In this issue
The death of online therapy: making sense of how technology and therapy meet
As technology becomes embedded in all of our lives, how relevant is it to distinguish between face-to-face and online therapy? Terry Hanley explores.
Some challenges for psychodynamic counselling in further and higher education (free article)
Colin Feltham asks whether the tenets of our foundational trainings always relevant and helpful in our work?
Twenty-seven years of peer support at Oxford University: a work in progress
Anne Ford traces the history of peer support at Oxford and outlines the many benefits that collaborative work brings for students.
In defence of trigger warnings
Amy Beddows challenges the notion that students are being over-protected when they are warned of potentially traumatic content in academic settings.
In or out of control? Viewing sexual compulsion otherwise
Dominic Davies questions the notion of sex addiction and explores alternative theories for understanding compulsive sexual behaviour.
From the editor
Counsellors are such lovely people – so kind, so gentle, so understanding, so full of the milk of human kindness… While this may – in part – be the popular perception of counsellors, as ‘insiders’ I’m sure that this description is likely to elicit a cynical raising of the eyebrows, at least. Counsellors are – first and foremost – human beings. Despite our training and our therapy, we are individuals and, in my experience, strong-minded people who are not afraid to express our opinions and beliefs.
As in any profession, counsellors come in all shapes and sizes and from all types of backgrounds. Our political views cover the whole spectrum of opinion. Some voted for Brexit; others see this as madness. Our experiences of spirituality vary enormously. Some have a strong spiritual belief system to guide them; others are atheists, eschewing any notion of religion or the supernatural. Our counselling trainings and theoretical models can be very different. Some are invested in non-directive, humanistic models of therapy; others passionately believe that clients need directing and challenging, especially in short- term work. Put counsellors together in a team, and you are as likely to find tension, conflict and disagreement as in any other professional group. How do we deal with and respond to our differences? In my experience, differing theoretical and spiritual frameworks are often the catalysts for discontent in counselling teams, especially if those teams are operating – as we all do – within institutions which may have little time for, or understanding of, the features of our work which we believe to be pivotal.
In this issue, our contributors explore issues which are likely to raise the hackles of some, and elicit cheers of support from others. Dominic Davies challenges the concept of sex addiction, arguing that it is an unsubstantiated, values-driven diagnosis of behaviour which can be understood in other, non-pathologising ways. Colin Feltham questions psychodynamic theory (and by extension, other therapeutic theories), and asks us to reconsider what some may hold to be sacrosanct in their understanding of how therapy works. And, perhaps swimming against the cultural tide among many educators, Amy Beddows argues in favour of trigger warnings in universities, seeing them as a respectful way of fostering independence and self-empowerment, especially for students who have experienced trauma.
As you read these articles – which may present views diametrically opposed to your own – the invitation is simply to be aware of any tendency to dismiss or devalue the strongly held and sincere beliefs of someone who does not see eye to eye with you. Our clients come in all shapes and sizes too, and with some there will be a more natural fit than with others. Yet our training helps us to ‘bracket’ or ‘hold’ our differences with clients, and, hopefully, to work supportively with those who are very different from us. Perhaps this is something we can all emulate in our relations with colleagues who may also be very different.
At the start of a busy, demanding year, I hope these articles stimulate and challenge: if you feel strongly enough to write a response, do get in touch. Our journal exists to give voice to the whole range of opinion without advocating any particular bias: tin hats may be needed at times – respectful acknowledgement of difference is key to thriving in our work.