In this issue


Special focus
How to take a shower
Ruth Emsley offers tools for energetic resourcing

An ecological perspective
The winds of homecoming
Keith Hackwood explores counselling and therapy from an ecological point of view

Focus on older people
Counselling, therapy and the ageing process (free article)
Jennie Cummings-Knight reflects on spirituality and ageing

Mindfulness, Christian spirituality and counselling practice
Sarah Bruce explores the interface between Christianity and mindfulness and counselling

The art of connection
Beaumont Stevenson discusses how to be present in our distracted world

My spiritual journey
Jane Martin tells her spiritual autobiography


From the chair

Cover of Thresholds Autumn 2016

A pdf version of this issue is available from the Thresholds archive

Welcome from the editor

On a recent visit to see my supervisor, I had to negotiate floods and train cancellations. A heavy storm had caused the closure of Didcot Parkway station; it was partially underwater and resulted in mayhem. On my return to Oxford, later the same day, I was greeted by a glorious harvest full moon heralding the arrival of the autumn equinox. It seemed a dramatic transition from summer to autumn. I’m more aware of the moon’s cycle since I signed up for Sounds True’s Year of Ceremony, an online 13-month course (which began in March 2016), with monthly ceremonies conducted by various shamanic teachers.1

I’ve been curious about shamanism for quite a while. I was a fan of Northern Exposure, a Universal TV series shown in the 1990s.2 One of my favourite characters was Ed Chigliak, a trainee shaman who gets visits from his spirit guide and his personal demon, who taunts him with his own low self-esteem. When I lived in Finland, I became interested in the mysterious stories of the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, with its magical aspects. Nick Hennessey, a storyteller and musician, recently toured the UK with a group of Finnish musicians with their drums and kantele (a Finnish instrument which is plucked) singing of bears and magic.3 Shamanism is a whole new language for me… ceremony, journeying, spirit guides… I find my curiosity growing as the full moon approaches each month. I am being reminded of the importance of ritual and reconnecting with nature and the planets.

In this issue, Ruth Emsley’s special focus article is a pragmatic approach showing how shamanic techniques could be used to help resource a counsellor or therapist. Working with clients can have energetic consequences and we need to learn how best to protect ourselves and replenish ourselves before, after and between sessions. In her refreshing article ‘How to take a shower’, she offers many suggestions for resourcing.

Keith Hackwood introduces the topic of counselling and therapy from an ecological perspective. He will continue this exploration in future issues of Thresholds. Last year, I attended a workshop based on Joanna Macey’s ‘work that reconnects’.3 I’m also curious to ask how we can encourage our clients to feel connected to a wider world, to sense their place in the natural world, and on this planet, with the joys and responsibilities that belonging brings.

BACP has recently chosen ‘older people’ as one of its areas of special focus. Jennie Cummings-Knight reflects on the ageing population and the impacts on counselling and therapy. Penelope Lively, the novelist, wrote in 2013: ‘Old age is the new demographic, and you can’t ignore the problems created by a group that has been getting steadily larger – alarmingly larger if you are in the business of allocating national expenditure.’4 She cites a survey done by the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions, where most respondents believed that ‘old age starts at fifty-nine while youth ends at forty-one. People over eighty, on the other hand, believe sixty-eight to herald old age, while fifty-two is the end of youth.’4 As a 53 year old, I would like to believe my youth has just ended! Jennie will offer further reflections on this topic in future issues of Thresholds.

The practice of mindfulness has its fans and its critics. We need to ask important questions about the implications of using mindfulness for people whose spirituality is not Buddhist. Sarah Bruce’s article describes her research project, where she explores the experiences of Christians using mindfulness and their responses to it.

We live in a distracted world, often unaware of the present moment and what is happening around us. Beaumont Stevenson writes about his concerns about how disconnected we are, in spite of our digital networks.

Jane Martin’s enthusiastic telling of her spiritual biography expresses gratitude to her teachers from various traditions. She reminds us of the need to honour our spiritual journeys, in their various forms.

I would like to ask whether you, as readers of Thresholds, would like to have a noticeboard within the journal. This is a feature of some of the other BACP divisional journals and we have received occasional requests. The four categories that would be covered in the noticeboard would be supervision, placements, research and not-for-profit networking groups. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this topic, so please write to me at

Amanda Anderson


1. (accessed 19 September 2016).
2. Chunovic L. The northern exposure book. London: Boxtree; 1993.
3. (accessed 19 September 2016).
4. (accessed 19 September 2016).
5. Lively P. Ammonites & leaping fish: a life in time. London: Fig Tree; 2013.