When sociopolitical events come into the therapy room, as they have done with increasing frequency across the last decade of Brexit, Trump, COVID-19, right-wing populism, austerity, global warming, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria… my response is to want to bring the focus back to the client. But who am I to hold that what’s going on inside might have more relevance and importance than the ways in which events on the outside are impacting – even when those events might be happening thousands of miles away?
Events in the outside world do not only enter the therapy room explicitly, but they also come through in unconscious communications and enactments. I’ve noticed an increased frequency in clients talking about dreams with themes of invasion, intrusion, pursuit by a visible or invisible enemy. Dreams full of rage, hate and terror, in which things are falling apart, breaking down, crumbling and dying.
Perhaps our internal psyche is assembled in a way that’s not dissimilar to the way in which the anima mundi, or world soul, is organised. Where the tension between conflicting parts of the whole manifest in splitting, obsessive compulsions and hatred, such that our internal climate can become as fragile and prone to collapse and destruction as the world ecosystem on which we depend for survival.
We see these unconscious processes playing out at a macro as well as microcosmic level, something that Bert Hellinger – the founder of family constellations – understood. In the current issue of Private Practice, John Harris explains how family systems are governed by ordering forces in Orders of love, and that alignment with these forces brings about peace and strength for all system members.
Also in this issue, Turiya Martyn Gough explores the Impact of patriarchy on mother-daughter relationships; Jeff Weston considers what we might be missing out on in a culture that values extraversion over introversion in Introverts need an audience too; Alan Tidmarsh invites readers to participate in a narrative therapy process known as ‘definitional ceremony’ in Acquainted with the night; and Jeremy Sachs asks if it’s too risky to work with clients with eating disorders outside of a multidisciplinary medical setting in Working with eating disorders in private practice.
Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.