In this issue
Testing the spirits
Byron Gaist considers psychotherapy, Orthodox Christianity and spiritual discernment
Loving-kindness and compassion meditation in psychotherapy
Edo Shonin, William Van Gordon and Mark D Griffiths focus on the psychotherapeutic applications of loving-kindness and compassion meditation
The other side of loss
Hussam Al-Nawab explores how Buddhist-informed approaches, such as Naikan and other-centred therapy, can help support people through bereavement
Facing the void
John Eatock reflects on retirement and the existential questions it raises
Shelters and shadows in Belfast
Pádraig Ó Tuama shares his experience of living and working in Belfast, helping groups to speak to and about each other
Supervision of psychotherapy and spiritual direction
Lynette Harborne considers whether the supervision of psychotherapy and spiritual direction is two contexts but one process
From the chair
Melody Cranbourne-Rosser: Room to dance
Welcome from the editor
This will be my last editorial for Thresholds. By the time you read this, I will have started a new role as Good Practice Guidance Manager, and will be working within the team at BACP to review and update publications relating to good practice. Although I have very much enjoyed my time with Thresholds, I do look forward to the challenge this new role will bring, and I shall take with me the wisdom I have gained from everyone in the APSCC division. And hopefully this will not be the last you hear of me!
It has been a real privilege to have been entrusted with the editorship of Thresholds, and a great pleasure to work with authors from so many backgrounds and with such rich understandings of both therapy and spirituality. Before I go, I would like to take the opportunity to say a big thank you to the executive (including the recently retired Chair, Lynette Harborne) for their encouragement, enthusiasm and support; also the BACP Journals team, especially Jacqui Gray, the managing editor, who has, with great patience, taught me so much. Finally, I thank you, the readers, who continue to be a source of inspiration. I hope that the journal will continue to flourish, and I will of course still be an avid reader.
One of the joys of writing a regular editorial column is that it helps me to focus on what has happened over the preceding months in terms of therapy, spirituality, and indeed my own personal life. Writing my editorial for the winter 2013 issue, and also the article in that issue about the project in Machynlleth, my decision to take on a new role became clearer. Sometimes ending one phase of life, however, is very hard: how many of us as counsellors have arrived for a final session with a client to find that the client is absent? I recognise within myself a sense of frustration when this happens, yet part of me also sympathises. I realise that even when writing the opening sentence of my editorial I was reluctant to say goodbye, and justified further possible contact. Perhaps as humans we are often just averse to change. Change, however, can bring new growth and even better developments. The seasons change, and every year the fruit trees I see from my study window start to grow new leaves and become stronger and more fruitful. I am hopeful for this new growth, both in Thresholds and indeed within the project in Machynlleth. It seems to me that change is an essential part of ‘becoming’ who we have it in ourselves to be.
The theme of change is commented on within this issue by John Eatock, who brings his thoughts about change in terms of retirement. Other exciting articles include insight from Pádraig Ó Tuama into the work he is involved with across the divide, in Belfast; Edo Shonin and Hussam Al-Nawab look at Buddhist influences in various aspects of counselling and psychotherapy; and Byron Gaist offers a unique glimpse into Eastern Orthodox spirituality and psychotherapy.
Finally, returning to the theme of change and movement, and how we continue to become, this is summed up, I feel, by the skin horse in Margery Williams’ wonderful children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit:‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’1
Each time I meet a new person, or I start a new role or project, I have the feeling of ‘becoming’ a bit more. I would prefer if I did not get loose in the joints, or shabby, but I suspect Margery is right; it is all part of the process! The important thing for me is that it is what all good therapeutic and pastoral work is about. For me this is called ‘love’: allowing myself to be immersed and enthralled by the work and people I am involved with, whoever and wherever they may be.
Dr Susan Dale
1. Williams M. The original velveteen rabbit. London: Mammoth, an imprint of Reed Books Ltd; 1922.