ISSUE FOUR 2010 IS SN 1835 - 937X
Spirituality and Therapy
Journal of the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Association of NSW Inc
contents Welcome 3 Editorial
CAPA NSW Executive and Staff President Maxine Rosenfield email@example.com Vice-President (vacant) firstname.lastname@example.org Secretary Jennifer Heward email@example.com Treasurer Campbell Forsyth firstname.lastname@example.org Ethics Chair Jeni Marin email@example.com PD Coordinator Juliana Triml firstname.lastname@example.org Membership Chair Beate Zanner email@example.com Rural and Regional Liaison Chair Phil Hough firstname.lastname@example.org Administrative Assistant Christine Rivers email@example.com The CAPA Quarterly http://thecapaquarterly.blogspot.com Editor Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar firstname.lastname@example.org
CAPA News 4 From the President’s Desk 5 CAPA Update 7 Meet CAPA’s New Executive Team 8 Regional and Rural Page Talking Therapies 10 Interview with Rev Dr Stephanie Dowrick Features 14 Embodying and Integrating Spirituality: A Vital Role for Psychotherapy – Pedro Campiao 20 Addiction: A Psychospiritual Perspective – Jodie Gale 24 Spirituality and Therapy: A Personal View from Buddhism and Systems Intelligence – Stephen Malloch Blog How Might Spirituality Help People on a Methadone Program Deal with their Addiction? – Juliana Triml http://bit.ly/9FBUpF First Person 26 Exiting ‘The Children Of God’ – Able’s Story 27 The Art of Faith: A Journey of Soul – Dr Dawne Domah Therapeutic Techniques 29 Working with People Who Have Left Deceptive, Controlling and Manipulative Groups – Jill Henry Practice Management Tips 31 Giving and Receiving – Jacinta Frawley 32 How Does Blogging Attract Clients? – Clare Mann Professional Development 33 Sandplay, the Window into the Unconscious – Presentation by Gail Pemberton 34 Professional Development Events Membership Profile 35 Nerida Oberg Noticeboard 36 Noticeboard 37 Events Calendar
= Peer reviewed
The CAPA Quarterly respectfully acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which the CAPA NSW office is located; and the traditional owners of all the lands through which this journal may pass.
Cover artwork by Jim Frazier Design by embassy creative
© CAPA NSW 2010. Copyright is held with CAPA NSW and individual authors. Please direct permission requests to the editor. Opinions expressed in The CAPA Quarterly do not necessarily represent those of the editor or of CAPA NSW. While all reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, no liability is assumed for any errors or omissions. Liability howsoever as a result of use or reliance upon advice, representation, statement or opinion expressed in The CAPA Quarterly is expressly disclaimed by CAPA NSW and all persons involved in the preparation of this publication. The appearance of an advertisement in The CAPA Quarterly does not imply endorsement of the service or approval of professional development hours from the service. Advertisers are advised that all advertising is their responsibility under the Trade Practices Act.
editorial It seems timely to explore spirituality and therapy as we approach what for many people, and many religions, is quite a sacred time of year. Yet what is spirituality anyway? Can it even be differentiated from the simple act of living? William West notes that ‘…everything can be seen to be spiritual, that is we are spiritual beings on a spiritual journey inhabiting a spiritual universe’ (2000, p.4). What of spirituality’s (sometimes triangulated) relationship with religion? And how should we bring these intangible, otherworldly concepts into therapy? How shall we sit with clients whose spiritual beliefs might challenge our own? And how can we resist the silent pull of western culture’s JudeoChristian undercurrents? Perhaps the process of therapy itself can be likened to ‘…a spiritual process’ of sorts (West 2000, p.1) – a healing engagement with the psyche, the ‘human soul, spirit or mind’ (Macquarie University 1997, p.1720). Or maybe some ailments of the psyche can be seen as signs of a spiritually malnourished social system. Psychiatrist Tanveer Ahmed recently pointed to the self-harming practices of his patients with borderline personality disorder, and suggested these
behaviours ‘…may actually be attempts at self healing gone astray in a culture bereft of an integrative spiritual and ritualistic context’ (2010). So whatever spirituality is, it seems to ask a lot of questions of us as practitioners. Our contributors set out on a quest for some answers. And if you’d like to add your own beliefs to this conversation, please visit the blog and give your feedback online (http://thecapaquarterly.blogspot.com). On a less spiritual and more practical note, this issue marks my final one as the journal’s editor. I’ve had the invigorating privilege of editing The CAPA Quarterly for a year and a half now, over six issues. In that time, the journal has seen the implementation of its peer review process, a section for interviews with practitioners, the blog, the events calendar, a page for regional and rural concerns, and a formal acknowledgement of the traditional owners of all the lands through which it passes. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who brings this journal into being, particularly Jennifer Heward (CAPA’s Secretary), who resolves countless queries and tirelessly helps proofread each issue; Matt Ward and
Tim Stevenson of embassy creative, whose inspired designs breathe life into these pages; Christine Rivers (CAPA’s Admin Assistant), who coordinates the advertising; and, of course, all the contributors, columnists and reviewers who share their perspectives, expertise and experiences in this way. Finally, please join me in welcoming our new editor, Laura Daniel, who brings a wealth of publishing and editing experience, and will no doubt take the journal to yet another level. If you’d like to contribute to future issues, please contact her at email@example.com. Wishing you all the best for the coming season, in your practice and beyond. Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar, Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy, is a Sydney psychotherapist (www. onelifecounselling.com.au). She also facilitates telephone support groups at Cancer Council NSW, writes ‘The Therapist Within’ for Psych Central (http://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapist-within). References 1. Ahmed, T 2010, ‘Yearning for Ritual in the World of the Individual’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 September, p.13. 2. Macquarie University 1997, The Macquarie Dictionary, 3rd edn, The Macquarie Library, NSW. 3. West, W 2000, Psychotherapy and Spirituality: Crossing the Line between Therapy and Religion, Sage Publications, London.
online Visit The CAPA Quarterly’s blog for the latest journal updates, bonus articles and links to related resources. The latest posts include: - an article on how spirituality might help people on a methadone program deal with their addiction, by Juliana Triml - photographs of Dr Dawne Domah’s artworks, to accompany her article on a personal exploration of spirituality and grief through Jungian and shamanic perspectives (page 27)
Spring has ‘sprung’ all around my garden and as I write, looking at the buds on the bushes, I’m reflecting on how I feel about CAPA NSW at the moment, budding, growing and developing. Things never stand still in organisations, and the role of an Executive Committee is to be aware of the changes, both internally and externally, and to make clear, considered decisions about which directions to take, which goals to try to achieve and which ideas we may desire but might not be able to bring to fruition just yet. I was excited to represent CAPA at the PACFA AGM and Council meeting in August because I felt I could act on your behalf with current knowledge. The 170 people who attended our AGM the week before gave me a clear mandate and a healthy list of issues to be raised, all of which were discussed over the course of the two days. I want to thank Chris Simon for joining me. His knowledge about academic matters and training establishments was invaluable in assisting some of the discussions. The answers I received from PACFA helped me to get clearer about the way ahead for the immediate future. On my return, I was able to share this with CAPA’s Executive Committee, and then to email all our clinical and intern
members with the details. I will continue to email members with information so that you can be aware of any PACFA matters or issues in the wider counselling world that might impact all of us. Keeping with the spring theme, a new idea is in bud. CAPA NSW is too large to simply rely on an Executive Committee and the Membership, Ethics and Regional and Rural Committees, all of whom have their own focused workloads. We are ‘springing’ forward with the idea of establishing working parties to assist us in our thinking for particular projects or ideas. These advisory groups will be convened for specific and mostly shortterm matters, using the expertise that you, our members, have to share. I hope that by the time you read this, some of you will have already come forward to assist with the first working parties we are creating. With close to 800 members, there is a lot of good thinking and experience out there that we would like to tap into! In this way, I hope we can achieve more of our goals without adding too much to the Executive Committee workload and without having to find money we simply do not have. All of this is timely for our journal theme of spirituality – that which relates to or affects the human spirit or soul. With
upcoming themes in
assistance from more of you, our members, we can add to our collective spirit together, work to consolidate our foundations and build our organisational future. Our future is only possible because of our past. I would like to thank two incredible CAPA NSW members who have been part of our past and who stepped down from the Executive Committee in August. Words cannot adequately express the gratitude and respect I hold for Wendy Carver and Chris Simon, who collectively gave thousands of hours of their time amongst their busy, full time work schedules to CAPA’s Membership Committee and to the Executive Committee for several years. Wendy and Chris, on behalf of all our members past, present and those to come in the future who will benefit from your legacy without personally knowing you, I salute you. Warm spring wishes to you all,
Please note: as of Issue Two 2011, all submissions are due on the 1st of the month (or the previous Friday if the 1st falls on a weekend). Peer reviewed submissions are due four months ahead of the issue month. Non-peer reviewed submissions are due three months ahead of the issue month.
What will you contribute? Who are the experts in the field?
1 2 3 4
Therapy and the Body – Issue One 2011
Death and Bereavement – Issue Two 2011
Virtual Therapies – Issue Three 2011
Working with Addictions – Issue Four 2011
Expressions of interest due: ASAP Peer reviewed submissions due: 3 December Non-peer reviewed submissions due: 17 December Mail out: February
Expressions of interest due: ASAP Peer reviewed submissions due: 31 December Non-peer reviewed submissions due: 1 February Mail out: May
Expressions of interest due: ASAP Peer reviewed submissions due: 1 April Non-peer reviewed submissions due: 29 April Mail out: August
Expressions of interest due: ASAP Peer reviewed submissions due: 1 July Non-peer reviewed submissions due: 1 August Mail out: November
Send your expression of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
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code of conduct
for Unregistered Health Practitioners
As counsellors and psychotherapists, we are legally required to display two documents in our practice(s): the NSW Code of Conduct for Unregistered Health Practitioners
Both are available online in the members area of the CAPA NSW website: www.capa.asn.au The Code of Conduct is also available in several community languages on the Health Care Complaints Commission website: www.hccc.nsw.gov.au
information on how clients can make formal complaints to the Health Care Complaints Commission.
These legal requirements are set out in the ‘Public Health (General) Amendment Regulation 2008’ under the NSW Public Health Act (1991), and came into effect on 01/08/2008.
Checkout the CAPA NSW website for information on: Ethics and Counselling Problem Solving Steps Client Confidentiality and Privacy and Relevant NSW and Commonwealth Legislation Duty of Care Workplace Bullying and Violence Mandatory Reporting Keeping Track of Paperwork Information for Counsellors who have been served with Subpoenas Complaints Form for Submission of Complaints and Grievances by a CAPA Member Just login to the members area of www.capa.asn.au and click on the “Ethics” button on the left.
as at 12 October 2010
subscribe today Even if you’re not a member of CAPA NSW, you can still subscribe to The CAPA Quarterly and receive:
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All for $12.50 per issue or $40.00 for a yearly subscription (including GST).
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call for contributions february 2011 issue
therapy and the body
‘The body never lies,’ said Alice Miller. Is that true? And if so, how can therapy help the body to speak those truths more clearly and perhaps even translate them into a language that the mind and emotions might better understand. What of concepts like ‘muscle memory’? Could our past experiences and emotional pain be locked in our physical selves?
How much does our body – and its varying levels of ability, its relative health or illness, its position on the ageing spectrum, and our relationship with it – shape our lives and the way we see ourselves? Is there ever any real way to leave the body out of the therapy room anyway? And exactly how embodied should therapy be?
Your contribution to this debate is invited.
For contributor guidelines, visit http://thecapaquarterly.blogspot.com/p/contribute.html or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send your expressions of interest as soon as possible, to maximise your chance of inclusion. Peer reviewed papers due by: 3 December Non-peer reviewed due by: 17 December
journal ads and pd hours Please note that advertisements in the journal do not necessarily comply with CAPA’s professional development (PD) requirements. As with all workshops/courses/ conferences, please check their eligibility
using CAPA’s ‘Professional Development Policy 2009/2010’ in the members area of the website www.capa.asn.au. If you have any queries, please contact CAPA’s Membership Chair on email@example.com
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e xpanding your Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) publication count enhancing the academic rigour of The CAPA Quarterly. Articles submitted for peer review will be sent to 2-3 independent reviewers. The CAPA Quarterly uses a double-blind peer review process, where the identities of both the author(s) and the reviewers remain anonymous. For guidelines on your peer reviewed submission, please visit http://thecapaquarterly.blogspot.com/p/contribute.html or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
meet CAPA’s new executive team Welcome to our new Membership Chair Beate Zanner Prior to my work in therapy, I had had numerous occupations which could roughly be categorised as: 1. Working in the theatre world, from stage managing to production managing 2. Working in the corporate world in administration. Then one day I decided I needed to get educated and, with encouragement, went for a dream: ‘Go to university and get an education!’ I studied at Macquarie University and received a BA with a major in Psychology. Then, at the Jansen Newman Institute, I completed a Graduate Diploma in Individual Psychotherapy and Relationship Therapy.
Since 2002, I have been in my third career path as a psychotherapist and counsellor. I have a background working with drug and alcohol related issues, and the issues associated with substance misuse. Currently, I work part-time as a peer support worker for clients with a mental illness, in Aftercare’s Personal Helpers and Mentors Program (PHaMs). I also have my own private practice in Wollongong, working with individuals, couples and doing group work. I’m continually blown away by the strength of people, when given the opportunity to find their own answers in the right environment. And I really enjoy running yoga laughter groups, as I believe we can never laugh enough!
I’ve been a member of CAPA NSW since 2002, and have now been co-opted as the Membership Chair. This is another adventure, to support our membership so we gain the recognition as an alternative, professional group of registered psychotherapists and counsellors.
Welcome back: President: Maxine Rosenfield Secretary: Jennifer Heward Treasurer: Campbell Forsyth Ethics Chair: Jeni Marin Rural and Regional Liaison Chair: Phil Hough Read their profiles online at www.capa.asn.au
in memory… Annette Livas
14 November 1965 – 23 October 2010 Annette Livas, a psychoanalyst and valued member of the CAPA NSW community, passed away on 23 October, aged 44. Annette had a passion for working with children and their families, inspired in part by her own three children and the challenge of her youngest child being diagnosed with autism. With her husband, John, Annette established and worked in the Family Solutions charity, to help support children with autistic spectrum disorders, and their families. In 2006, Annette was diagnosed with melanoma. Despite this, she continued with her work as long as she was able. The CAPA NSW community remembers Annette with warmth and respect, and we send our heartfelt sympathies to her family at this time.
regional and rural page MISSED THE SANDPLAY THERAPY PDE IN SYDNEY??? Want a repeat in your area???
