"Saying it like it is"
We have witnessed in our media some very hurtful things being said as part of what has been described as a 'rancourous' US presidential race - on both sides of the debate. Whilst honesty can be a highly valuable and helpful trait, it can also be deeply hurtful to the recipient(s). So, the polarity is either to distort or mask the truth, or to 'say it like it is' without consideration for the recipients, and what it is we want to achieve by speaking our truth as we experience it.
Autumn is sometimes considered a time for reflection - for gathering in and taking stock. In the group I run, honesty and openness are encouraged as and when members feel ready enough to take the risk. Support if offered for this to be done in a thoughtful way, so that others can learn from what is being communicated - to learn from each other both what is spoken and how it is spoken - so that the degree of wounding can be contained and reflections and learning emerge from the experience of the sharing of individual thoughts and feelings. In other words, honesty is not diluted, but communicated in a way that can be clear, helpful and engaging.
Over recent weeks, we have seen this becoming more foreground in certain sections of national and international media. 'Hate Crimes' and political rhetoric that can be perceived as promulgating or legitimising hateful and vengeful acts. Perhaps this can relieve - albeit transitory - internalised and archaic feelings of anger and hurt? There are, no doubt, existential concerns that can be usefully acknowledged and addressed, rather than contributing towards a culture of scapegoating which, history has shown, seems to become more foreground when the percieved experience of our environment is one of material discomfort and increasingly insecure and uncertain about what the future holds for us and the ones we are most concerned and preoccupied about.
In therapy, hate has a legitimate and safe place to explore what is underlying this important feeling, and looking at how it can be understood, and what the underlying unmet and unspoken needs are - that can open up the doors to addressing these in a way that is both potent and contained free from shame or judgement.
Scapegoating and Hatred
What is this and what purpose can it appear to serve?
more on this soon.....
Out of awareness, low self esteem can lead to the following:
- acts of neglect or hatred towards the welfare of one-self or towards others
- these acts can adversely affect the physical and psychological welfare of self and others
7th June 2016
This is a term we hear from time to time. So why is it important to have this? What does it mean? What are the consequences for ourselves and those around us if this has been eroded? Can we recover or build it? If so, how? More on these questions and subject over the coming weeks....
5th May 2016
Trust can be shaken, ruptured and rebuilt. Trust is key to the sharing and exploration of experiences where shame and guilt are a core part. When we have sufficient trust, we feel safe enough - the opportunity is then presented for open and honest communication. Trust is something to be earned. When people come to see me, all I ask is that they are open to trusting me - but that it is my responsibility to demonstrate that I am trustworthy enough - and to know that if this is shaken - despite my best efforts - I will hold a space for this to be talked about in a safe and honest way so that important new understandings can be taken from the experience.
Trust is created when, more often than not, there is congruence between what is said and what is done. If not, it is highly likely that we and others will have the experience that whoever is frequently incongruent is unreliable and untrustworthy - however well intentioned they may be. If this raises any particular questions, please feel free to contact me to discuss.
3rd March 2016
This comes up often in relationships and our experience of ourselves and others. How trust is built, ruptured and then repaired will be explored in more depth on here in the near future.....
26th February 2016:
(The Age of) Narcissism part 2
Perhaps narcissism is healthy when it is aligned with the Life Position (see earlier Blog below) of 'I am OK You are OK'? This would be a position of valuing one's own needs, feelings, views and experiences and also those of others. How might this be expressed? When dealing with conflict (differences) both parties listen and work creatively together to agree an outcome that works well enough for both, free from any 'leftovers' that can turn into covert, ongoing resentment(s) that can be quite corrosive to closeness, understanding and trust in relationships - working or private life - over time.
Unhealthy narcissism could be viewed as a different life position demonstrated by the needs, feelings and experiences of the self being regarded as all important, and that others are there to reflect how special the self is - and their feelings, thoughts and experiences are not as important. Conflict is not dealt with the underlying intention to reach an outcome that works well enough for both, and 'leftovers' such as scapegoating and passive hostility such as 'ignoring and overlooking' of the others can be expected. This could be 'inverted narcissism' - so that the self is sacrificied continually to look good as someone who always puts others first...
With narcissism, is it how something looks/appears to be rather than the actual gritty substance that is the focus of energies? That appearing and sounding and looking like caring rather than actually caring, as demonstrated through actions, especially when under great (dis)stress and sustained over a prolonged period of time?
22nd February 2016:
(The Age of) Narcissism
At the weekend I heard someone talk of current times as an age of narcissism i.e. the focus on the self, on one's own needs and experiences as being the most important facet of contemporary life - sometimes referred to as 'the Me culture'. Reflecting on this raised a question - when is narcissism healthy, and when might it be unhealthy? More to follow on from this later this week...
