In this issue
Experiences of undertaking research into spirituality (free article)
Jill Buckeldee reflects on her personal and spiritual journey
Developing psychospiritual care within healthcare
Guy Harrison explores the importance of the psychospiritual in multidisciplinary teams in healthcare
Mindfulness and meditation
Mark Leonard responds to John Rowan’s article
This is the time to talk honestly about faith
Kathryn Kinmond and Lisa Oakley call for more discussion on spirituality within counselling and therapy training
Is God in the therapy room?
Ken Mitchell offers his thoughts on beauty in relationship
Welcome from the editor
I’ve been writing my dissertation and have found the process exhilarating, exasperating and tedious at times; the whole caboodle. In this issue’s special focus, Jill Buckeldee reflects on her experience of studying for a PhD. She talks about the impact of working with clients who challenged her spiritual beliefs and the times, during the process of her research, of not knowing. As counsellors and therapists, we are often confronted with mystery and times when the way forward is far from clear. Her honest account makes for refreshing reading and encourages me to persevere with my own writing. Training as a counsellor and doing research require a great deal of stamina.
In Robert D Romanyshyn’s book, The Wounded Researcher, he writes: ‘We need a psychology of the borders, of transitions and gaps, and a psychological language capable of writing down these moments, a seasonal writing, if you will – a writing that pivots, like spring does between winter and summer, and like autumn does between summer and winter; a writing for the springtime of the soul in the work, and for its autumnal shadow; a writing that takes place between the seasons of darkness and light; a writing that casts a dark-light, that darkens what is too light in the work and would thus be taken too lightly, and that lightens darkness where without some light we would lose our way; be swallowed in the night of the work. This is the motive for metaphor: to speak seasonally and in a pivotal way that is neither too dark nor too light. And this is the way of metaphor when one wants to write down the soul of the work in writing up its results and ideas – a writing that approximates those things that could never be fully expressed; a writing that intentionally leaves matters in some obscurity; a writing that postpones the dominant and fatal X of a fixed meaning; a writing that is tentative in its response to what asks to be spoken in the work.’1
Guy Harrison set up a centre in Oxford in 2016, the Oxford Centre for Spirituality and Wellbeing. His article is based on a lecture he gave to introduce the centre’s work. He describes how multidisciplinary teams work together to provide the best spiritual care for their patients.
I heard a news report about a survey done by the National Centre for Social Research on religious views in the UK. Seventy-one per cent of people questioned observed no religion. During the report, it was said that other surveys had shown that people under the age of 30 had an ‘appetite for spirituality’ and spent time on a range of devotional practices including meditation and mindfulness.2,3 Mark Leonard’s response to John Rowan’s article (in the Summer 2017 issue of Thresholds) gives his perspective on mindfulness. He raises interesting questions about the approach to mindfulness and provides some background to the development of mindfulness as a secular practice. I think it is understandable that there has been some reaction to mindfulness as a quick and cheap ‘cure-all’. It is important for an expression of different views on the topic. Meditation is not for everyone. I find myself having to check in quite carefully that I’m not becoming evangelical in my approach to mindfulness with clients. I took the decision, to recommend a mindfulness course to a client, to supervision: what were my motives for doing so? Did the client really want to attend a mindfulness course? Was I doing the ‘right’ thing by following this course of action? My clients do not always share my views; I have had clients who are atheists, clients who are humanists, clients who have done mindfulness courses.
My own experience of psychotherapy training may be quite unusual, as the course at the Karuna Institute has a strong spiritual element to it. Kathleen Kinmond and Lisa Oakley share their recent research on whether counselling and therapy trainees are satisfied with the way spirituality is covered in their courses. There seems to be a lot of avoidance of difficult topics within the therapeutic world and their article looks at the challenging issue of abuse.
Ken Mitchell explores the topic of beauty in relationship within the therapy room. I studied medical biochemistry at undergraduate level and I never felt that science had all the answers. I believe science is a useful tool to help us explore the world around us in all its beauty and complexity.
1. Romanyshyn RD. The wounded researcher: research with soul in mind. New Orleans: Spring Journal Books; 2007.
2. Six o’clock news (evening) [radio programme]. BBC Radio 4 2017; 4 September.
3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41150792 (accessed 4 September 2017).