Sandplay – Gail Pemberton’
The Regional and Rural (RnR) Committee asks simply for your assistance to: • Find us a local venue – perhaps negotiate with a local person • Recommend a great local sandwich shop for catering • Recommend/assist with finding local accommodation options for attendees • Network locally for attendees • Assist on the ground • Arrange key pick-up etc ORGANISING BY DISTANCE DOES NOT FAZE US!!! Contact Phil on email@example.com Regional and Rural Members, THIS IS YOUR BOX!! What do you want to ask or discuss?? Email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can get some interaction happening. Q. What is Skype and how can it assist regional counsellors? A. Skype is a way of communicating live over the internet, either by typing only, or with sound and vision. You need an internet connection and a web camera for the instant video component (recommended). If your computer doesn’t have a microphone, you’ll need a headset (to speak and hear). You can also just chat by typing a conversation without using video or sound. It’s free to download and use – your only costs are the time spent on the internet through your internet provider. Skype uses a number of methods to ensure privacy and security. Some counsellors use Skype for counselling and supervision. The instructions on the website make downloading, installing and use quite simple. To have a look, go to www.skype.com.
City-Country Experiences: A Regional and Rural Perspective At the CAPA NSW Conference in May, the RnR Committee presented a workshop, to share some views of regional and rural counselling. A small andinteresting group represented counsellors from both city and country – a pleasure for us, since we wanted to investigate how all members can benefit from each others’ worldviews. We sought to define current problems, including any barriers or blocks. Questions to consider included: ‘How do we work together?’ ‘What do we need to make the space less cloudy, or to embrace it?’ The second task was to brainstorm: • current solutions • solutions required • p ositive experiences in defeating issues of distance/isolation. Just as many questions were raised as resolved. Many provided perfect topics to be followed-up with the Ethics, Membership, PDE, Admin and Executive Committees. Some themes included: Interaction – many regional and rural counsellors know no one in their area. Some lack networks or are the only person in town. Other health professionals/networks may be hard to access. Supervision is by phone or involves a day’s drive. Other professionals for referrals are often lacking because they either don’t exist or for various reasons aren’t an option. Discussion occurred around creating a ‘Telephone Tree’ (names and contact details of other professionals) for members to use. Confidentiality – potential clients may fear consulting a local counsellor in small towns. Many travel to other locations for counselling, to maintain their anonymity. Counsellors also know clients through school, tennis, clubs, other social networks, and this is unavoidable. Blurred boundaries and dual relationships are often a normality. Many ethical guidelines are often too
general to provide helpful advice. Previous delays in gaining ethical advice from CAPA NSW mean that critical incidents are difficult to manage alone. Communication – communicating with CAPA NSW from a distance is often difficult. Professionally, communication is also a struggle. Many regional counsellors either don’t have access to, or lack knowledge of, recent advances in communications technology such as Skype, chat rooms or other internet based methods. Postal services also take much longer to arrive in regional and rural areas. Professional Development – is often expensive and time-consuming to attend, as it usually involves transport, accommodation, and all those other time and monetary expenses related to leaving home and family. Counsellors who lack regional networks also generally lack access to local training networks. Organising a regional workshop involves strategising around IT or other technical issues, finding local networks, and also planning for participants who travel a distance. Telephone Counselling – while it’s acknowledged that this occurs regularly, especially in regional areas, telephone hours are currently capped at 25% of the total counselling hours for CAPA NSW membership. Also, crisis counselling by phone is not recognised, whereas face-to-face crisis counselling is not excluded in this way. This area was identified as one that needs pursuing by the Membership Committee. CAPA NSW Website – ideally needs to be more interactive, and also contain more resources for members to access advice, support or education. More specific informational resources related to counselling (how to keep records, log hours etc) would also be helpful. Funding for Regional Members – equal access to CAPA NSW PDEs or other often city based CAPA NSW events is essential.
Transactional Analysis 101 Two day Workshop
G de ain ve pr lop ofe me ss nt ion po al int s
The Introductory Workshop covers the thinking and philosophy of Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis Model: • Parent, Adult, Child personality structure • “the games people play” • “I’m OK, you’re OK” positions
• the victim, persecutor and rescuer triangle • life scripts
The Transactional Analysis Introductory Workshop is a program for: • counsellors • teachers • psychotherapists
• group facilitators • consultants • managers
• team leaders • people in the helping profession • self development
The program is ideal for people who seek practical skills and theoretical perspectives that will improve communication and contribute to the development of meaningful interpersonal relationships.
The workshop will provide participants with an opportunity to: • Learn about the theory and practice of Transactional Analysis • Increase personal awareness • Improve communication skills • Identify models and patterns of communication • Develop healthy professional relationships
Participants in the introductory workshop will have achieved the following learning outcomes: • The basic Transactional Analysis theory • The structural Model of Ego-States – What makes us who we are? • Why do we think, feel, and behave the way we do? • An understanding of life scripts. The life plan we unconsciously make in early life and then live out. • An understanding of psychological games we play. • How these begin and end. An understanding of repetitive patterns we play out in relationships
Facilitator: Elana Leigh B.Sc. Social Work (University of Cape Town). MSc. Integrative Psychotherapy (Middlesex London) Certified Transactional Analyst CTA and Training and Supervising Transactional Analyst TSTA (ITAA).
Elana has trained and supervised nationally and internationally across a range of cultures for the past 26 years. Her specialty is long term training where the task is to take trainees through the rigorous journey of becoming an ethical professional. Having been trained as an integrative psychotherapist, her passion lies in integration and diversity in both theory and application. Elana is actively involved both nationally and internationally on bodies which maintain and advance training standards in the field of psychotherapy. She currently works as a psychotherapist in private practice, supervisor and trainer in Sydney.
Workshop Details: Date: (all workshops run Saturday and Sunday) 5th & 6th February 2011 4th & 5th June 2011 12th & 13th November 2011 Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm (please be there by 9.15am) Cost: $275.00 – (includes GST) Venue: 3 Church Street Waverley, 2024 Registration: You can register for this workshop online at www.acissydney.com.au
For more information and other courses, go to www.acissydney.com.au
3 Church St, Waverley, NSW 2024 P: (02) 9386 1600 E: email@example.com W: www.acissydney.com.au
seeking the sacred
rev dr stephanie dowrick
Reverend Dr Stephanie Dowrick, PhD, is the author of five bestselling books, including Intimacy and Solitude, Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love, The Universal Heart and Choosing Happiness: Life and Soul Essentials. After studying and practising psychotherapy, Stephanie went on to be ordained as an Interfaith Minister in 2005. She has given talks and conducted retreats and workshops over many years, on a variety of spiritual, psychological and ethical issues. Stephanie has been the ‘Inner Life’ columnist for Good Weekend Magazine since 2001 (Sydney Morning Herald and The Age). She also gives monthly Interfaith services and weekly meditations in Sydney. Her latest book, Seeking the Sacred, is due out in November. For more information, visit www.stephaniedowrick.com
Rev Dr Stephanie Dowrick was interviewed by Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar, Editor
Before you became an Interfaith Minister, you were a psychotherapist and writer/publisher. Could you share something of what initially drew you to psychotherapy? Perhaps I need to say right away that I haven't stopped being a writer – on the contrary! That's my primary work and I hope to continue it until the end of my life. Also, I remain as interested as I ever was in the ways of thinking about human existence and human potential that psychotherapy articulates and encourages. Interfaith ministry is part of that work more generally – and it extends it. It also, of course, draws attention to my interest in spiritual development and my ambitions to contribute something inspirational in that field. That makes it possible for people to ask different things of me - and for me to ask
different things of myself also. So, to your question about what drew me to psychotherapy. Two things stand out. First, I lived in Europe, mostly London, for almost sixteen years. During that time I began to work in publishing, which I loved. Then, in 1977, I was given the extraordinary opportunity to establish and then run a feminist publishing house. That was The Women's Press. As our brief rapidly evolved, we wanted to be at the cutting edge of all the significant areas of investigation that women were exploring at that time. Psychoanalysis, and the psychotherapy ‘project’ more generally, were central to that. My interest from a publishing perspective was both political and intellectual: the questions of ‘interpretation’, perspective, attitude, expectation all needed to be reinvestigated. At the most basic level,
the behaviour one therapist might regard as pathological another might regard as liberating. It was a hugely noisy, exhilarating conversation, and it fascinated me. The second reason for my engagement was far more personal. By my late twenties I was more successful professionally than I could ever have imagined as a girl, growing up in New Zealand. I had a wonderful group of friends. My life was fascinating, effective and very busy. Yet I was still at the mercy of painful feelings of self-doubt, emptiness and sometimes the anguish of depression. Some of it could be traced back to the fundamental grief of my life which was the death of my mother when she was thirty-eight and I was eight, and a lack of closeness with my father. In the midst of that, I recognised that help might indeed ‘help’.
My first intense therapy was psychoanalytic. In retrospect, I believe it harmed me, not because my therapist was in any way insincere or failing in her eagerness to be effective, but because the paradigm from which she worked was, I came to see, exclusively focused on the difficulties in my life, as though recognising them or even reliving them would be enough to enable me to move on. That was not true for me; quicksand comes to mind. What did help me was that around that same time (the early 1980s), I was already reading widely in object relations theory, and did courses where I could. I also studied and trained in psychosynthesis which took a more holistic and more optimistic view of what it is to be a human being and what ‘becoming oneself’ might potentially mean. And how did you get from there to becoming a Reverend? What did that path look like? Between that time as a publisher in London, and then coming to Australia in 1983, having my children, and writing my books – perhaps especially Intimacy and Solitude which is, I believe, a genuinely humanistic, even compassionate re-interpretation of object relations theory – I gradually deepened my perspective so that by the early 1990s I felt increasingly confident to write, teach and comment from a more openly spiritual as well as psychological perspective. Spirituality became over time a greater passion for me than psychotherapy, offering a more effective and inclusive ‘view’, without leaving that hard-won depth of psychological understanding and insight behind.
At the heart of spirituality is our increasing capacity to understand ourselves as part of a greater whole. I would like to add, though, that I have always been interested in these questions also from a social perspective. By that I mean, I am extremely interested in the way society shapes us as individuals – AND also how we are affecting society, how we are influencing others, consciously and unconsciously. I am very interested in questions of selfresponsibility, agency, engagement: the things that let us grow up, including the hard questions about our ethical and moral responsibilities to others. I see that kind of understanding and knowledge as liberating, not restricting. What are your thoughts on the concepts of religion and spirituality – are these two different phenomena, or are they just different semantically? And how might that impact the way you work with them? Religion and religions may sometimes be worlds apart! And yet how can we forget that at the heart of all the world's religions are profound teachings about how we should care for one another, value ourselves and others, care for the physical world on which we depend. The institutions of religion often forsake that, however, ruled by what exactly...? We could name tribalism, pragmatism, sometimes even versions of nihilism from which spirituality ought to rescue us! I have spent a lot of time over my adult
lifetime with religious groups of many kinds. They are all human institutions, variously flawed, as we also are. And all, as I have said, have at their heart sublime teachings to which we may choose, sadly, to be deaf. I don't see ‘spirituality’ as a purer form of religion. It's a looser term but people can also make something highly self-interested out of their ideas about what spirituality is. It can be superficial and narcissistic. My sense is strong that what really counts is how people interpret their lives, including their religious or spiritual ideals: who and what they genuinely value and are willing to explore and express. Some have said that psychotherapy, itself, is a spiritual pursuit of sorts. What are your thoughts? When it works well – that is, when the psychotherapist him- or herself takes their own development seriously and persistently and is able to be genuinely present in any open-minded way with clients – psychotherapy may include or embrace spiritual elements. It is not of itself ‘spiritual’, in my view, particularly where there is no interest in the guiding values or broad sense of meaning in a person's life, or where there is little or no vocabulary to explore how that client is affecting others, as well as being affected. We may also be afraid to talk about the centrality of someone's relationship with God: it can feel like a taboo or just ‘impossible’, yet this relationship may be as complex, problematic and passionate as any other. Maybe more so, for some. At the heart of spirituality is our increasing capacity to understand ourselves as part of a greater whole. Coming with that are very real responsibilities about how we will affect
TALKING THERAPIES other people, what we will regard as important, and of course how we will regard ourselves. This last is critical. The key theme in my own new book, Seeking the Sacred, is that when we are able to think about our own lives as sacred, and not just as disappointing or neurotic or flawed, and when we are able to recognise in a deep way the intrinsic value of others' lives (and not just the value of people who are useful to us, or who protect or flatter us), this will literally transform our way of seeing the outer world also and interacting with it.
I would love to see a real change whereby all therapists and counsellors were encouraged to explore openly and continuously what they regard as ‘spiritual’ challenges, first for themselves: what are the spiritual challenges in their own lives? I see this ‘shift’ as the necessary revolution that we need at this time, not least for combating the vast addiction we as a human family have to violence and to solving our problems violently. I was inspired in this by many teachers but also by Jung's words: ‘The modern world is desacralised, that is why it is in crisis. The modern person must rediscover a deeper source of his [and her] own spiritual life.’ What is that source? How is it expressed in our lives and attitudes? How does it form us? These are fascinating and urgent questions. Are there any particular therapeutic modalities that you feel work well with people’s sense of spirituality? The obvious answers would be psychosynthesis and some forms of Jungian analysis, although much would always depend on the levels of insight and personal work done by the therapist. There are also now Hakomi and Buddhist psychotherapies offering new
choices. And some somatic therapists are highly tuned to the spiritual – which is after all ‘lived’ in human bodies and all other forms of life. But in the end it will come down to what the therapist or counsellor believes is important and how they consciously and especially unconsciously ‘allow’ and disallow certain experiences, and privilege some kinds of explorations and insights over others. I would love to see a real change whereby all therapists and counsellors were encouraged to explore openly and continuously what they regard as ‘spiritual’ challenges, first for themselves: what are the spiritual challenges in their own lives? How are they are approaching them and allowing themselves to be changed by them? Can any of us afford NOT to question our most basic spiritual assumptions, including about what does and does not ground us in the heart of our lives, create meaning, allow for a bigger view, and a more respectful one? Including out attitudes to life and death? To the eternal, to the unseen, to the insoluble? In my ideal world, this would be a central part of our understanding of what it means to be human and therefore a central part of the ongoing training/ inner development that all therapists need until the day on which we hang up our shingle. As an Interfaith Minister, do you still have a ‘home faith’? How do you work with spiritual beliefs that might conflict with your own, or with people who might challenge your particular deity? And do you have any suggestions for therapists who might face similar situations? Let me answer the easier of your questions first! My home faith is Christianity but I spent many years of my life away from it also, and over the last thirty years or so immersed myself deeply also in other faiths, especially eastern spirituality. Now I am able to understand Christ's teachings with increasing appreciation and also frustration that his calls to inclusiveness, love, joy and forgiveness are so often ignored in Christian settings! Clearly, I have been ‘formed’ by that variety of experience and by living in a number of different countries, also. I spent many years with the Quakers (Religious
12 Society of Friends). In my childhood we were both Protestants and, after my mother's death, Catholics. I now give my spiritually inclusive services in Sydney in a Uniting Church – and still work often with Catholic groups. My bias is towards mystical, inclusive teachings grounded in an ethical awareness and responsibility.