17th February 2016: Life Positions (from Transactional Analysis)
Life Positions are based on early decisions we make - often out of our immediate awareness - to help us to make sense of our significant early experiences. There are four fundamental ones :
1. I am OK and You/Others are not OK
2. I am not OK and You/Others are OK
3. I am not OK and You/Others are not OK
4. I am OK and You/Others are OK
Life positions 1-3 tend to limit our capacity as adults to create and maintain relationships that are fulfilling and good enough for both parties. 1. can lead to an innate problem in trusting others and we may end up both in denial about our own natural falliabilities and may become preoccupied with those of others - and the needs and expeiences of one tend to be more important than the others'. (also the case with 2, but the reverse.) Position 2. views the self as openly bad/flawed/unloveable and can focus on comparing self to others unfavourably, and perhaps preoccupied with either envy of others or constant seeking for others' approval and fear of rejection. Position 3. has a futility as its frame of reference - perhaps ingrained cynicism, no point in even trying, nihilistic in outlook, resigned to everyone being bad, flawed and hopeless - so the needs, experiences and welfare of self and others don't appear to matter. Position 4. tends to be regarded as one where the needs, experiences and welfare of self and others are important, even when they are quite different or opposed - where conflict is worked through collaboratively to a good enough conclusion - and where openness to trusting of others is innate - though trust always needs to be demonstrated through congruence between words and actions.
It is worth noting that life positions can shift during a personal journey, and the pull to return to the old established one will be greatest during times of (dis)stress (emotional and physical). If you would like to know more, you could read 'T. A. Today' by Stewart and Joines - also feel free to contact me to discuss if this helps.
16th February 2016 : Life Positions
More on this tomorrow.....and how it impacts the choices we put into action, even if it is an active choice to be passive...
15th February 2016 : does it matter if your therapist has been in therapy or not? (part 2)
There are conflicting views, based on research, on personal therapy for trainee counsellors and psychotherapists. Some consider that it has no positive benefit, or that it may even 'get in the way' of client work. Alternatively, others consider personal therapy does bring is increased awareness of early creative adaptations that are often (in adulthood) 'blind spots' because they are so ingrained and 'normalised' that it can be hard to notice them, understand why they are there or how they limit our capacity for awareness and development as adults. By developing this 'internal road map', therapists have access to tools that are really helpful in the depth work that is undertaken by many practitioners. This is augmented with clinical supervision. Also, there is a view that if one has worked into feelings of pain, despair, rage, hurt, sadness, shame and abandonment then it help clients to know that it is possible to go to these places with an empathic witness and not just survive them but to grow from the experience and take/implement important new learning from doing so. Of course, not everyone wants or needs to do this kind of in depth work, but if and when they do, it may be reassuring for the client to know they are to venture there with someone who has done so before, and be 'heard and seen and understood' in those darker moments of life experience.
There is research evidence that supports both the 'pro' and 'anti' therapist personal therapy approaches. What some consider personal therapy does provide is an updated working model of 'effective empathy' - with the important caveat of the unique quality of the individual therapist that each trainee sees, and whether the trainee is 'going through the motions' or whether they are there to take genuine responsibility to embrace and work with/accept their strengths and the honest limitations of their early life adaptations - and the uncomortable acceptance that all early experiences are not ideal(ised), but a mix of helpful and not so helpful experiences. Given the often contradictory stances within the fields of counselling and psychotherapy, prospective clients are invited to consider this question : Would you go to a place that someone invites you to go given that they themselves have not - or simply do not choose to go to? (bearing in mind that this of course is a choice, and of course effective therapy does not always require in depth working - or that some modes of therapy work in a different way). So, this question may be relevant to you or not at all. You may find the following links and further reading of interest. If there is any aspect ot this you wish to discuss or ask about, please feel free to contact me.
12th February 2016: Social Media - use and mis-use... part 2 Digital Policy
The world of social media and networking provides those who have/choose to access it with a vast range of opportunities. For society as a whole, it seems that this has fostered a culture of 'Immediacy' - that we can gain gratification of our need for answers, contact and recognition at the swipe of a screen, tap of a finger or press of a key. For this reason, I have decided to provide a Digital Policy (see main website headers), so that people understand the parameters not just for contact with me, but the ways in which therapy both engages with the use of social media, whilst at the same time protecting the necessary boundaries of confidentiality that are central to the safety and well being of current and potential clients, myself, the profession and wider society. If you wish to know more, feel free to contact me to discuss.
6th February 2016: Social Media - use and mis-use... part 1
Really stimulating day yesterday on the workship by Dr Aaron Balick on "The Psychodynamics of Social Networking". The main points from this are that I will be developing a Digital Policy section for my website so that the key learning is integrated into how I practice. The use of the internet, social media and the dark net are so fully part of contemporary life that this now makes sense to do so. The extension of reality into the virtual and real digital world has created an expectation of immediacy that reframes how we view ourselves, each other and the wider world. It is clear that such a powerful tool as this information and communication superhighway can be both a potent tool and a harmful weapon, depending upon how we use it.
With social media, there is an important distinction between what we want others to see, and the whole of what there is to see or discover. What social media can do is to provide quick satisfaction to our innate need to be recognised and 'Liked' - that there is someone else out there who thinks and feels like we do - a virtual connection in an often disconnected world of fragmented and transient human relationships.
I will return to this subject area from time to time as I keep myself updated with developments in this area.
5th February 2016 : does it matter if your therapist has been in therapy or not? (part 1)
A few years ago, BACP decided that it is no longer a requirement for Counsellors to have personal therapy. There are strong views both for and against this position. Over the coming days, I will share some of my personal views about this issue, which has been somewhat contentious since its inception. UKCP registrants still have to undertake persoanl therapy - as far as I am aware - certainly, if part of the Humanistic and Integratvie College of UKCP.
12th May, 16
Please note that from 12th May 2016 I will be practicing from the Tower Clinic in Cookridge, Leeds. I will…
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