In this issue
The mezuzah on the doorpost
Lynne Booker reflects on liminality in therapy
No longer at base camp: a personal view of spirituality (free article)
Peter Bowes describes his own approach to a psychology of spirituality
Death, the ultimate frontier: then what?
Claudia Nielsen explores the impact of spiritually inclined therapists’ views of their own mortality on their practice
Changing the colour of my mind
Rachel Burdett discusses her own experience of spiritual direction
Philosophical approaches to therapy
Michael Sims discusses the philosophical approach to therapy
Welcome from the editor
As I approach the end of my third year of studying for an MA I am in the familiar place of not knowing. In this issue, Lynne Booker’s special focus article is a touching exploration of liminality. She describes the ‘betwixt and between’ experiences of life as the ‘stuff of therapy’. I love the expression ‘betwixt and between’… those mysterious and often frustrating places where we may experience confusion and have not reached any conclusions about the path that lies ahead. I was comforted by her wisdom and knowledge of the liminal experiences of clients and trainees.
Peter Bowes reflects on the metaphors used to express spirituality. How do we build/construct our worlds? What would your psychology of spirituality look like? Through an exploration of his own life story, Peter courageously answers these questions.
In her article, Claudia Nielsen raises the important question of how therapists approach the issues of death and fear of death. Our own experiences of death and our own fears about the end of life must surely influence the way we are with our clients. During my training as a bereavement support volunteer, I was encouraged to reflect on my own mortality. My own experiences of bereavement have been important topics of reflection throughout my psychotherapeutic training. In order to be with someone else’s questions about mortality, we need to have explored these existentially fundamental questions ourselves.
I have been thinking a lot about spiritual direction recently. How do we go about choosing our teachers? Patrul Rinpoche, a teacher of the Nyingma school of Buddhism, described the importance of having a spiritual teacher to accompany a student on their journey. ‘No-one can bring back jewels from a treasure island without relying on an experienced navigator. Likewise, a spiritual friend is our true guide to liberation and omniscience, and we must follow him with respect. This is accomplished in three phases: firstly, by examining the teacher, then by following him, and finally by emulating his realization and his actions.’1 I’m curious about what influences our choices in spiritual practices. Why are we drawn to some teachers and not others? Rachel Burdett shares her experience of spiritual direction. Rachel’s experience of spiritual direction influences her work as a teacher of Japanese teenagers and she reflects on her own experience as a student.
Are counselling and psychotherapy forms of philosophy? Many schools of psychotherapy have been influenced by philosophy. For example, existential therapy is philosophical in its approach and arose from the work of the 19th century philosophers, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. Heidegger’s and Sartre’s ideas are regarded as important in existential therapy. Albert Ellis, the psychologist who developed rational emotive behavioural therapy (REBT), was inspired by the writings of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, who saw people disturbed by their view of things rather than the things in themselves. Ellis places an emphasis on a philosophic causation of psychological problems and he sought profound philosophic changes in clients, hoping for them to progress from a ‘demanding’ philosophy to a ‘desiring’ one.2 In his article, Michael Sims describes the hopeful message in many philosophical approaches to life and how they may be incorporated in therapeutic situations.
In May, the BACP Research Conference took place in Nottingham. Gillie Jenkinson reports on her experience of attending and discusses the intriguing topic of changeology.
I look forward to hearing from readers and I hope the articles in this issue interest you and stimulate discussion.
1. Patrul Rinpoche. The words of my perfect teacher. New York; Harper Collins; 1994.
2. Dryden W (ed). Dryden’s handbook of individual therapy, (5th edition). Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore; SAGE Publications: 2007.