If our own beliefs cause us problems in being with people whose views are very different from our own, this is rich territory for urgent self-investigation. How do I work with spiritual beliefs different from mine? Most crucially, I don't have to be ‘right’! That's harder than it may first seem – most of us adore being ‘right’ and may even need it to feel ‘all right’. If our own beliefs cause us problems in being with people whose views are very different from our own, this is rich territory for urgent self-investigation. Therapy with someone interested in these issues, and who understands how inevitably they shape us, is certainly called for. We should not be working with people if we want to influence them to believe as we do. It is deeply helpful to know what has helped us in our most bleak moments – and to know that this is not a ‘recipe’ for others necessarily. Relying on spiritual strengths is a life-saver, but it needs to be explored with great respect for differences in outlook, culture and experience. There are some interesting overlaps between deeply spiritual experiences and some of the symptoms listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) – hearing voices or being ‘spoken to’, having visions or hallucinations, experiencing heightened levels of déjà vu or feeling ‘watched over’ or perhaps even ‘persecuted’. Do you have any thoughts on how therapists might navigate this terrain respectfully with their clients, yet still uphold their professional duty of care to refer people on when necessary?
13 I believe that it is really clear when someone is ‘hearing voices’ in a clinical sense and in a way that could lead to harm or self-harm. That needs the highest levels of professional care and responsibility in referring on. It's so different when someone is tuning into their higher self, or engaging in an inner dialogue or writing in their journal to access their own inner wisdom. The whole tone is different. So is the experience and even what is discovered. I am extremely cautious wherever there is grandiosity involved - or an inauthentic sense of ‘specialness’ masking a lack of self. Visions? Not a common problem, I believe! Most spiritual teachers would say, ‘You will get over it!’ But visualising is something different. My experience of guided meditation and also guided imagery work is very similar: settling, inspiring, creative and expanding. The same could be said for authentic dream work. What are dreams but messages from the less constricted mind? But not all of them need attention. In therapy circles, ‘the person of the therapist’ is a term often used to highlight the role of the practitioner – something one sort of ‘steps into’ before the work begins. Do you have an equivalent ‘person of the minister’? How might the people inside these roles continue nourishing their own spirituality? What a great question because wherever the role is confused with the complex and, in part, unknowable self, or is required to stand in for it, we will have problems. And we will cause problems. The archetypes of healer, therapist, priest, minister are all powerful. How easy it is to be sucked in or even wholly persuaded by them.
It takes such courage to live an open-minded, enquiring life, a life of constant learning and increasing connection to self, others, this complex physical world, the sacred or God. But surely anything smaller fails to honour the gifts of this existence. We should all be extremely careful, particularly of the projections we invite, as well as those we are simply ‘receiving’ – and often not so simply. How ‘important’ do we need to be to others? What is this compensating for in our own lives and most hidden sense of self? How ready are we to look at all the other roles we play and how ready, even eager are we sometimes to be a participant rather than leader, client rather than therapist, student rather than teacher? Should we be "inside" our roles at all? These are wonderful questions to raise in peer supervision and also in our own self-enquiry through journal writing. I think everything I have said makes it clear that the quality of our work will depend absolutely on the curiosity, commitment, tolerance and the humility we bring to our own development first. Our work as therapists is merely one expression of that; never the sole one. I have learned as much, probably far more, from being a mother than from all my study and book writing.
You know that I wrote my doctoral thesis on Rilke, and then a book [In the Company of Rilke]. ‘Love the questions,’ said Rilke. And then live into the answers rather than feeling an ‘answer’ is always and immediately needed. He also wrote, ‘Let everything happen, beauty and terror.’ In other words, don't hide from the complexity of who you are, including your own strengths and beauty. It takes such courage to live an open-minded, enquiring life, a life of constant learning and increasing connection to self, others, this complex physical world, the sacred or God. But surely anything smaller fails to honour the gifts of this existence. I think that's my guiding principle! In that way, Seeking the Sacred is the most autobiographical of my books. And it's taken me years to be ready to write it.
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integrating spirituality: a vital role for psychotherapy
‘Integration is at the heart of well-being’ - Daniel Siegel
Introduction In this paper I explore the vital role psychotherapy can play in supporting clients to integrate and embody their spirituality in as healthy a way as possible. I define spirituality as a process of overcoming self-centredness and argue that an understanding of modern western spiritual forms requires grappling with the nature of cultural/ spiritual hybridity and the notion of perennialism. Although I affirm the possible therapeutic value of spirituality, my focus in this article is problematic forms of spirituality, of which I name three: (i) spiritual bypassing, (ii) spiritual narcissism and (iii) dis-integrated spirituality. After outlining various criteria for assessing healthy and unhealthy forms of spirituality, I turn to how psychotherapy can provide the space and tools to support clients to integrate and embody their spirituality. I argue that if spirituality can create problems with lack of integration of the various life domains clients inhabit (somatic process, emotions, thoughts, sexuality, relationships to name a few) the more holistic a therapeutic approach, the greater the ability provide integration.
Locating modern western spirituality: hybridisation More often than not, therapists
need to contend with issues of religious and spiritual hybridisation (Lahood 2008) when joining with clients and their spiritual concerns. Hybridisation ‘concerns the ambiguous mixture of things, processes, and phenomenon—which are thought to be unlike, different, separate, disparate, and unequal— into novel cultural and religious forms’ (Lahood 2010, p.5). In our era of globalisation and the new age (Hanegraff 1998), time-honored boundaries between religious/spiritual traditions and practices are becoming blurred through various cultural processes of borrowings and meaning making. This process is embodied in various ways by our clients.
…I would affirm that often a therapist needs to create a new of understanding of spirituality with each client. In my own practice, in the Northern Rivers Area of NSW, near Byron Bay, an area renowned for its mélange of spiritual forms and open spiritual experimentation, the spiritual life that clients bring to therapy can often be a syncretic blend of various traditions and practices.
Understanding the complexities of hybridity within the cultural, and new age, spaces that make up modern western spirituality is a powerful hermeneutic tool that can strongly support therapists to meet their clients. In the spirit of Yalom’s (2002) admonition that a therapist needs to create a new therapy with each client, I would affirm that often a therapist needs to create a new of understanding of spirituality with each client.
Defining spirituality: overcoming selfcentredness Creating a new understanding of spirituality with each client notwithstanding, as therapy is not politically neutral (Samuels 1993), in this section I articulate a broad definition of spirituality which I am drawn to and which influences my work. Ferrer (2002) states ‘the ocean shared by most…spiritual… traditions does not correspond to a single spiritual referent or to “things as they really are” but, perhaps, more humbly, to the overcoming of self-centredness, and thus a liberation from corresponding limiting perspectives and understandings’(p.145). To Vaughn and Walsh (1993), writing in the transpersonal psychology tradition, spirituality involves ‘experiences
in which ‘the sense of identity of self extends beyond (trans) the individual or personal to encompass aspects of humankind, life, psyche or cosmos’(p.203). The argument I will begin to develop below is that whereas spirituality aims to extend and expand a person’s sense of self, psychotherapy can provide an important support in helping to actualise this process in an integrative and embodied manner. This support is often needed as the engagement of spiritual practices aimed at overcoming self-centredness often results in its opposite (Kornfield 1993, Battista 1996). I will now focus on how spirituality can lead in this opposite direction.
Spirituality as supporting or hindering personal growth Spirituality can be part of the problem or part of the solution (Pargament 2007) through either supporting or hindering client personal growth. That spirituality can be part of the solution and support personal growth, physical health and psychological wellbeing is, according to two prominent American researchers, ‘turning out to be a robust clinical variable’ (Sperry & Shafranske 2005 p.11). I am not arguing that spirituality is problematic per se. The focus on this article is how certain forms of spirituality can hinder personal growth. I will focus on three ways spirituality may hinder personal growth and thus be deemed problematic: (i) spiritual bypassing (Wellwood 2000), (ii) spiritual narcissism (Ferrer 2002), (iii) disintegrated spirituality (Pargament 2007).
Spiritual bypassing: Wellwood (2000) came up with the term ‘spiritual bypassing’ to articulate ‘a tendency to use spiritual practice to bypass or avoid dealing with certain personal or emotional “unfinished business”’ (p.11). To Wellwood, the spiritual yearning to find release from ‘all the earthly structures that seem to entrap us…such as our circumstances, relationships, personalities, bodies’…
often leads to the use of spirituality to ‘try to rise above our emotional and personal issues…and avoid or prematurely transcend basic human needs, feelings and developmental tasks’ (2000 p.12). Battista (1996) calls this process defensive spirituality where ‘spiritual defences’, such as the embodiment of certain worldviews, ‘keep people from expressing their actual, embodied, emotional self’ (p.251). A psychotherapy that is aware of spiritual bypassing and that can focus on supporting clients to become acquainted with the various life domains that their spirituality is bypassing is not only profoundly therapeutic but can deepen a client’s spirituality in many ways (Kornfield 1993, Wellwood 2000, Heron 1998, Heron 2006).
Spiritual narcissism According to Evans (1993), ‘spirituality consists primarily of a basic transformative process in which we encounter and let go of our narcissism’ (p.4). He continues by suggesting that any authentic spiritual transformation ‘involves a shedding of narcissism, self-centredness, self-separation, selfpre-occupation, and so on’ (p.158). Spiritual narcissism is the direct opposite of the above description, and reflects where spirituality is used to strengthen a sense of self or selfcentred ways of being. Chogyam Trungpa (1987), came up with the term ‘spiritual materialism’ to refer to ‘an ego-centred version of spirituality (in which) we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthening our ego-centricity through spiritual techniques (as cited in Ferrer 2002 p.35). Although clients who have a strong ‘spiritual narcissist process’ may not find themselves too readily in therapy (Battista 1996), exploration of their spiritual identity, their misuse of spiritual practice and its consequences is a starting point for this work. A solid understating of various spiritual practice can help therapists join clients who are strongly attached to their spiritual practice.
Dis-integrated spirituality To Pargament (2007), disintegrated spirituality is where the various domains of a person’s life are ‘out of balance and working against each other’ (p.134). This involves situations where clients may find their spirituality conflicting with their close relationships, where their intellect may war with the vital needs of their body, where the spiritual path they are on does not seem to lead to the spiritual goal they are aiming at: ‘problems of spiritual pathways’ (Pargament 2002, p.151) and ‘problems of spiritual destinations’ (p.129). Any therapeutic approach that looks at resolving conflicts that clients have with their spiritual concerns is yet another support towards enhancing their spiritual life. The aim here is holistic; to create greater communication between all the various domains of a person’s life and thus to support a healthier integration and embodiment of a client’s spirituality. In the words of Ferrer (2003), ‘embodied spirituality is integrative insofar as it seeks to foster the harmonious participation of all human attributes in the spiritual path without tensions or dissociations. (p.5). Ferrer (2002) calls the opposite to this integrated and embodied spirituality ‘integrative arrestment’ (p.36), where certain domains of human experience are more developed than others.
Perennialism: a particular problem in contemporary western spirituality and often at the heart of problematic forms of spirituality A problem that I often encounter in my practice is a belief in the idea of the ‘one truth’ that supposedly underlies all religions or spirituality. In the literature, this is called perennialism (Lahood 2008, Heron 1998 & 2006, Ferrer 2002) after Aldous Huxley’s (1945) influential book The Perennial Philosophy which claimed that underneath all religions and spiritual traditions lies one truth. In the words of Jaenke (2003), ‘the metaphysical assumption of a single
ultimate spiritual reality that is both pregiven and universal…is captured by the analogy “all rivers lead to one ocean”’ (p.10). Lahood, (2008), argues that beneath the multifarious hybridised versions of contemporary western popular spirituality what is often found are allegiances to an eastern version of transcendent reality; a state of oneness to which this world is but an illusion. I believe that inquiring into contemporary forms of western spirituality will reveal traces of this common pattern. In my corner of the woods, just outside Byron Bay, NSW, this worldview is highly prevalent.
Spirituality can be part of the problem or part of the solution… The practical consequences of adhering and attempting to embody such a worldview can often lead to the three problematic forms of spirituality named above. Spiritual bypassing can easily occur if this world is deemed unimportant or an illusion. If the transcendent oneness is what I should focus on then I will most likely not attend to many important areas of my life. Spiritual narcissism can arise through attempts to identify with this oneness, often leading to inflation, dissociation and interpersonal difficulties (Ferrer 2002). Dis-integrated spirituality can arise through the conflicts that can occur between the idealised transcendent oneness and the claims of ‘this world’ such as work, relational and ethical commitments. Perennialism, of one sort of another, is such a ubiquitous facet of contemporary forms of western spirituality, so prevalent that authors (Hanegraff 1998, Lahood 2008) have attempted to bring to light its globalising character, a subtle colonialism of the spirit (Lahood 2008). It is often at the heart of spiritually oriented psychotherapy models, such as found within and
influenced by Ken Wilber’s (1986, 1999) work. Wilber, in numerous publications over the last thirty years, has attempted to bridge spirituality and western psychotherapy through the creation of a synthetic, integral and developmental model which posits an eastern form on oneness, or non-duality, as the highest pinnacle of human development. This model has been hugely influential in the area of transpersonal studies and spiritually oriented psychotherapy (Sperry 2001), and I mention it here to highlight its prevalence and to raise awareness of the possible consequences of its use in clinical practice. In the context of my argument, there are two fundamental problems to it: (i) its allegiance to an eastern ‘oneness/ non-duality/emptiness’ as the truth of all religions is an ethnocentric claim to that can silence cultural difference (e.g. Indigenous Australians don’t traditionally believe this), and can lead therapists to ‘homogenise’ (Ferrer 2002, p.101) clients’ spiritual experience, and (ii) my argument is that a focus on the end goal of the spiritual life as ‘oneness’ is often at the heart of the spiritual problems outlined above.
Criteria for evaluating spirituality in therapeutic practice Being clear on how we, as therapists, evaluate healthy or problematic forms of spirituality is vitally important in making sound therapeutic decisions. Pargament (2007) offers three criteria therapists can evaluate a client’s spirituality with: (i) truth based criteria, which focus on whether what the client is talking about is ‘true’ or ‘real’, (ii) pragmatic criteria, in the same vein as William James’ (1902), who in his classic, The varieties of Religious Experience, argued that the value of religion is its practical fruits; these pragmatic criteria focus on whether the practical consequences of the client’s spirituality is useful to them, the wider community, or not and (iii)
process criteria, where the therapist assesses whether clients appear integrated and congruent (Pargament 2007, p.133). Whereas in my practice I prefer to put my therapeutic focus primarily on the last two forms of criteria, the usefulness of the practical consequences of a client’s spiritual life and how congruent and integrated a client appears in relationship to the various domains of their life, some therapists and some therapeutic schools may want to make a stronger alignment with notions of truth and ‘the real’ when it comes to spirituality. Although I certainly believe that some situations call strongly for ‘reality testing’ or confronting problematic forms of spirituality, I believe I can undertake this in a therapeutic manner without needing to rely on notions of truth. Even where there is the need for hospitalisation due to delusion I can still ground my actions based on the second and third criteria: a client needs psychiatric support due to problematic consequences of their spiritual practice/worldview, including lack of integration and coherence with what is taken for commonsense reality. It is my belief that spirituality can be engaged within therapy without being constrained by simplistic notions of truth. Spirituality’s validity in people’s lives can take many forms (Heron 1998, Heron 2006).
