In this issue

Special focus
Giving voice to your soul (free article)
Ruth Groff and Cath Hancox describe their work with personal development groups in training

When psyche returns to soul
Alistair Ross discusses the role of faith in the therapy room

Findings: discovering writing with soul
Nigel Gibbons offers ideas for using creative writing in therapy

A meeting of souls
Anissa Chung explores the transpersonal in therapeutic work

John Foskett

From the archive
In the beginning
The origins of the division known today as BACP Spirituality, as written by the late John Foskett in 2011


From the chair

Cover of Thresholds January 2018

A pdf of this issue is available in the Thresholds archive

Welcome from the editor

I live in an attic flat, next to some very busy roads. One thing I am very grateful for is the view of the sky from my windows. In the past year or so, I’ve been able to watch red kites soaring. They are such graceful birds and whenever I see them, they lift my spirits. Their reintroduction to England and Scotland, after a period of near extinction has been remarkably successful.1 David Abram, a cultural ecologist and environmental philosopher, reminds us of the importance of birds:

‘The feathered ones, then, have long been crucial allies for our kind. Watching them swoop and glide and carve their way through the air surely ignited many of our human aspirations toward freedom and flight. Their bewildering array of colours and chromatic patterns probably provoked many of our earliest acts of self-adornment, while their feathers figured prominently in human rituals and dances frequently influenced by avian courtship displays. Birds have ceaselessly inspired us with their mellifluent voices and polyphonic exchanges, undoubtedly instilling some of our earliest impulses toward song and spoken language…. They have been for us messengers, intermediaries, envoys from the forest and its wider life, bearers of intelligence we could not do without.’2

I enjoyed BACP’s ‘Working with Soul’ event, held in Cardiff in November. In this issue, we celebrate this event with four articles from various presenters. Ruth Groff and Cath Hancox introduce their work, encouraging students in personal development groups to access resources by imagining their own soul birds. They use readings from a children’s book to inspire their students. Ruth and Cath share their own soul birds and their significance and describe how this can allow students to explore sounds, colours, and movement to enable them to express their struggles and successes. We were encouraged to draw our own bird during the workshop.

Alistair Ross explores the dynamism of faith in his article, based on his presentation at the ‘Working with Soul’ event. He offers keywords to provoke a response: religion, spirituality, belief, theology, hope and love. We could be limited by the use of these words or by our understanding of these words. He begins with Freud’s thinking, moving on to Bion’s approach and Winnicott’s ideas. Courage is necessary for us to explore our emergent spiritualities.

Nigel Gibbons writes about his experience of running a creative writing group. During the ‘Working with soul’ event, he encouraged us to respond to poetry. We worked in small groups and wrote our own responses to listening to a poem read aloud. I found the experience very inspiring and I realised that I don’t spend enough time listening to poetry these days. Poetry was very much a part of my life as I was growing up. My father would always choose a poetry book as a Christmas present for me, and these books are treasured belongings. It was good to be reminded of this rich resource that is easily accessible to all of us, and I am sure Nigel’s article will provide ideas for our work with clients.

Anissa Chung’s thoughtful and moving talk explored working with the transpersonal. She illustrated her talk with a hierarchy of emotional engagement, based on Maslow’s work with peak experiences. Anissa works with trainee therapists and highlights the importance of working with the spiritual in therapy and calling for it to take a more prominent role.

I was sad to hear the news that John Foskett has died. We honour his memory and the important role he played in the setting-up of the division we today call BACP Spirituality. We remember his life, by publishing an obituary written by his son and by republishing an article he wrote to mark the 40th anniversary of the Association for Pastoral and Spiritual Care and Counselling (APSCC), the organisation that preceded BACP Spirituality. I wholeheartedly agree with his call for us to ‘encourage dialogue between its members, the wider membership of BACP and the many faith communities in the UK and internationally’.

It is always a pleasure to meet members of BACP Spirituality and to be inspired by the creativity of the division. I wish everyone a rich and creative New Year and look forward to more dialogue.

Amanda Anderson


1. (accessed 29 November 2017).
2. Abram D. Becoming animal: an earthly cosmology. New York: Pantheon Books; 2010.