In this issue


Special focus
Counselling with reiki – a road ahead? (free article)
Carolyne Hill reflects on her experiences of travelling in Japan, working as a counsellor and the benefits of reiki

An ecological perspective
Calling the earth to witness: telling our earth stories
Kamalamani encourages us to discover our relationship with place

Growing up into growing older
Sue Brayne reflects on her own experience of ageing

‘All that matters in the end is how we love’
Philippa Skinner explores the importance of love

Exploring religiosity and spirituality in the construction of recovery identities
Peter Hillen presents his research findings

Therapy as sādhanā
Keith Hackwood reflects on therapy as a discipline

Focus on older people
The ageing process and illness: thoughts for the counsellor
Jennie Cummings-Knight explores how illness and ageing interact


From the chair

Cover of Thresholds, Spring 2017

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

From the editor

Why are we drawn to certain places and not others? How are we affected by our environments? Why do some of us choose to live in big cities and others long for more rural homes? I grew up in an RAF family and moved many times during my childhood. As a small child, I spent time in the Far East and was looked after by Chinese amahs. I spent three years living in Japan during my mid-30s. I’d always wanted to visit Japan and am very happy that I had the opportunity to work there. I felt more at home in Japan than I did in Finland (even with my Swedish ancestry). The issue of home and what it means to me is arising in my own therapy and also in my client work.

Tori¯ gates (iconic Japanese images) often mark the entrance to Shinto shrines. Tori¯ means ‘dwelling place of a bird’. The magnificent gates signify the meeting of sacred and profane. Enso¯ are Zen calligraphic circles, which are sometimes employed as meditative practices, where a calligrapher uses a single brush stroke to draw a circle. In this issue’s special focus, Carolyne Hill explores how reiki might be useful in counselling work. She describes her fascination with Japan and the impact of her journey there, to study with a reiki master.

Sharon Blackie, in her book, If Women Rose Rooted, sums up our uncomfortable relationship with the world around us: ‘Unable to belong to any particular place, we so often find ourselves unable to belong to the world, from which as a consequence we hold ourselves separate. Aggravating this problem of belonging is our tendency (the result of 2,000 years of human-centred Western philosophy) to retreat inside our own heads and look there for solutions to all of our problems. We spend our lives searching for meaning in ourselves, engaged in deep conversations with our “inner child”, meditating on a mat indoors, trained to be ever mindful of what’s going on inside us – our breath and our thoughts and emotions – when so much of the meaning we need is beneath our feet, in the plants and animals around us, in the air we breathe. We swaddle ourselves so tightly in the centrality of our own self-referential humanness that we forget that we are creatures of the Earth, and need also to connect with the land. We need to get out of the confines of our own heads. We need – we badly need – grounding: we need to find our anchor in place, wherever it is that we live.’1 Last November, at a conference at the Eden Project in Cornwall about the relationship of psychotherapy with the natural world, I was very fortunate to attend a workshop led by Kamalasami. In this issue, she introduces the concept of ‘earth stories’ and how an exploration of these stories can resource us in our work as therapists and counsellors.

Sue Brayne offers a very personal exploration of her own experience of ageing. Her honest enquiry encourages us to ask difficult questions and to reflect on our society’s approach to this challenging topic.

In our profession, life-long learning is an absolute must. Philippa Skinner’s article, focusing on important lessons and teachers in her life, and her honesty, remind me of the question the French philosopher Montaigne asked himself: ‘What do I know?’ It also reminded me of the important concept of having a beginner’s mind throughout our lives, which is so central in Zen philosophy.

Reading about the various spiritual biographies of clients recovering from addiction in Peter Hillen’s article describing his research findings, I had a sense of their search for places where they felt at ease and from where they could rebuild their lives.

Keith Hackwood’s short article introduces us to the idea of our work as a spiritual discipline, with everything that requires.

Jennie Cummings-Knight concludes her short series on older people, with an article focusing on illness and old age. I’d like to thank Jennie for encouraging us to spend valuable time reflecting on our own relationship with ageing and for sharing her experience.

I am very sad to let you know that Robert Jeffery, who wrote a very courageous short article about dying in the winter issue of Thresholds,2 died shortly before Christmas. He was a dear neighbour of mine and a great friend and counsellor. He is much missed.

Amanda Anderson, editor


1. Blackie S. If women rose rooted: the journey to authenticity and belonging. London: September Publishing; 2016.
2. Jeffery R. On dying. Thresholds 2016; winter: 23.