Embodied spirituality and integrative psychotherapy I have used the term embodiment in relation to spirituality various times in this article and it could seem a fairly redundant usage as all forms of spirituality are embodied in one way or another. Yet, as various proponents would argue (see Coakley 1997, Law 1995, Ferrer 2008), many religious and spiritual traditions and practices can be called disembodied through their ignoring of vital facets of the whole person and rendering them illegitimate as ‘reliable sources of spiritual insight in their own
right’ (Ferrer 2003, p.1). Some of these domains of the whole person (i.e. somatic process, emotions, sexuality, relationships) have often been articulated as a ‘hindrance to spiritual flourishing – a view that often has often led to the repression, regulation or transformation of these worlds at the service of “higher” goals of spiritualised consciousness’ (ibid.). The notion of embodied spirituality, a spirituality that does not denigrate facets of the whole person but embraces all of who we are (our bodily and emotional life, our thoughts, visions and aspirations, our relationships, sexuality and much else) as equal partners in our spiritual life, is a useful heuristic that, I believe, psychotherapy can usefully work with in understanding dis-embodied and unintegrated spirituality.
A holistic approach to spiritual concerns In general, working holistically means my attention is paid to each facet of the client equally (Brownell 2010), not one area being prioritised over another. In focusing on helping clients to integrate and embody their spirituality in the healthiest manner possible, my holistic focus is changed. In these cases my intention is to support the client to become acquainted with and to participate in the life of the various areas of their being that is not being addressed by their spiritual practice. Specifically, when working with clients who bring problematic forms of spirituality, such as the three outlined above, and consequent issues arising from adhering to some form of perennialism, I find that my work often involves a tripartite focus: on somatic process, on the emotional life and on interpersonal dynamics.
Somatic process and the emotional life I primarily work from a neohumanistic, relational and processexperiential therapeutic approach with all clients (Greenberg, Watson
& Lietaer 1998). Within the processexperiential tradition a basic tenet is that ‘people experience the world in the present in their bodies… they gush with feeling and sensation before any words provide containers for their feelings (Greenberg 2002, p.18). Somatic process and affect arise before language and cognition and Leslie Greenberg (2002) has outlined an emotion-focused therapy perspective which articulates a way of resolving personal difficulties that involves accessing somatic process and affect prior to working with reasoning and processes of narrative making (2006). Within this tradition listening to the voice of one’s somatic and emotional life can provide vital data about important self needs and action tendencies. This data can vastly inform and enrich reasoning and life choices due to being based on information gleaned from manifold regions of one’s life.
It is my belief that spirituality can be engaged with in therapy without being constrained by simplistic notions of truth. In a similar vein, Hinterkopf (2008) has reworked Gendlin’s (1996) body-oriented therapy method, Focusing, into a spiritually oriented therapeutic approach that places client congruence between the body, the emotions and the mind at the heart of the work, where creating dialogue between all these domains is the way to health. This way of working, I find, is suitable to clients struggling with spiritual concerns, as outlined above. In my experience, spiritual bypassing (Wellwood 2000) and dis-integrated spirituality (Pargament 2007), are highly prevalent, with many clients struggling with conflicts between
spiritual ideals and the needs of the body and emotional life. Often spirituality is embraced by people in a highly intellectual manner and the best way I know of how to address such issues is to help clients access their somatic and emotional experience and allow the added information they now have to support them in making healthier, more integrated and embodied, choices in their life. This way of working does not denigrate cognition, thought processes or thinking but simply gives reasoning and decision making greater access to information of personal significance on which to base its choices.
Spirituality and the relational life Problematic forms of spirituality, such as the three outlined previously, can often lead to a variety of interpersonal difficulties. If, for example, oneness and nonattachment is a goal of the spiritual life then how do you manage attachment and the messy emotions that arise from relationships? Often people take up various solo spiritual practices in order to transform interpersonal difficulties with dubious results (Kornfield 1993). According to John Heron (2006), ‘many basic modes of human development – e.g. those to do with gender, psychosexuality, emotional and interpersonal skills, communicative competence, morality, to name but a few – unfold through engagement with other people (p.7). For Heron, ‘the spirituality that is the fullest development of these modes can only be achieved through relational forms of practice (ibid.). Psychotherapy can provide such a ‘relational form of practice’ which not only heals interpersonal difficulties brought about by problematic forms of spirituality but is also able to enhance and deepen a client’s spirituality within the relational domain. I personally find that working interpersonally, in the here and
now, utilising the ‘real relationship’ (Duquette 2010) and how I am being impacted by the client is very helpful for clients ‘to begin to develop some awareness of the way in which aspects of their characterological styles (interpersonal spiritual habits) and unconscious ways of being may impact on others’ (Safran & Muran 2000, p.126). Two further ways that help me raise awareness of a client’s interpersonal dynamics are (i) the notion of modifications to contact from Gestalt therapy (Mackewn 1997), which gives me a template to work in the here and now and explore how the client moves out of contact with me and in which way this is related to his spiritual life and (ii) the processes of interpersonal dynamic psychotherapy, as outlined by Levenson (2010). These are very useful in framing the problematic issues a client brings to therapy within an interpersonal dynamic framework related to a client’s spiritual life.
Loss Often the clients’ work of embodiment leads to feelings of loss, of losing cherished notions and ideals that, in the face of somatic, emotional needs and relational needs, do not seem as important or valid (Kornfield 1993, Wellwood 2000). This process of loss can involve a letting go of spiritual forms which do not serve the client, allowing an opening to the new and may also deepen their spirituality as they uncover more important needs and spiritual yearnings. These two processes are not mutually exclusive.
Conclusion In this paper, I have argued that psychotherapy can play a vital role in supporting the healthy embodiment and integration of spirituality within the various domains of their life, what Wellwood (2000) calls ‘embodying our realisation’ (p.1993). I argued that a therapist does not have to problematise spirituality per se but can work with its consequences by focusing on integrating and embodying it, a process that may lead to the loss of
cherished spiritual goals, notions and attachments, yet may also lead to a deepening of a client’s spirituality. In order to support a therapist in assessing spirituality in clinical practice, I outlined three criteria for assessing spirituality’s validity and offered an outline of various approaches to working with somatic process, affect and interpersonal issues which may help in the work on integration and embodiment. What this paper does not explore is the other side of the ‘grounding’ and integration of spirituality in psychotherapy: the much more complex and thorny issue of how psychotherapy can be framed as a spiritual undertaking which promotes ‘a fuller participation’ (Ferrer 2002, p.145) in the various spiritual worlds articulated by the many spiritual traditions we have access to. I have no doubt that psychotherapy can be framed in this manner, although that inquiry will be left to another piece of writing. Pedro Campiao
Pedro Campiao (BA (Religion & Philosophy), Grad Dip Counselling, MGestalt Therapy (Enrolled), Grad Cert Education, Cert Somatic Psychotherapy, Cert IV Training & Assessment) works in the Northern Rivers of NSW as a psychotherapist and group facilitator in private practice and as a counsellor for NSW Health. He is the Director of The Space Between Therapy Centre in Mullumbimby. Pedro Campiao is PACFA registered. www.pcampiao.com Any comments or suggestions are welcome.
References 1. Brownell, P 2010, Gestalt therapy: A guide to contemporary practice, Springer Publishing Company, New York. 2. Battista, JR 1996, ‘Offensive spirituality and spiritual defences’ in Eds. Scotton, BW, Chinen, AB & Battista, JR Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology. Basic Books, USA. 3. Coackley, S (Ed) 1997 Religion and the Body, Cambridge University Press, New York. 4. Duquette, P 2010, ‘Reality matters: Attachment, the real relationship and change in psychotherapy’, American Journal of Psychotherapy, vol.64, 2. 5. Evans D 1993, Spirituality and Human Nature, Suny Press, Albany. 6. Ferrer, JN 2002, Revisioning Transpersonal Theory: A Participatory Vision of Human Spirituality, Suny Press, New York. 7. Gendlin, E 1996, Focusingoriented Psychotherapy: A Manual of the Experiential Method, Guildford Press, New York. 8. Greenberg, LS 2002, Emotion Focused Therapy: Coaching Clients to Work Through Their Feelings, Washington, APA. 9. Greenberg, L 2006, ‘Emotion focused therapy: A synopsis’, Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, vol. 36: 87-93. 10. Greenberg, L, Watson, J & Lietaer, G (Eds) 1998, Handbook of Experiential Psychotherapy, Guildford Press, New York. 11. Hanegraff, WJ 1998, New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought, Suny Press, New York. 12. Heron, J 1998, Sacred Science: Person Centred Inquiry into the Spiritual and the Subtle, PCCS Books, Ross-on-Wye. 13. Heron, J 2006, Participatory Spirituality: A Farewell to Authoritarian Religion, Lulu Press, USA. 14. Hinterkopf, E 2008 Integrating Spirituality in Counselling: A Manual for Using the Experiential Focusing Method, PCCS Books, UK. 15. Huxley, A 1945, The Perennial Philosophy, Harper & Row, New York. 16. Jaenke, K 2003, ‘The participatory turn: a review of Jorge. N. Ferrer, Revisioning Transpersonal Theory: A Paricipatory Vision of Human Spirituality’ in ReVision vol. 26, no. 4. 17. Kornfield, J 1993, A Path with Heart, Bantam Books, New York. 18. Lahood, G 2010, ‘Paradise unbound: relational spirituality and other heresies in new age transpersonalism’, International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 38(4). 19. Lahood, G 2008, ‘Paradise bound: a perennial philosophy or an unseen process of cosmological hybridisation’ in The Anthropology of Consciousness Journal, vol.19(2), pp.1- 57. 20. Law, J (Ed.) Religious Reflections on the Human Body, Indian University Press, Indiana. 21. Mackewn, J 1997, Developing gestalt counselling, Sage, London. 22. Pargament, KI 2007, Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy: Understanding and Addressing the Sacred, The Guildford Press, New York. 23. Safran, J & Muran, C 2000, Negotiating the Therapeutic Alliance: A Relational Treatment Guide: Jeremy D Safran, Ph.D., Guilford, New York. 24. Samuels, P 1993, The Political Psyche, Routledge, London. 25. Shafranske, EP & Sperry, L 2005, ‘Addressing the spiritual dimension in psychotherapy: introduction and overview’ in Sperry, L & Shafranske, E P (Eds.) Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy, American Psychological Association, Washington. 26. Siegel, D 2007, ‘Foreword’ in Trauma and the Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy, W.W. Norton & Company, New York. 27. Sperry, L 2001, Spirituality in Clinical Practice: Incorporating the Spiritual Dimension in Psychotherapy and Counselling, Routledge, New York. 28. Sperry, L & Shafranske, E 2005, Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy, American Psychological Association, Washington. 29. Yalom, ID 2002, The gift of therapy, Harper Collins, New York. 30. Walsh, R & Vaughan, F 1993, ‘On transpersonal definitions’in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, vol. 25, no. 2. 31. Wellwood, J 2000, Toward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation, Shambhala, Boston. 32. Wilber, K 1999, ‘Integral Psychology’ in The Collected Works of Ken Wilber, Volume Four, Shambhala Publications, USA. 33. Wilber, K, Engler, J & Brown, D 1986, Transformations of Consciousness. Shambhala, Boston.
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a psychospiritual perspective Jodie Gale
The word ‘holistic’ is used often within the helping professions, yet on deeper exploration,‘spirituality’ is often neglected. It is not seen as legitimate and is rarely given space in psychology, social work, counselling and psychotherapy training (Gale 2007). Considering the levels of addiction to the internet, food, drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex and shopping – and the widening gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health and wellbeing – neglecting a spiritual context continues to have dire consequences for individuals, communities and ‘the whole’. ‘Outcomes based’ medical models supported by many governments are primarily concerned with ‘getting rid’ of problems rather than caring for the whole person (WHNSW 2002). Yalom sees that our field is in crisis due to economically driven, perforce symptom orientated, brief, superficial and insubstantial therapies (2002 p.xiv). In Healing the Split, John Nelson (1994) suggests that no area of western thought is more in need of the input from spiritual disciplines than our understanding of [neuroses] and psychoses. Wilber (1994) writes: ‘First spirit, then soul then mind were rejected by modern psychology and psychiatry, with the disastrous result that men and women were nothing more than sophisticated bundles of material atoms in vaguely animate bodies. Thus our modern ‘science of the soul’, almost from the start has been a science merely of the
physical and bodily components of the entire human being – a reductionistic cultural catastrophe of the first magnitude…transpersonal psychology has reintroduced the dimensions of soul and spirit’ (p.ix).
What is Spirituality? Spirituality in this sense is not synonymous with religion, although it could be for some. In psychosynthesis – the model I use for holding a spiritual context – the spiritual Self (capital S), is considered the source of our being, a spark of the Divine – the innate drive that continuously calls us towards growth and wholeness. The Self is made up of will and consciousness – it is our life force. When connected to our deeper essence, it provides a way of understanding and finding value, meaning and purpose out of our suffering.
Assagioli and Psychosynthesis Roberto Assagioli (1888-1974), was a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, colleague to both Freud and Jung. Although useful to discovering the human psyche, he felt that psychoanalysis alone was limiting to clients in that they were often pathologised and reduced to their symptoms and history. He was interested in the soul, the esoteric, yoga, and religious teach-
ings such as Jewish Mysticism, Buddhism and Christianity; these deeply influenced his map of the human psyche (Young-Brown 2004). Assagioli’s work has been widely influential in the fields of humanistic, transpersonal and mindfulness based psychologies. Psychosynthesis integrates the best of western psychology, eastern and western spiritual disciplines. The psychosynthetic model of consciousness is in a constant process of evolution and growth as rigorously trained practitioners worldwide integrate new philosophies and ideas – such as neuroscience – into their theory and practice. Assagioli’s model is still at the cutting edge of psychology today due to its inclusive nature and because it takes into consideration the whole of the psyche. The ‘Egg Diagram’ (IOP 2006) represents this:
‘In every human being there is a special heaven whole and unbroken’
Another analogy we use in psychosynthesis is that of a house. In the basement, we work with the lower unconscious energies, using theories and techniques of psychoanalysis and object relations. On the ground floor, the middle unconscious, the work is predominantly in the ‘here and now’ incorporating humanistic and existential theories and techniques. In the loft, the ‘Superconscious’ or higher unconscious, we work with the spiritual and transpersonal theories and techniques of Assagioli, Jung, Grof and Wilber. Throughout a session, we dip in and out of the different levels of the psyche exploring our clients history (past), the here and now (present) and the immense potential for healing (future). In psychosynthesis, ‘Self’ is an ontological reality. The first expression of Self in matter is through the ego. Once healthy ego development is achieved, Self becomes more ‘itself’ through the gradual awakening of the ‘I’. Sorrell (2009) writes, ‘the “I” refers to the “observing self”, the part of us that appears to watch the world, others and ourselves with interest rather than with judgement’ (p.11). The ‘I’ is made up of consciousness and will. It is transcendent yet immanent (Firman and Gila 1997). Things get sticky when the ‘I’ becomes identified with the parts and functions of the ego/personality. The aim of psychosynthesis is to free the will from identifications within the personality and for the ‘I’ to be in direct relationship and identification with Self.
