, see: www.iona.org.uk
2 Bentley J, Paynter N. Around a thin place: an Iona pilgrimage guide: 7. Glasgow: Wild goose publications; 2011.