Recognition is a significant need that humans have and is basic as food, shelter, safety and warmth. In Psychotherapy it is possible, through recognition, to improve our sense of ourselves and our relationships with others.
Over time I have integrated a number of approaches into my work that include philosophy, science, and psychotherapy theories. I have included the following links to the influences that have been significant for me:
Over the past seven years I have participated in several weekend training events with Pink Therapy, the leading provider of training and services for the LGBT community in the UK.
I am LGBT positive in my work, my approach and in my life and offer a space for Trans identifying people.
I am currently interested in Relational Psychotherapy as a broad based way of working therapeutically.
The Relational School is a broad based community of psychotherapists and counsellors who are dedicated to broadening their understanding of the dynamics of the therapeutic relationship. A great deal of research shows that the nature of the therapeutic relationship is crucial to a productive psychotherapy. Relational psychotherapists and counsellors are devoted to understanding the nature of this very special relationship that occurs in therapy. Specifically, relational therapists utilise the therapeutic relationship in order to become conscious of interpersonal dynamics between their clients and themselves to better enable the understanding of the client’s relational style. Our activities aim to create forums for further discovery about realtionality from a variety of therapeutic disciplines as well as being a formal association for relational thinking in the UK.
TRS is open to individuals from all modalities of counselling and psychotherapy; all of those who are interested in what can broadly be understood as ‘relational’. Our members come from a broad variety of accrediting and registration bodies and are representative of the panoply of varieties of clinical practice in the UK and abroad.
Below is a youtube video with Farhad Dalal talking about Relational Psychotherapy and I find his words resonant with my practice. Enjoy.
Carol Gilligan, a clinical psychologist has had a significant influence on my practice. She questioned many of the patriarchal ideas of human development and psychology where women were seen to be less psychologically developed than men. She made a strong argument for responsiveness in relationships and emotional intelligence are essential to mental health. She suggested that much maligned female characteristics are as significant as traditional male characteristics.
Carol Gilligan – Psychology’s Feminist VoicesFeministvoices.com
She also points out that psychology is integral to feminism. In her words, “Feminism is one of the great liberation movements in human history. It is the movement to free democracy from patriarchy. In that sense, it’s a movement to free everyone from the gender binary and the hierarchy of patriarchy in the interest of women and men, in the interest of love. It is a way of dealing with human conflicts other than through the use of force and the imposition of hierarchy. It seemed to me, then, to say, “If you think you can explain the perpetuation of systemic patterns of injustice that is the repetition of a history of violence without a psychological or dynamic understanding… Psychology is integral to a feminism that is defined in those terms.”
by Laura Ball (2010)
Jessica Benjamin is a psychoanalyst known for her contributions to psychoanalysis and social thought.
Jessica Benjamin is one of the original contributors to the fields of relational psychoanalysis, theories of intersubjectivity, and gender studies and feminism as it relates to psychoanalysis and society. She is known for her ideas about recognition in both human development and the socio-political arena.
In The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism and the Problem of Domination (1988) Benjamin undertook a major revision of Freud’s theories of both human development and sexuality. Using contemporary research on infancy and gender, she argued for the importance of recognition and the intersubjective relationship. Against this background, she showed how relationships of domination involve the alienation of recognition, and a form of gender splitting she called gender polarity. She argued that we accept and perpetuate relationships of domination not because of an inherent aggressive instinct, but the difficulty of recognizing the other. She theorizes that domination is a complex psychological process which ensnares both parties in bonds of complicity, and supports this by showing how it affects our family life, our social institutions, and especially our sexual relations, in spite of our conscious commitment to equality and freedom. The Bonds of Love, Revisited is an edition that celebrates the influence of Jessica Benjamin’s work through fifteen essays that look back on the book’s impact, offering theoretical deliberations and elaborations of the book’s original themes and reflection on the book’s impact personally and professionally, for clinicians and feminists around the world.
Benjamin’s second book, Like Subjects, Love Objects: Essays on Recognition and Sexual Difference (1995) further developed the psychoanalytic theory of intersubjectivity, revising Freud’s oedipal theory to include both gender’s need to integrate independence and connection. She builds on the foundation of Freud‘s oedipal theory, critically revising it to include the female’s struggle for independence. She argues that traditional Freudian theories inevitably reproduce patriarchal gender relationships which are characterized by domination and submission, most notably reflected in the cultural polarity of male rationality and female vulnerability.
Peter Fonagy’s with Theory of Mind, Mentalisation and the Development of the self is having a growing influence particularly in reparation of unresolved childhood developmental tasks. It can lead to new insights into self and others and to how people relate more successfully. This video will give you further information.
Constructivism is a theory of knowledge suggesting that we generate knowledge and meaning from interaction between experiences and ideas, from birth to old age. And so this can be an important way of thinking about counselling and psychotherapy, where we also create meaning and understanding in the interaction between therapist and the person. To put it simply, meaning is created in the relationship.
I also like some of the ideas promoted by non-duality, the notion that the world is not made from opposites; up or down, this or that, black or white, right or wrong’ good or evil, true or false, and so on. Quantum systems are those that exist in multiple states at one time, until measured. In an article in the SAND this idea is offered as a thought experiment that I would on occasions use with clients to help with ‘either/or’ thinking:
“You can experiment with this for yourself very simply and very easily. Next time you are angry or jealous or greedy or violent or whatever it may be, watch yourself. In that state, “you” are not. There is only that state of being. The moment, the second afterwards, you term it, you name it, you call it jealousy, anger, greed; so you have created immediately the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experienced. When there is the experiencer and the experienced, then the experiencer tries to modify the experience, change it, remember things about it and so on, and therefore maintains the division between himself and the experienced. If you don’t name that feeling—which means you are not seeking a result, you are not condemning, you are merely silently aware of the feeling—then you will see that in that state of feeling, of experiencing, there is no observer and no observed, because the observer and the observed are a joint phenomenon and so there is only experiencing.”
A colleague recently gave me a book, ‘Leading from the Emerging Future.’ Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer, (follow this link to read the introduction) Although the work is based on the financial world it has many applications that include psychotherapy and relationship counselling. Scharmer is trying to find a way to develop a different dialogue for capitalism but his framework has many useful applications and is attracting interest across professionals and disciplines.
This is a video of Otto Scharmer talking about change:
I am registered with ‘TOWARDS HEALING’ to provide face to face counselling for adult men and women who have experienced clerical abuse. I have attended their three day training in the ‘use and application of Trauma Model developed in America by Dr. Colin Ross provided by Towards Healing in Dublin.