Bifocal Vision Clients suffering with addiction are more than their pathology; they are a Self on a bio-psycho-socio-culturalsexual-spiritual journey. The therapist holds the context that at the core, we are ‘whole and unbroken’, not diseased, sick or in need of a cure. We perceive ‘the client as a Self, a being with a purpose in life and with immense potential for love, intelligence and creativity…also as a personality, an individual made up of a unique blend of physical, emotional and mental characteristics (Whitmore 2000, p.70).
Addiction: a symptom of psychospiritual crisis Christina Grof (1993) proposes that addiction is a spiritual crisis. Stanislav Grof, a pioneer of transpersonal psychology together with Christina, claims that there are three major categories of spiritual crisis: 1) Biographical, due to trauma and abuse in our history. 2) Perinatal, which occurs around the time of birth and incarnation – these have to do with being and nonbeing energies. 3) Transpersonal, which have to do with the transcendence of the ordinary boundaries of the personality – often to do with the occult, mystical, religious and paranormal experiences (1989, pp.8-9). Akin with Jungian theory, the psychosynthetic paradigm ‘views human development as following a spiral course of departure from and higher
return to the origins of being’ (Benson 2003, p.124). Grof (1993) suggests that we begin to disengage from the sea of spirit at conception, leading to estrangement from our Divine roots as our essence becomes contained into matter. She warns us that when wounding occurs in childhood, for example when the authentic self isn’t mirrored or when it experiences annihilation, it reinforces the earlier experiences of separation from the whole and our sense of isolation deepens and becomes cemented into place. Addiction, from this perspective, is a way of managing these biographical, existential and spiritual crises (Gale 2008). Furthermore, Grof and Grof (1990) suggest that ‘all addicts experience an internal loss, a spiritual bankruptcy or soul sickness that cuts them off from the world around them. They enter the soul’s dark night and wrestle with the demons of fear, loneliness, insanity and death that are so common in spiritual crisis’. Thus begins a search, a longing, a thirst and a hunger for spiritual (re)connection and identity. The problem is that the client searches for spirit in all the wrong places. ‘Using’ is not just to numb pain experienced through biographical wounding. Clients also use their drug of choice to search for ‘something’ spiritual: connection through texting, validation and acceptance through Facebook status updates and ‘Friends’, love and soothing in food, and perhaps joy, goodness or confidence when using drugs or alcohol.
Clients suffering with addiction are more than their pathology; they are a Self on a bio psycho-socio-culturalsexual-spiritual journey. Clients come to the therapist’s door often drowning in a sea of despair, rage and shame. They either ‘act out’ through their addiction or ‘act in’, turning the feelings inwards (Grof 1993, p.79), creating further crisis and providing more fuel for the addiction. They come wanting a ‘fix’ for the problem but at the core they believe ‘I am the problem’. If we only see the addiction as something to get rid of, to fix or to cure, we are reducing clients to their symptoms. Susie Orbach writes that, ‘we don’t produce symptoms unless we have no other route to express distress…if we remove it without exploration, we usually produce a symptom switch’(1988 p.146). Therefore we need to search for the value, meaning and purpose hidden within the addiction. In psychosynthesis we ask, ‘how is this addiction serving the client?’ and ‘what is the Self calling for this person to awaken to through their addiction?’ Asking these questions will lead us to the Soul’s suffering, to that which is missing in our clients’ lives. We need to be able to sit with deep suffering; this facilitates clients being able to bear their own suffering. When they can do this, they don’t need to bolt from their feelings, they can stay present to the ‘here and now’ (Roth 2010).
Maintaining cycles Clients suffering with addiction are ‘caught in a compulsive pattern that seeks to establish self worth in the face of worthlessness. It is a vicious cycle in which they seek the higher unconscious, fall into the lower unconscious and seek the higher unconscious again.
A Buddhist might call this a cycle of aversion and craving. This is a common experience in addiction, a moving from the euphoria of the addiction into remorse and worthlessness, only to begin the cycle again. The tragedy, of course, is that the positive qualities ultimately remain out of reach and unintegrated’ (Firman & Gila 2002, p.161-162). The addiction is fuelled by destructive ‘maintaining cycles’ made up of defences such as rationalisations, justifications and denial – all cleverly set up to keep clients away from their suffering. The work here is about recovering the split-off and deeply buried parts of the client, while at the same time respecting their behaviours, defences and mindsets because these have helped them to survive.
In psychosynthesis, we see that counselling and psychotherapy is a sacred space for the (re)discovery of the Self. It is a place for clients to (re)connect with the heights and depths of their being. So psychosynthetic counsellors would work here to free the will from the maintaining cycle of addiction. By that, I don’t mean ‘Victorian’ will – in psychosynthesis we see that people have strong will, skilful will and goodwill – and that each of these needs activating (Assagioli 1974). We work to free the ‘I’ from identifications with the false self and the ‘parts’, for example: subpersonalities like the ‘victim’, ‘perfectionist’, ‘saboteur’ and ‘inner critic’, as well as disidentification from feelings, mindsets and historical wounding. This is about a move from
‘no will’ to ‘I have will and choice’. This is often a time of much suffering, as clients disidentify from old identifications and make way for new modes of being. Freedom from the constraints of the personality pave the way for the ‘I’ to be in relationship with transpersonal qualities and the Self. Clients begin to see that they are indeed whole and unbroken, not a part-object or diseased. This stage on the journey is about acceptance of self and surrender to the spiritual Self. The following psychosynthesis meditation is used to disidentify from the parts and to identify with the whole: ‘I have a body and I am more than my body I have feelings and I am more than my feelings I have a mind and thoughts and I am more than my mind and thoughts I am I, a centre of pure self-consciousness and will’ (Assagioli 1965).
Call off the search ‘Suddenly’, God said, ‘I have the answer! I know the one place humans will never look for the key to heaven. That place is within themselves, right in the core of their being. They’ll travel millions of miles into space but they will never take two steps within themselves to find the key to heaven’. The gods all applauded God’s brilliant plan and God has delighted in watching our search for the way home ever since! (Muktananda 1979, cited in Grof 1993, p.34) The search for spirit (whatever ‘spirit’ may be for each of us) begins as a healthy impulse. If we don’t feel connected to our spiritual source, we either numb the pain or search for connection. We search for soothing, for love, for the Divine, not realising that we are Divine. We often see ourselves as part-objects and deprive ourselves of goodness – this is especially true for our clients who suffer with addiction. Even when we awaken to our spiritual journey, we talk about God,
Spirit, Allah, Buddha, Higher Power or qualities of the transpersonal like worth, beauty and love as though they are something to reach for, ‘up there somewhere’, something only ‘fixed’ or enlightened beings are entitled to. The realisation that ‘I am already the Self that I am seeking to become’ is the ultimate purpose of psychosynthesis.
Staying connected In the first session, I always ask my clients, ‘What sustains you in life - what makes your heart sing?’ Connecting with physical, emotional, mental, sexual and spiritual hungers and passions provide hope and a context for the work. For some, connecting to spirit might be through mindfulness, meditation or prayer, twelve-step community or a group to do with one’s passions. For others, it could be story-telling, gardening, standing on top of a mountain, connecting to the land or listening to soul music. For clients caught in the ravages of addiction, it is about finding new, healthy and meaningful ways to satisfy and nourish the cravings of the soul and the spirit. Staying connected means constantly asking, ‘Am I responding to the invitations sent from the Self?’ We may as well – as it brings great detriment to repress the sublime – the spiritual Self will nag and pull at us until we acknowledge its presence and allow it to be expressed for the common good of the whole (Sewell 2005).
The gift of therapy In psychosynthesis, we see that counselling and psychotherapy form a sacred space for the (re)discovery of the Self. It is a place for clients to (re) connect with the heights and depths of their being. A place where they can slow down and be. The psychosynthesis therapist seeks to provide an environment filled with love, empathy and compassion, where over time, the client can blossom and become whoever it is that they were meant to be!
Jodie Gale (MA Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy, Dip Psych Therapeutic Counselling, CMCAPA, PACFA Reg) has over fifteen years of experience in psychosynthesis psychospiritual theory and practice. Jodie’s journey into personal therapy and then training to become a therapist came about after having a ‘peak spiritual experience’ swimming with wild dolphins in Ireland. She works in private practice on the Northern Beaches in Sydney and runs training in psychospiritual psychology for groups and organisations who wish to incorporate a spiritual dimension into their current psychological discipline or into their personal lives. www.psychosynthesis.net.au www.fbook.me/psychosynthesis References 1. Assagioli, R 1965, Psychosynthesis, Thorsons, London. 2. Assagioli, R 1974, The Act of Will, Platts, England. 3. Benson, J 2003 ‘Transpersonal and Psycho-spiritual Psychology’, in Simanowitz & Pearce, P (Eds.) Personality Development, Open University Press, Maidenhead, Berkshire. 4. Firman, J & Gila, A 1997, The Primal Wound, State University of New York Press, New York. 5. Firman, J & Gila, A 2002 A psychology of the Spirit, State University of New York Press, New York.
6. Gale, F 2007, ‘Introduction: Spiritually sensitive helping practices’, in Gale, F, Bolzan, N & McRaeMcMahon, D (Eds.) Spirited Practices: Spirituality and the Helping Professions, Allen and Unwin, Sydney. 7. Gale, J 2008, Call off the Search: Eating Disorders, a Symptom of Psychospiritual Crisis, Middlesex University, London. 8. Grof, C 1993, The Thirst for Wholeness: Attachment, Addiction and the Spiritual Path, Harper Collins Publishers, New York. 9. Grof, S & Grof, C 1989, ‘Spiritual emergency: Understanding evolutionary crisis’, in Grof, S & Grof, C (Eds.) Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis, Penguin Putnam, New York. 10. Grof, S & Grof, C 1990, The Stormy Search for the Self, Penguin, New York. 11. IOP (Institute of Psychosynthesis) 2006, ‘The Egg Diagram’, Anamcara Press, London. Muktananda, S 1979, Kundalini: The Secret Life, SYDA Foundation, New York. 12. Nelson, J 1994, Healing the Split: Integrating Spirit into our Understanding of the Mentally Ill, State University of New York Press, New York. 13. Orbach, S 1988, Fat is a FeministIissue, London, Penguin. 14. Roth, G 2010, Women, Food and God, Scribner, New York. 15. Sewell, M, 2005, Repression of the Sublime, UU World, Boston. 16. Sorrell, S 2009, Depression as a Spiritual Journey, O Books, Ropley. 17. Whitmore, D 2000, Psychosynthesis Counselling in Action, Sage, London. 18. WHNSW 2002, The Nature of Women’s Health: Past, Present and Future, Women’s Health NSW, Leichhart. 19. Wilber, K 1994, ‘Foreward’ in Nelson, J (Ed.) Healing the Split: Integrating Spirit into our Understanding of the Mentally Ill. Revised ed. State University of New York Press, Albany. 20. Yalom, ID 2002, The Gift of Therapy, Piatkus Books, London. 21. YoungBrown, M 2004, Unfolding Self: the Practice of Psychosynthesis, Allworth Press, New York.
spirituality and therapy: a personal view from buddhism and systems intelligence Stephen Malloch
To define what ‘spirituality’ is for me, is difficult. In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore writes: ‘“Soul” is not a thing, but a quality or a dimension of experiencing life and ourselves’ (Moore 1992, p.5). Spirituality for me is an experience, rather than a set of beliefs. It has a quality that is somewhat different from the everyday doing and thinking; it has more width, breadth and depth. Simultaneously, it takes me both into myself and out into connection with the cosmos. It is full of heart. It is about trusting, relaxing and appreciating. I saw it clearly at a Benedictine monastery while watching monks celebrate the Eucharist. I said to myself, ‘So that’s what it’s about…’ I can’t readily articulate what it is I saw, but it was full, very alive and beautiful. This way of experiencing is expressed in the Buddhist practice of mindfulness (smriti). The Chinese character for mindfulness consists of two parts: the upper part means ‘now’ and the lower ‘heart’ or ‘mind’ (Nhat Hanh 1998, p.59). To be mindful means to quieten into the fullness of our ‘heartmind nowness’ – its rightness and completeness. It is about letting go of trying to understand with the intellect, and letting come a deeper appreciative knowing. As the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa writes, ‘You see the brilliance of the universe. You can appreciate green, nicely shaped blades of grass, and you can appreciate a striped grasshopper with a tinge of copper colour and black antennae’ (Trungpa 1988, p.119). The central Buddhist practices of impermanence (anitya) and non-
self (anatman) also feed this relaxed appreciation. To practise impermanence is to let go of the need to hang on to how we think things are, or should be; every thing is in continual change, so attend to the unfolding nowness and hold lightly to your constructions of reality. To practice non-self is to let go of the thought of being separate, self-sufficient and in control; so practice relaxing into trust, into your environment, and allow what is at hand to be sufficient to afford engagement and the emergence of action.
Eastern contemplative psychology emphasises spiritual realisation; western therapeutic psychology emphasises individuation These experiences are also suggested in the western disciplines of systems thinking (Senge 1990; also see Scharmer 2007), and systems intelligence (Hämäläinen & Saarinen 2010). A person acting with systems intelligence is described as ‘perceiving herself as part of the whole, the influence of the whole upon herself, as well as her own influence upon the whole. By observing her own interdependence in the feedback intensive environment, she is able to act intelligently’ (ibid., p.9). Earlier, I said that spirituality for me was an experience, not a set of beliefs. Yet sometimes it is useful to have a model of an experience to help us talk about it. It is the ideas of systems intelligence that I currently find the
closest to a western spiritual model. We are all part of a system, which we could call the cosmos. This system consists of an ever varying feedback environment (an expression of the experience of impermanence). We influence the system, and the system influences us. As with all systemic thinking, where we place the boundaries of the system is dependent on our need to chunk the system into manageable pieces – the boundaries exist only in our thinking. So to nominate where ‘I’ ends in this system is a convenience of thought (an expression of the experience of non-self). Thus, spirituality is to listen deeply to this profound systemic interdependence, and express this interdependence as Buddhism’s Four Immeasurable Minds – love (metta), compassion (karuna), joy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha); these are expressions of our felt sense of mutual relatedness to each other and to all things. The difference between spiritualty and therapy can be thought of as a difference between western and eastern psychologies. Eastern contemplative psychology emphasises spiritual realisation; western therapeutic psychology emphasises individuation (Welwood 2002). Both are expressions of who we are, each emphasising a complementary dynamic. Movement towards spiritual realisation without individual psychological understanding can lead to what Welwood terms spiritual bypassing – using ‘spiritual ideas and practices to avoid dealing with emotional unfinished business’ (ibid., p.5). Its opposite is seeing oneself solely as ‘skin-encapsulated ego’ (Watts, 2006,
p.77) – being preoccupied with personal psychological processes and ignoring spiritual experience. The former is looking predominantly ‘outward’ to the system; the latter is looking predominantly ‘inward’ to the system. Both overlook the wholeness of the system. The spiritual teacher and former Harvard psychologist Ram Dass writes, ‘The point isn’t to deny our Egos, but to extricate ourselves from our exclusive preoccupation with them’ (Ram Dass 2002, p.150). The spiritual work of extricating ourselves from identification with our personal processes becomes much lighter if those processes are healthy and stable. This is the work of therapy. The therapeutic work of creating a healthy, stable personal psychology is much lighter if we know we are not only that. This is the work of spiritual practice. To be solely concerned with facilitating a client’s healthy personal psychology, however compelling that work might be, is only half the story. My role as counsellor includes recognising the client’s spiritual dynamic. This aspect is love, compassion, joy and equanimity. It is mindfulness, non-self and impermanence. It is systems intelligence. Because I can only meet my client in these places to the extent I know these
To be solely concerned with facilitating a client’s healthy personal psychology, however compelling that work might be, is only half the story. My role as counsellor includes recognising the client’s spiritual dynamic. places in my self, I need to do my own work. And as I recognise these places in my client, so my client recognises them in me. It’s a two-way street. This challenges me to be all of who I am and to lean in to all I can be. It’s a fascinating ride. Stephen Malloch
Stephen is a workshop facilitator, counsellor, career coach, academic and meditation teacher. Beginning in musicology and academic psychology, he founded the model of interaction known as communicative musicality which describes the non-verbal ‘narratives’ of communication. He is the principal editor of the book ‘Communicative Musicality’ (OUP, 2009). Stephen has also studied Zen Buddhism and yoga. His website is www.heartmind.com.au
References Hämäläinen, P & Saarinen, E (eds) 2010, Essays on Systems Intelligence, Systems Analysis Laboratory, Aalto, Finland. (Available as free download from www. systemsintelligence.tkk.fi) Moore, T 1992, Care of the Soul: How to add depth and meaning to your everyday life, Piatkus, London. Nhat Hanh, Thich 1998, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming suffering into peace, joy & liberation, Parallax Press, Berkeley, CA. Ram Dass, 2002, One Liners: A mini manual for a spiritual life, Bell Tower, New York. Scharmer, O 2007, Theory U: Leading from the future as it emerges, Society for Organisational Learning, Cambridge, MA. Senge, P 1990, The Fifth Discipline: The art and practice of the learning organisation, Doubleday/ Century Business, London. Trungpa, Chögyam 1988, Shambhala: The sacred path of the warrior, Shambhala, Boston & London. Watts, A 2006, Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life. Collected Talks 1960-1969, New World Library, Novato, CA. Welwood, J 2002, Toward a Psychology of Awakening, Shambhala, Boston & London.
