We work in the business of change. Change is what brings clients to our doors; the change that comes with a life crisis, as a naturally occurring fact of life, or the deep, subterranean and often barely discernible call for change that calls us from within; that still, quiet voice that speaks about our heart’s longing, which, for a million and one reasons, is often ignored.
This need for deep, inner change is often known by clients at our first meeting with them, even if only unconsciously. It’s communicated through what gets played out in the transference; in somatic symptoms and sensations; in dreams, fantasy and reveries; through metaphor, images and symbolism.
However change comes, it evokes resistance, because our fundamental need for safety and security leads us to cling to what’s familiar, even when that no longer serves us. We cling on to the wreckage, too afraid to swim, when our survival requires us to do so.
As therapists, we work in the epicentre of the pull towards something new that needs to emerge and the forces that fight against it; because there’s no life without death, no stepping across the threshold into newness, without the demise of what’s gone before.
We’re also working within a wider context that’s ever changing – and arguably not for the better. Climate change is now affecting us in ways we can no longer ignore. The cost-of-living crisis; the return of war in Europe; the rise of the justification for expansionism in Russia and China; the growth of populism in politics and the appeal for some of seemingly strong but actually narcissistically driven leaders, who seek to cause disharmony and division.
Whether we like it or not, change is coming, and we can fight it or accept and embrace it. The fight might be worth it, if the change requires staving off for the health of the individual and collective. Ultimately, though, in relation to personal change, the latter option is the one that best promotes wellbeing – not happiness necessarily, for this will only ever be fleeting, but to allow us to thrive while simultaneously honouring our grief for all that’s been lost.
Articles in the March 2023 issue include: Jeff Weston writing about when we jettison something vital inside us or have something taken away, boredom often comes to the fore, in Boredom: creativity's nemesis; Dr Cordelia Galgut explains that it seems we don’t understand the fear of cancer recurrence and progression well enough, in Living with the fallout of cancer; and Foluke Taylor talks with Sarah Van Gogh about therapeutic writing, black feminisms and making space, in Listening in the cracks.