exiting ‘the children of god’
Who are the Children of God? The Children of God, now known as The Family of Love, was founded in California in 1968. Many Jesus People joined its ranks and its ministry was mainly to the young and hippie types. It was founded by David Berg (Moses David) an ex-pastor of the ‘Christian Missionary Alliance’ who claimed to be the end-time prophet ‘David’ spoken of in the Bible, in the book of Ezekiel 34:23. The group became quite fanatical and had lots of media coverage as ‘the sex cult’. More recently, the raids on the Family homes by DOCS, with allegations of child abuse, made the headlines.
My experiences Perhaps the best way to begin is to introduce myself and relate some of the issues that became evident after me and my family left the Children of God group. As I have come to learn, I was not alone and most of the issues that I have had to deal with are common to the majority of ex-cult members. The Children of God (COG) group was my life, my future, my job, my family, my belief and value system. It was all-encompassing. I never anticipated a re-entry into society so I never prepared for it. Leaving the group meant leaving my world of eleven years. I had no other friends, very little money, few real prospects for work. I didn’t know what I believed and I was fearful that my eternal salvation was in jeopardy. I had a pregnant wife and five children. Coupled with this was a fear of authority figures and a belief that psychology was from the pit of hell, a pseudo-religion without God. I was also well aware that my group was thought of as an evil cult in the broader society, so the decision as to whether or not to disclose any of my past was a major one.
I have been a volunteer member of CIFS (Cult Information Family Support) for a number of years now, providing support, counselling, and education for ex-members and families of members of totalistic belief systems, and I have found the issues faced are often similar to my own. The consequences of totalism are far-reaching. Families of current members live with the pain of loss daily, without the closure that a death might bring. The members, if and when they leave, are damaged, grieving lost opportunities with their education, careers and relationships. Many are ashamed of their past and reluctant to seek help from counsellors or medical aid due to phobias implanted by the group regarding authority figures.
The consequences of totalism are far-reaching. Families of current members live with the pain of loss daily, without the closure that a death might bring. As I became more aware of how wrong the group was and how I had been duped into believing such nonsense, I became deeply ashamed of my past and felt that I must have been really stupid to have fallen for and invested/wasted eleven otherwise productive years of my life from the age of twenty-two to thirty-three. The path to recovery was slow. I turned to alcohol and drank myself into a stupor most evenings. My wife picked up the slack with the kids and our relationship ran into some major difficulties, with fights over my drinking and heavy-handed discipline of the
children (which carried-on from the group where physical discipline was encouraged) and my self-esteem, already weakened in the group, was in tatters. I felt like a failure to myself and my family. My wife was beginning to go through changes as well. She had begun to realise that she didn’t have to live under the rule of a dominant male as she had in the group. She decided to begin using birth control, and wanted to study and join the workforce, amongst other things that I considered to be against the will of God. Adjusting to these changes was extremely difficult since I believed that this was rebellion against God’s way. Other issues that were difficult to shake were my ingrained black-andwhite thinking methods. I still believed that if the COG was wrong then something else must be right. I launched myself into many other fundamentalist bible-based belief systems, frantically trying to find a substantial truth. This was a frustrating exercise, as you can imagine. It took years for me to become comfortable with ‘grey’ thinking and to break through into being content to be ‘normal’. ‘Either/or’ thinking plagued me, along with the notion that I should be somewhere else, and doing things for others, for a greater cause. This meant that I couldn’t find peace in the ordinary things in life. There was a whole world of pain out there that God expected me to do something about! There is still a world of pain out there, and guess what? I’m not the solution! So I’m going for a surf, and then I think I’ll read a book. Turn to page 29 to read how therapists might work with people who, like Able, have left controlling groups and/or cults – Ed.
the art of faith –
a journey of soul Dawne Domah PhD
Art can be an agent for transformation. When I add that viewing or creating art can be an elevating spiritual pursuit and that the wounded self can be restored by art, it sounds like I am preaching to the converted. However, I am not an art therapist. Instead, I have come to these conclusions through my experiences as an artist and art educator. Art became my mainstay when my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. During the initial stages of her journey my sister projected rage onto me. As an antidote to pacify painful rejection, I resorted to painting. Creating art continued to be my refuge to conciliate the difficulties and fears that I encountered during this twofold journey. ‘Faith’ is the name my sister chose for me to write about her. Art became my therapy. So, too, my art evolved to become prayers for Faith.
The Art of Faith Through my sister’s various treatments until her death, and later, in mourning, I continued to create art as prayers to strengthen her journey and to honour her courage. This resulted in a large body of artwork that eventually became The Art of Faith. Later The Art of Faith became the case study for my doctoral thesis, called The Power of Art and its Transformative Properties, a shamanic model. I found that there were correlations between art, the spiritual, Jungian depth psychology and shamanism. Each of these are substantial subjects that I can only briefly touch on here. Creating art with the intention to pray for my sister absorbed my whole attention, often for months at a time. At times I lost track of time and space. This sense of being ‘lost to the world’ represents a change of consciousness
Concern with the health of the soul is also a shamanic trait. ‘Shamanic cultures throughout the world describe illness as a “loss of soul”. The shaman’s task is to go on a journey in the search of the abducted or lost soul and return it to the sick person’ (McNiff 1992, p.21). My sister’s illness seemed to me to be consistent with a ‘loss of soul’. Her lifestyle did not support identification with soul, for she drank to overcome stress, she was angry at being rejected for promotion and her materialistic outlook ’Rite’ by Dr Dawne Domah prohibited inner reflection. According to James Hillman, a loss of inner meaning causes or a form of trance, which I liken to great soul suffering (Hillman 1975, p.18). aspects of shamanic trance. The power Some psychopathologies are caused by of art resides in the rich visual language such loss and images and fantasies can of symbols. As I painted prayers for alleviate the condition. In hindsight, I my sister images welled up from the realised that my ardent painting was a imaginal realm. These symbols often kind of attempt to retrieve Faith’s soul. possessed profound meaning because they resonated with numinous intensity. Wounding Jung personally created art and Traditional shamanic initiations he believed that the images were often contain the schema of ‘suffering, ‘cryptograms concerning the state of the death, resurrection’ (Eliade 1951, p.34). self’ (Jaffé ed. 1979, p.98). My images An initiate’s wounding signals the arose without premeditation. To my beginning of the soul’s plunge into the surprise, at times the symbols predicted situations that Faith would experience at depths of the unknown. a later time. Likewise, Jung believed that ‘Wounding often involves a painful images produced by the psyche point excursion into pathos; we experience beyond themselves, reflecting something massive anguish, and the suffering yet unknown (Jung, CW 13, Para 50). cracks the boundaries of what we thought we could stand’ (Houston 1996, Soul p.267). Amid chaotic suffering, initiation Just as we have ‘soul music’, we wounding disintegrates the neophyte’s can also have ‘art of soul’. Art is a previous manner of being. After a period two-way channel through which the of distress and anguish, the initiate artist’s consciousness streams as soul gains essential knowledge. Finally communion. In the reverse direction it a new, more whole individual arises acts as an aperture through which the from the ashes, often with enhanced artist and viewer can access the soul’s perception or healing powers. Such expression.
FIRST PERSON rites of passage also occur in the process of individuation, Jung’s term for ‘the conscious coming to terms with one’s own inner center (psychic nucleus) or Self’ (von Franz in Jung 1964, p.166). A number of shamanic references were observable in The Art of Faith. In addition, Faith’s passage showed shamanic significances. Initially there were many signs of physical and psychological wounding. Physically she suffered many invasive treatments such as mastectomy, removal of her ovaries and chemotherapy. Psychologically at first Faith responded with denial and anger. Later she confronted her situation and this was followed by a period of introspection. Finally, my sister entered peace and died in a state of grace. These four steps correspond to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ stages of dying. Faith’s evolvement of consciousness can be interpreted as shamanic soul restoration, or Jungian individuation. It certainly was consistent with an archetypal spiritual journey.
Temple Oblation I will include a description of one of the artworks from The Art of Faith to give an example of the interplay between art, the spiritual, Jungian depth psychology and shamanism. This artwork was an installation called Temple Oblation and was exhibited at Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum (Figure I – all figures are available on http://thecapaquarterly. blogspot.com). The ‘temple’ was composed of ten four metre long fragile wax paper banners impregnated with dried plant biota. These were suspended and backlit to create a meditation ‘temple’. This installation was dedicated to my sister, and by inference, to the recovery of our ecologically ‘sick’ planet. The fragility of the vertical translucent banners was juxtaposed against the weight of massive horizontal beams laid at their base. These weathered beams were once part of the old Gladstone meat wharf, and thus conveyed history of place. Small fetishes were positioned on the beams as supplications and prayers (Figure II). Shamans often create artefacts as power objects to enhance communication with spirit helpers and to aid healing rites. The juxtaposition of the delicate ethereal, versus tough, substantial
28 materials symbolised the duality of spirit-matter, and life-death. Such bifurcation is considered ‘a wounding discrepancy between potentiality and actuality: between what we are and what we sense it is our destiny to become’ (Roszak 1976, p.251). Eliciting the shamanic model, Roszak speaks of the ‘wounding discrepancy’, and also the dangers of living ‘on reduced power’, which in shamanic terms is ‘soul-loss’. Jung considered loss of soul an important concept. ‘It is a real condition, found wherever the means of transcendence is abolished by progress. When transcendence is lost, we fall more readily into the forces that lead to degeneration’ (Tacey 2006, p.110). Inside the temple I performed Incantation, a ritual derived from a Celtic Bardic cycle. The ancient chant of Taliesin suggests shamanic shapeshifting: I have been in many shapes: I have been a narrow blade of a sword; … I have been enchanted for a year in the foam of water. There is nothing in which I have not been (Cowan 1993, p.29). Within the ‘sacred space’ of the installation, I chanted and repetitively circled to entreat the fates on my sister’s behalf. After each circuit of chanting, I ritually placed a flower on a ceremonial floor-scroll as a prayer. The flowers were left in situ for the remaining month of the exhibition (Figure III). I repeated various mantras that focused on Faith’s wellbeing as follows: Be not afraid little one, You are the waves that shine across the oceans, Strong and determined, You are the breezes that flow across the seas, Strong and healthy, You are the fish that swim beneath, Strong and sleek, You are all things … Strong and powerful, Be not afraid, Be not afraid. (etc.) (Example of author’s chant for Incantation 1996). Interestingly, many visitors to the gallery entered the ‘sacred temple’ space to sit on the floor in silent contemplation. This installation represented an art exhibition that encompassed a spiritual ambience. It was imbued with the numinous, it was
overlaid with shamanic symbolism and could be interpreted through Jungian psychology. Initiated by her difficult transition, in the end Faith confronted the obstacles limiting her transcendence and came to terms with her inner centre. For me it was a rare privilege to be summoned, although I too experienced a demanding passage: an initiation into dying. The art that I created recorded this journey between life and death and brought me many realisations. Whether we call it a ‘shamanic initiation’ or ‘individuation’, or The Art of Faith, my sister and I voyaged together on a journey that ended with the presence of spiritual grace. Dr Dawne Domah
Dr Dawne Domah is an artist-educator who taught Fine Art at Griffith University. Throughout her career she has held art-centered workshops and spiritual retreats where she implemented the power of art to aid experiences of a transformation of consciousness. During her doctoral studies, she researched creative experience associated with shamanic practices. In this cross-disciplinary study, Shamanism, Depth Psychology, Jungian and Archetypal Studies were researched to demonstrate that the arts can affect and alter imbalances in spiritual and cultural values. A forthcoming book is based on her findings. References 1. Cowan, T 1993, Fire in the Head, Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit, Harper, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers, San Francisco. 2. Eliade, M 1951, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, Bollingen Series LXXVI, Princeton University Press (1974), Princeton. 3. Hillman, J 1975, Re-Visioning Psychology, Harper & Row, New York. 4. Houston, J I996, A Mythic Life: Learning to Live Our Greater Story, HarperCollins, San Francisco. 5. Jaffé, A ed. 1964, ‘Symbolism and the Visual Arts’ in Man and His Symbols, Windfall Book, Double Day & Co, New York. 6. Jung CG 1953, ‘Alchemical Studies’, Collected Works of CG Jung, Volume 13, ed. Gerhard Adler, Translated by R. F. C. Hull, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, Princeton University Press, Princeton. 7. McNiff, S 1992, Art as Medicine, Creating Therapy of the Imagination, Shambhala, Boston and London. 8. Roszak, T 1976, Unfinished Animal, The Aquarian Frontier and the Evolution of Consciousness, Faber and Faber, London. 9. Tacey, D 2006 in Anne Casement and David Tacey eds. The Idea of the Numinous, Contemporary Jungian and psychoanalytic perspectives, Routledge, London and New York. 10. von Franz, ML, ed. 1964, ‘The Process of Individuation’, in Man and his Symbols, A Windfall Book, Doubleday & Co Aldus Books, New York.
working with people who have left
deceptive, controlling and manipulative groups Jill Henry
The lure of spiritual discovery can mask hidden dangers. Unsuspecting seekers may inadvertently be attracted to groups that fail to disclose what lies beneath their expressed philosophy or religion. People don’t join high demand and controlling groups or ‘cults’, as they have traditionally been known; rather, they are responding to what seems like an idealistic, improved or ethical way of being, and then find themselves, unwittingly, slowly adapting to deceitful and manipulative practices. A common misconception is that cults are ‘weird’, when in truth they try to appear as normal as possible on the surface (Langone 1995).
When these clients present for therapy they don’t necessarily explain that they have left a cult per se. There might be shame and embarrassment or they might not really understand what has happened to them. These clients are likely to react to counselling in ways that differ from many others. While the degree of trauma experienced in high demand groups varies from individual to individual (as with all presenting problems), it is important to be aware that such victims are likely to be more on guard and less trusting than most. This is not necessarily because of early paranoia but because, firstly, they have been deceived by the cult or group and are therefore profoundly suspicious, and secondly, many exmembers have been encouraged to see counselling, therapy, psychology and psychiatry as essentially hostile to their practices.
Differences and distinguishing features of clients embroiled in cults There are broadly two kinds of ex-members: those who have entered groups as young adults or at a more mature age, and those who have grown up in them. The latter will have been affected in different ways, with no pre-cult self to draw on, causing difficulties in finding an independent sense of self. This latter group often has problems entering and reintegrating into conventional life, not least of which is that they have often had to leave families behind and have therefore been cut off from all that was familiar. Those individuals who leave either because they were told to leave, were helped to exit by families or friends, or just walked away, tend to feel humiliated and reluctant to reveal what they have been through. Some find themselves joining another high demand group, thus facing the trauma all over again.
Damage as a result of deception It is vital that counsellors and psychotherapists remain aware of the increasing numbers of people who might find themselves embroiled in something they never envisaged while on an innocent search for spiritual or religious growth. It is important not to underestimate the degree of damage that can occur to people who have been in dominating, controlling and often deceptive relationships or groups. Too often it is assumed that ex-cultists have just left a religious belief system, when the reality is often far more damaging and far-reaching.
Need for a place of safety Empathy is vital as is the need to reassure clients that their experience is not their fault and that, in fact, they were duped into believing what they wanted to believe. Guilt about shunning friends and family can be profound. As seen in Able’s story (on page XX), confusion is marked and adaptation to life in the world outside after belonging to a particular church or group is difficult. Feeling safe in therapy is fundamental to start to heal.Disillusioned and deceived spiritual seekers present with a number of specific problems and as a result therapists need to provide education as well as therapy. Therapists need to
be aware of control techniques and practices, and to ensure that they are au fait with the methods being used in controlling groups and relationships. Questions about qualifications, beliefs, and modalities of work might be more searching than one would usually expect from a client and a healthy scepticism should be encouraged, not quashed.
It is vital that counsellors and psychotherapists remain aware of the increasing numbers of people who might find themselves embroiled in something they never envisaged while on an innocent search for spiritual or religious growth.
devotees having being taught that transcendence awaits them only if they accept the ‘truth’ as featured by that group or leader. These clients wanted certainty or another black and white conviction. Deliberate, step by step, working through grief and loss with a professional, ethical, counsellor is not always immediately appealing. This predicament may be common to other clients, but it is important to be aware that these characteristics are exaggerated in such confused, disappointed, disillusioned people. Life can seem to be dull after time in a cult.
Silence is unhelpful in working with ex-members; it can be terrifying to those who may be struggling to hold onto their sense of sanity (therapists working psychodynamically or psychoanalytically need to be particularly aware of this). Similarly, insisting on exploring family of origin issues when a person is presenting with symptoms caused by manipulative and controlling techniques will alienate the client. There may well be all sorts of early influences causing problems, but trying to explore them before the presenting issue has been addressed will fail the client’s needs. Furthermore, hypnosis is not recommended for ex-cultists; it has the potential to trigger a dissociative episode.
Further thoughts Elitist thinking about the group and its ideology frequently encourages devotees believe that they are special. They believe their unique mission is an obligation to save or change the world, they alone have the answers, and special powers and knowledge to do this. Thus a narcissism and grandiosity not previously evident can emerge as justification for supporting whatever cause is being espoused. This makes working at finding contentment in ordinary life extremely difficult, many
Jill Henry (BA (Hons), Dip Ed, Grad Dip Counselling) is a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Bondi Junction. She also works with Mandala Community Counselling Service, a service that provides ongoing psychodynamic psychotherapy to disadvantaged clients and those who cannot afford to pay in the private sector. Jill is also Vice-President of Cult Information and Family Support Inc (CIFS), a clinical member of CAPA and is PACFA registered.
References 1. Hassan, S 2000, Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, Aitan Publishing Company, Danbury, CT, United States of America. 2. Herman, J 1997, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, Basic Books, New York. 3. Lalich, J 2004, Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California. 4. Langone, M 1995, Recovery from Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse, W.W. Norton, New York.
Useful websites: Cult and Family Information Support www.cifs.org.au International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) www.icsahome.com/http://www. icsahome.com/infoserv_respond/info_ mental_health.asp http://cultrecover.com www.blgoldberg.com/GUIDELINES
CIFS 2011 National Conference details are listed on the back cover.
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT TIPS
giving and receiving Jacinta Frawley
Lily arrived after unusually missing an appointment due to a mix-up after holidays. She greeted me with a long stemmed red rose and ‘I am so sorry.’ We had a brief discussion somehow in the hallway about the mixed-up time and then as she was going to the bathroom, she said ‘I always brought flowers to my mother when I was late.’ Later, once the session had started, I asked if the flowers had helped with her mother. She answered, ‘Eventually the whole room was full of flowers but it still didn’t help’. As a general rule, therapists are discouraged from accepting gifts from clients. There is a strong theoretical rationale which goes something like this. The goal of therapy is to develop conscious understanding of habitual conscious and unconscious patterns. These patterns are so strong that the regressive pull is always toward enacting the entrenched patterns. Hence, it is the therapist’s role to stand strong and interpret or contain these patterns. Accepting gifts is often interpreted as colluding with the client’s wish to remain unconscious. Therapists are instead encouraged to weather the indignation and injury which will be expressed by the client when their gift is rejected and to examine the subtle layers of meaning inherent in the gift-giving. In practice, it is not that difficult to interpret the box of chocolates that appears at the beginning of a session when a client announces that he is breaking off therapy. He is not too subtly saying, ‘Don’t eat me, here, gobble up the chocolates instead!’ Nor is it difficult to understand that the client who presents a gift before the holiday-break is asking to be remembered in their absence. Perhaps too, the gift at the end of a therapy process is expressing gratitude and inviting the therapist to celebrate work well done. Each of these relatively transparent gestures requires and deserves a nuanced response. What ever more subtle layers, though, may be at work in the introductory vignette of Lily and her mother’s rose? Rather than the
When a therapist receives a gift from a client there are many possible questions… These musings are essential, regardless of whether the therapist decides to accept or reject the gift. giving and accepting of the rose being collusion against pain, Lily’s enactment of earlier failed gift-giving experiences brings the felt experience vividly into the room. Perhaps this was even the unconscious force at work in the mixedup appointment in the first place. A mix-up unconsciously created so that she would have the opportunity to re-enact, with her therapist, earlier interactions with her mother, and to see if it would be any different this time. And what of gifts given by therapists to clients? Theory and practice devotes a great deal of time and energy to the client’s actions and motivations, sometimes overlooking that therapists, being human, also like to give gifts. Generally, gifts given by therapists are not physical objects, yet how are we to interpret extra time given at the end of sessions, reduced fees, even advice-giving if not as gifts from therapist to client. When a therapist receives a gift from a client there are many possible questions. What hopes and fears does the client seek to convey? What layers of family meaning and history may be uncovered by enquiring about the giftgiving habits of the family? What past experience of giving and receiving is being re-enacted? What aspect of his or her self is the client attempting to bring into therapy in the form of a gift? These musings are essential, regardless of whether the therapist decides to accept or reject the gift.
As therapists, it is not difficult to turn these questions onto the client, yet perhaps, as we approach this Christmastide of giving, it is also worthwhile turning these questions onto ourselves. What aspects of ourselves are we seeking to bring into therapy when we give, whatever it is that we give?
Jacinta Frawley is a Jungian Analyst, trained in Zurich, Switzerland. She is in private practice in Gymea in southern Sydney. Your comments, queries and suggestions for discussion topics are welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT TIPS
blogging attract clients? Clare Mann
The word ‘blogging’ comes from the term ‘Web Log,’ and is likened to a logbook, which is housed online. Initially, when blogging entered our contemporary language, critics saw it as indulgent or ridiculous, believing it to be the outcome of the self-centred intentions of frustrated diary writers. However, over time we have come to realise that it is an important tool in connecting people who are seeking solutions to their pain with those offering such solutions. This is the case in all online business offerings and increasingly the exchange of the service we know as counselling. Today, psychologists and counsellors are slowly realising that their would-be clients seek much more information about them before choosing to book an appointment. Therefore, blogging is an important component of a client’s decision-making process regarding whether your particular therapy or philosophy will meet their needs. Successful therapy is based on the client trusting the therapist and traditionally that only occurred during therapy sessions. Today, the process must begin earlier. The client’s decision to choose a therapist is now also based on whether they trust the therapist’s philosophical outlook, as conveyed in other forums (such as the blogoshpere). Blogging is an opportunity for therapists to reach out to potential clients and share with them something of their philosophy and ways in which they can help people get unstuck. No longer is blogging seen as an indulgence, instead it can be a key contributor to the building of trust which a client must have in order to engage the therapist to help them on their journey. It is wise to remember that the would-be client’s hunger for information to assist their decisionmaking is becoming so great that if you do not have a presence online, would-be clients are likely to choose someone else who does provide content-rich and helpful information outside of the therapy room.
Writing a counselling blog The content of a valuable blog can take several forms: 1. Text: a short account offering rich information, techniques or commentary on something known e.g. from your own work, something mentioned in the media or a counselling interpretation of a current or long established problem. 2. Pictures: including flow diagrams or something of interest to illustrate a point or photos sharing an event e.g. a conference. 3. Video: either embedded from YouTube or one you have created yourself, which illustrates a point or teaches a method to overcome a difficulty. 4. Audio: such as an MP3 recording you can make yourself or from someone else e.g. an interview. 5. Links: to other resources or websites to obtain further information or clarification on a problem or point of view. 6. Downloads: which are attached as PDF files on, for example, ‘Three ways to relax effectively’. A PDF could include pictures, diagrams, a checklist and and/ or links to other resources. Choosing a medium for your blog involves ascertaining the benefit you would like your clients to derive from your contributions, together with finding the most inspiring way to convey it. Today’s technology offers us a revolutionary way to promote the craft of therapy. Today, therapy has the potential to begin well before we invite the client into the room. Blogging is an opportunity for would-be and existing clients to partake of your values, promulgated through your blogs. It is crucial, therefore, that your blog posts are congruent with your values, style of expression and professional image. They should be written from the perspective of you genuinely writing from your core values.
Today’s technology offers us a revolutionary way to promote the craft of therapy So share information which is valuable and given in the true spirit of helping readers increase their selfreflection and the ability to take responsibility for their own choices. Don’t fear that would-be clients might consider reading, watching or listening to helpful information on your website as a replacement for one-to-one therapy. Sitting in the crucible of therapy across from another existent (the therapist) who is, by their very intention, teaching the other (the client) to be present, can never be replaced by technology. Blogging that reflects your values, your philosophy and invites the reader to ‘go deeper’ can be a crucial tool to assisting clients as well as creating a successful and sustainable practice. There is a saying in therapy training that ‘Therapists get the clients they deserve’. Now therapists can facilitate this process and attract people whom they are best trained to serve. Clare Mann
Clare Mann is a psychologist, author and professional speaker who helps psychologists and counsellors run successful and sustainable private practices. Through her teaching, workshops and writing, she ensures therapists attract the clients they love to work with. For a free CD or MP3 on ‘7 Secrets of Attracting Therapy Clients’ call freephone 1800 637 599 or visit www. besttherapypractice.com +61 2 9006 3336. Read Clare Mann’s blog at: www.thesydneypsychologist.com/blogs
the window into the unconscious Gail Pemberton gave this professional development presentation to CAPA NSW members on 21 August 2010, following the Annual General Meeting (132 people attended). Review by Juliana Triml Gail Pemberton comes from a psychodynamic background with a Jungian orientation, and her interactive exercises during this PDE reflected this flavour. When describing her own initial exposure to sandplay, Gail said it helped her to see parts of herself she had never seen and subsequently she was truly ‘hooked’. To practice with sandplay, a therapist requires a rectangular box with its sides and base painted blue and filled with sand. Then comes a large collection of objects that represent all aspects of the client’s life, including categories such as plants, rocks, food, nourishment, animals, vehicles, barriers, people and spiritual or mythical objects including archetypes. A client selects objects that ‘talk’ to them, and places these objects in the sand. Both the objects and their place in the tray represent a mutual and interactive connection, and this symbolic connection tells a story. In this way, sandplay is great for child or adolescent clients, as the interaction (play) can take place without too many words. Gail noted, ‘The best thing for the therapist is that therapist needs not do much; the client picks his/ her objects, puts them in the tray and then interprets their meaning,’ as well as their interaction and feelings. Each object generally represents a symbol, an archetype in client’s life. The aim of sandplay is to know and understand the inner psychic world, which, for many of us, is unconscious and unknown. Through the selected objects or symbols, this inner psychic world can become open to be seen, whenever the psyche is ready.
Gail Pemberton joined the faculty at the Jansen Newman Institute in 2001. Her work includes lecturing, running psychotherapeutic training groups and group supervision. Additionally, Gail runs her busy private practice, and also works in the corporate arena supervising and educating executive coaches for the Stephenson Mansell Group.
Gail explained that Carl Jung said that psychic reality lies in the inner symbolic world as well as in the outer world. The imagery through selected objects is the primary language that allows the emergence of our shadows (using Jungian psychoanalytic aspects). To give the audience a very simple example of how sandplay works, we were invited to talk to our neighbour in the room about a symbol that means a lot to us, maybe a piece of jewellery or a talisman. Gail proceeded, saying that many symbols have universal meaning across cultures, such as two intertwined snakes representing a symbol for pharmaceutical products. Furthermore, archetypes (in the collective unconscious) are represented by a symbol chosen by the client, and their positional interaction tells a story. The client tells his or her own story
and the therapist would only point at any contradictive interpretations. For example, children generally do not have any deep symbolic insight into what is happening around and within them, but things do get processed through the unconscious even though they cannot directly explain it. To demonstrate this in more depth, Gail invited a volunteer* to choose several objects from the display, then to place them in the sand and to describe the connections between them and what emotional state this may reflect. The volunteer was able to describe very accurately what each object symbolised for her in terms of her life story and her emotional processing. Watching this experiential exercise was quite an emotional experience for all of us. Gail also described how sandplay can be used for couples work, and how couples can ‘observe’ each others’ emotional and interactive ‘game’ being played in the sand tray. As an observer of the other, each partner can see their own behaviours and the impact they have on their partner. The experiential mode of Gail’s presentation allowed all participants to observe the interaction between the volunteer, the therapist and themselves, and thus take away some new knowledge about themselves, too. *Please note: this exercise was done with the volunteer’s consent, and all names used in this process were pseudonyms. Juliana Triml
Juliana Triml is the CAPA NSW PD Coordinator. If you have any suggestions regarding future professional development events, please contact her at email@example.com
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT TIPS
capa nsw professional development events 2010/2011 CAPA NSW members must complete twenty hours of approved professional development each year. To help members meet this requirement, CAPA NSW is hosting the following events: Monday 22 November 2010 7.00 pm – 9.00 pm PD hours: 2 Chris McCabe ‘What is Essential and Useful in Sexual Trauma Counselling’ Chris McCabe is a Senior Statewide Education Officer with The Education Centre Against Violence, holds the Sexual Assault and Mental Health portfolio and conducts training in the mental health sector across the state. Chris has many years’ experience within mental health, community based counselling services and private practice in working with adolescent and adult survivors of sexual assault trauma.
March 2011 (date to be confirmed) 7.00 pm – 9.00 pm PD hours: 2 Wednesday 15 June 2011 7.00 pm – 9.00 pm PD hours: 2 November 2011 (date to be confirmed) 7.00 pm – 9.00 pm PD hours: 2 Bookings: (02) 9235 1500 or firstname.lastname@example.org Please book as soon as possible – spaces are limited due to Occupational Health and Safety requirements. Cost: Free for CAPA members. $30.00 for non-members. Venue: Crows Nest Centre, 2 Ernest Place, Crows Nest, Sydney.
If you have any suggestions for future PDEs, contact CAPA’s PD Coordinator, Juliana Triml, on email@example.com CAPA is also exploring more convenient options for members in rural and regional areas. Please email the Regional and Rural Sub-Committee with your suggestions firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nerida Oberg I began my work in private practice in 1992, first in Stanwell Park and then moved into the Sydney CBD where I also taught twelve of the modules on offer at the Australian College of Applied Psychology and facilitated Existential Group Psychotherapy for Jansen Newman Institute students for well over a decade. My specialisations in bereavement care and couples therapy took on an existential perspective as the years rolled on in parallel with my personal life experiences. It is well acknowledged that effective therapists tend to be those who are clear in themselves and who have learned to be comfortable in the uncomfortable, secure in the insecurity of life. Existential psychotherapy was at the heart of my own truth for I was able to witness the unravelling of the old and the emergence of new awareness for students and clients alike. I had gone through this process myself fifteen years earlier with Margaret Newman perched on my right shoulder, and still regard this ‘peeling process’ as necessary for deep personal awareness. In 2008, I began the process of escaping to the south coast of Sydney in search of the silence found within nature and set up a part time ‘country practice’. I bought a therapist’s ‘dream house’, a beautiful old weatherboard cottage with a delightful history,
originally a ‘birthing house’ in 1880. The cottage was earmarked for demolition and construction of the new order of things, so it was saved, restored and now operates as the Berry Healing Centre complete with Naturopathic care for holistic service and accommodation for clients, students and other practitioners seeking supervision, rest, rejuvenation and one on one professional development.
awareness. Before this experience I regarded myself as a spiritual person, never religious, but nevertheless open to the unknown. This very private and personal experience is soon to be released in a book at the end of this year for I feel it needs to be shared. The death of Eliza saw me close my CBD practice and move permanently to Berry to be at one with the all that surrounds us, and where private practice is now very much a soulful awareness where effortless ‘healing’occurs.
…effective therapists tend to be those who are clear in themselves and who have learned to be comfortable in the uncomfortable, secure in the insecurity of life. At the beginning of 2009, a major life-changing event occurred for me personally with the death and passing of my only daughter, aged twenty. The years of specialisation in grief and loss and bereavement care illuminated what I now refer to as ‘preparation’, seasoned and strengthened by the integration of acceptance that lies at the core of existentialism. My personal experience of loss, however, has not reflected any of the traditional theories of grief and mourning which I taught for so many years and I now truly see the limitations of psychotherapy and counselling when devoid of spiritual
The latest CAPA Quarterly with a call to discuss and include spirituality was timely, as was the request for my membership profile. I would hope that all therapists and counsellors working in the field of helping others are able to open their mind and heart to a different awareness than that found in learned knowledge and study. Nerida Oberg
B Couns Dip Psych/Couns. Dip Prof Couns PACFA www.berryhealingcentre.com.au
A free service for CAPA NSW members, contact email@example.com
ROOMS FOR RENT Brookvale New building behind Warringah Mall, suit counsellor, coach, psychologist. Room available most days, half day or full day. Client parking available. Call Peta on (02) 9938 5860 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Camden – ‘The Counselling Centre’ Beautifully renovated heritage cottage. Two consulting rooms, comfortable waiting room, kitchen and bathroom. Plenty of parking available. Rooms available for half and/or full day sessions 2-3 days per week including weekends. Contact Esther Pershouse on 0408 029 952 Crows Nest Modern, bright, fully furnished room and large, fully-equipped group room available in an established practice on the Pacific Highway. Metered/free parking nearby. Half, full and multiple day rates available. Contact Eve on 0412 011 950 Crows Nest Well presented consulting room in brand new clinic located in the heart of Crows Nest. Excellent parking and public transport. Sessional and permanent rates. Also available: group space for up to 14 people. Fair rates. Please contact Sabina on 0419 980 923 or Sabina@wellforlife.net.au Crows Nest/St Leonards Well lit, air-conditioned, professional rooms available. Situated in the EXCEN CENTER on the border between Crows Nest and St Leonards. Close to parking, this professional room comes with reception, mail services, bus and trains. Reasonable rates. Available for single day up to four-day hire. Contact Jim on (02) 9420 0788 or email email@example.com Dee Why Attractively furnished professional rooms right across the newly developed Dee Why Grand complex. Two rooms are available for one to three days per week, including weekends. Reasonable rates. Parking and buses nearby. Friendly and supportive environment. Contact Michele on (02) 9984 7055 or 0402 122 563 or email michele@ towardschange.com.au
SUPERVISION Glebe Warm and inviting, well-presented consulting rooms available for reasonable rates on a permanent, weekly or part-time basis. Large, pleasant waiting room, good facilities and great location on Glebe Point Road in the midst of Glebe village. Public transport at the door and ample off-street parking. Contact Lee on 0407 063 300 Lane Cove Rooms/room available to rent on a daily basis in a beautifully renovated health care clinic. Ideal for a Professional Health Care Provider. Flexible lease agreement. Unrestricted and ample parking. Please contact Peter on (02) 9427 1785 Lilyfield Bright, sunny, unfurnished room available at the Lilyfield Psychotherapy Centre, established practice. Very reasonable room rental. Convenient location close to public transport and cafes. Contact Jen Fox on (02) 9560 0719 or (02) 9799 3387 Mosman Beautiful practice room at the heart of Mosman, close to public transport and easy parking. Available on a daily basis Mondays and Wednesdays or on an hourly basis. Good rates. Please contact Eva on 0411 498 468 or firstname.lastname@example.org Parramatta Four airconditioned and well appointed counselling rooms and a group room are available at hourly casual rates (from $25) or on a permanent basis. Rooms are located in George St, Parramatta and room bookings can be made on our website www.lifexplored.com.au. Contact John Carroll on 0419703410 or email@example.com Sydney CBD Stylish consulting rooms in landmark Macquarie St building, in Sydney’s prestigious medical district. Polished wooden floors, air conditioning, waiting area, kitchen amenities and printer/copier/phone/fax. Bright, leafy outlook and nearby public transport. Opportunities for cross-referral and crosspromotion. Full day, half day and casual sessions. Photos available. Contact Susie on (02) 9221 1155 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Supervision – Penrith and Richmond Experienced supervisor and adult educator offers supervision for counsellors, group workers, community workers etc. Penrith and Richmond..PACFA Reg. Contact Jewel Jones on 0432 275 468 or email email@example.com Web: www.jewel-jones.com.au Supervision – Disability and Sexuality Individual and group supervision for counsellors, group leaders and those supporting people with a disability or Asperger’s syndrome. Twenty years’ experience working in disability field; seven years in relationships and sexuality counselling and education including working with victims and perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault. CMCAPA. Burwood and Newtown. Contact Liz Dore on 0416 122 634 or firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.relationshipsandprivatestuff.com Supervision – Newtown Available for those doing individual, couples and group work. Over twenty years of clinical experience. Accredited in Professional Supervision (Canberra Uni), Register ed member PACFA. Contact Vivian Baruch on (02) 9516 4399 or email via www.vivianbaruch.com Supervision – Brookvale and Glebe Experienced supervisor for counsellors and group leaders. Qualified trainer and supervisor, CMCAPA, Registered member PACFA. Call Jan Grant on (02) 99385860 or email email@example.com Supervision – Chatswood West Supervision for individual, couple and group work, including counselling, psychotherapy and coaching approaches. Flexibly designed to suit your needs. Over twenty years of clinical experience. Clinical Member CAPA/Reg. PACFA. Contact Gemma Summers on 0417 298 370 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: www.goodmind.com.au Supervision – Morisset/Dora Creek Significant experience supervising counsellors, therapists, social workers, psychologists, mental health workers, group work leaders and educators as individuals and in groups. CMCAPA, qualified Adult Educator, nine years’ experience in teaching supervision, developing supervision courses and delivering supervision. Contact Randi Leighton on 0417 655 400 or email email@example.com
Counsellors/Hypnotherapists Just graduated and looking to go into private practice? Supervision and business coaching available to help you on your way. Also rooms for rent on sessional/permanent basis. Email Lidy@northernbeachescounselling.com.au or phone (02) 9997 8518 or 0414 971 871 Supervision Experienced supervisor. Registered member PACFA. Accredited supervisor with Australian Association of Relationship Counsellors (AARC). Available for psychotherapists, counsellors and group leaders. Caringbah. Contact Jan Wernej on (02) 9525 4434 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Supervision for working with Adolescents and Parents – Coogee and telephone Individual and group supervision for counsellors, educators, allied health workers, group leaders and parents. Fifteen years in private practice as psychotherapist/counsellor; eighteen years working with pre-teen/teen girls and their parents, addressing developmental issues and popular culture/media’s impact on girls’ body image. Registered clinical member PACFA. Contact Shushann Movsessian on (02) 96654606.
Supervision – Counsellor and Psychotherapist Clinical Member CAPA/Reg. PACFA Helping you help your clients while providing you with the support you need. Crows Nest, Glebe, Macquarie Street Sydney. Contact Jim O’Connor on (02) 9420 0788 or email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org Counselling, Psychotherapy and Supervision For personal and professional development, selfcare and mentoring. Thirteen years’ experience in private practice. PACFA Reg.20566. Location: Mosman. Contact Christine Bennett on 0418 226 961 or email email@example.com Web: www.cb-counselling.com.au and www.caring4couples.com.au
Upcoming dates which may impact your clients and your practice. Visit the websites for information and resources.
Transgender Remembrance Day to memorialise those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred
World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
White Ribbon Day to prevent violence against women in Australia
25 November 10 December
16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence
World AIDS Day
International Day of People with a Disability
International Human Rights Day
International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
International Migrants Day
International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust
World Cancer Day
NOTICEBOARD 38 You don’t want to write an academic paper?? We welcome more informal anecdotes from your practice. Topics could include: • A client who changed my practice (or my life) • The most valuable lesson I learned in the therapy room • Ideas that inform my practice • My most important therapeutic mistake • Some things I wish I knew before becoming a therapist
Check out the PACFA website at
for an update on all the things that are current events
Send your submissions (up to 600 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org
make the most of your ad – Apply for CAPA PD endorsement
Advertising a course, workshop or conference? Increase your potential audience by submitting your event outline for CAPA Professional Development (PD) assessment. If your event meets the criteria, your ad will be highlighted with the CAPA seal of approval, and the number of CAPA PD hours it attracts.
And it will appeal to more CAPA members. To take advantage of this service, email CAPA’s Membership Chair at email@example.com. Assessment fee: $150.00 Submission date: event outlines are due at least two months before the relevant advertising deadline (Please note that submitting your event to this service does not guarantee endorsement)
Advertising rates for The CAPA Quarterly 2011 Advert Size
Dimensions (height x width)
Total Cost Inc. GST $
265mm x 180mm
Half page horizontal
131mm x 180mm
2 column half page square
118mm x 118mm
3 column quarter page horizontal
60mm x 180mm
1 column half page vertical
118mm x 60mm
2 column quarter page horizontal
60mm x 118mm
56mm x 56mm
Advertiser supplies Our printer supplies
Book your ad for a year (4 issues) and receive a 12% discount Booking deadlines
February 2011 issue: 31 December May 2011 issue: 8 April August 2011 issue: 8 July November 2011 issue: 30 September For advertising specifications and bookings, visit http://thecapaquarterly.blogspot.com /p/advertise-with-us.html or contact: (02) 9235 1500 or firstname.lastname@example.org
PRINT POST PP241613/00114
POSTAGE PAID AUSTRALIA
Journal of the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Association of NSW Inc http://thecapaquarterly.blogspot.com ABN 50 035 123 804 If undeliverable, please return to: CAPA NSW Suite 134 / Level 13 183 Macquarie Street SYDNEY NSW 2000 Phone: +61 2 9235 1500 Email: email@example.com Web: www.capa.asn.au Post Print Approved Publications PP241613/00114 Changed your address? Please notify CAPA NSW
L oo k ing for a
To include your free conference listing, contact firstname.lastname@example.org 26 November Sydney
Redbank House Annual Conference ‘Are Mental Health Services Killing Thinking?’
26-28 November Tweed Valley NSW
2nd Annual Regional Gathering Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy ‘Exploring the Spirit of Gestalt Therapy’
30 November – 3 December Newcastle
Strengths and Assets Summit 6th Australian Family and Community Strengths Conference and the 2nd ABCD Asia Pacific Conference
3 December Melbourne
Victorian Tertiary Counsellors Conference ‘Brain, Behaviour, Risk and Resilience’
8-10 December Newcastle
Society for Psychotherapy Research ‘Reclaiming the Individual in Psychotherapy Research’
1-4 March 2011 Melbourne
12th International Society for the Study of Personality Disorders (ISSPD) Congress ‘Personality Disorders: Bridging Research and Practice’
4-5 March 2011 Melbourne
Australian Association of Relationship Counsellors (AARC) Symposium ‘You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me: Love, Desire and Obsession’
10-13 April 2011 Cairns
Australian Health Promotion Assoc. 20th National Conference ‘Health Promotion and Determinants of Health: Strengthening Action’
1-6 May 2011 Perth
Spiritual Care Australia Conference ‘Ethics and Chaplaincy – Unravelling the Myths’
22-25 June 2011 Miami, USA
9th International Conference on Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society ‘Making Connections: Dying, Death and Bereavement in the Global Community’
13-15 July 2011 Salvador, Brazil
10th International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference
12-13 August 2011 Brisbane
Cult Information and Family Support (CIFS) National Conference ‘Assessment, Diagnosis and Treatment’
24-28 August 2011 Sydney
6th World Congress for Psychotherapy ‘World Dreaming’
Published on Oct 1, 2010
Published on Oct 1, 2010
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