23 January 2014 SOMETHING WRONG WITH THERAPY?
One of the things that happens in therapy is that there may be some kind of setback, where things are not going smoothly or pleasantly or excitingly. I once made a study of alchemy, and found that the old alchemists knew of this, and mentioned it specifically as one of the essential moments in the alchemical process – they called it the nigredo, the blackening of the work. At such moments there may be what looks like a mistake, or a disagreement, or a failure, on the part of the therapist. This needs to be understood and properly handled if we want to make the most of the moment. It is by no means the end of the road. It may strengthen the relationship, if it is well handled.
February 4, 2014
Applications are now coming in for the workshop on 29 March. This is a full Masterclass, and incorporates a lot of new material. In particular, people may have done my exercise on Intuition, which is quite revealing, but the new workshop incorporates actual tuition and practice on intuition, to make this more available in everyday practice. Also there will be actual practical work on transcendental empathy, to make that more available in the work. I have been greatly encouraged by reading the new Handbook of Transpersonal Psychology, which has reminded me of the whole range of stuff that has come out in the past 30 years or so, including the feminist approach, the body-oriented material, the new research on hallucinogens (now that this has become possible again), and in general the research advances, many of which I had not heard of. These are exciting times. Remember that my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
January 10, 2014
26 December 2013 DO THERAPISTS NEED THERAPY?
Going back through some old notes and diaries, I discovered that over the years I have seen quite a high proportion of therapists in therapy. Sometimes it has been students on a course, and sometimes it has been well established therapists or coaches who have seen the need for some further work on themselves. Sometimes it has been more like mentoring, where at a certain point therapists have realised that they are on a spiritual path, and have found it all a bit new and confusing. It is lovely to work with these experienced people, because they usually know what they want or need, and throw themselves into getting it as well as possible. There is none of the great uncertainty that makes therapy so slow for most people – necessarily so. I find also a great humility in such people, as if they are always beginners in some way. They are not afraid to go to a new workshop if they think it has something to offer them.
December 26, 2013
A CRISIS CAN BE GOOD?
One of the things which drives people into therapy is a crisis. Sometimes it is losing one’s job; sometimes it is losing a close partner; sometimes it is that one’s child is in trouble with the police; or it may be just the discovery that one is stuck in a rut. That is where therapy can come in, as a place to run to, to somehow sort it all out. But what may happen then is that we discover that we are really on a path of self-discovery – a path which we have been avoiding up to now. That is certainly what happened to me – it was a process of opening up to my feelings, to my issues, to all the stuff I had been avoiding, or even quite ignorant of, up to now.
December 6, 2013
25 November 2013 SUCCESS
The idea of ‘making it’ in life is a subtly attractive one. One of the contestants on ‘the X Factor’ sang a song about it, ‘New York, New York’, which at one point goes – “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere, it’s up to you, New York, New York!” It was a big song, with a big band, and a big voice. Here is a big success, I thought. Later in the evening, that singer was out of the competition.
What is this thing called ‘making it’? I met a young man once who said – “If I haven’t made a million by the time I am 30, I shall have failed!” And if he makes his million, what then? A lot of young men thought they had made it when they got their house or houses, when they got their car or cars, but in 2008 they lost them all, because of a worldwide banking crisis.
Even in calmer times, a man can reach 40 and then find he has forgotten to get married and have children, and finds that he has become someone who does not know how to get that right. He has missed that bus, and left it too long to become a human being. Women, too, can find that being too keen on ‘making it’ has left them childless and unfulfilled.
Perhaps a single-minded search for anything at all can make it hard to be a whole human being. And perhaps being a whole human being is more important than any single-minded search?
November 25, 2013
One of the issues that came up in my relationship was nagging. I hated it, and reacted badly to being nagged about domestic issues, like tidying up the papers and magazines, closing the toilet lid, taking out the rubbish, doing shopping and so forth. But in discussion with other men about this, we arrived at the conclusion that the only person who could stop the nagging was the person being nagged. And the only way to stop it was to do the action which was being nagged about. Invariably these actions were very small things which took up very little time. It was only a kind of devaluation of the other person that made it seem oppressive – a sort of illusion, really.
November 15, 2013
After I discovered anger, I had a bad experience at the doctor’s, where I waited in a waiting room and nobody came for half an hour. I got angry with the receptionist, and then the doctor came in, and I got angry with him. I was quite proud of myself for getting so angry (although in the end it turned out that I had been in the wrong waiting room), but the doctor said – “If you feel like that, you had better find another doctor!” – and that is what happened. Toil and trouble. The new doctor was not as good, and it was a hassle anyway. Remembering bad experiences can be quite educational!
November 8, 2013
For me, therapy is all about discovery. The first feeling I discovered was anger. A woman got very angry with me in a group, and I shrank back into the wall. The group leader asked me if that was what I usually did when someone got angry with me, and I said yes. He then asked if I had any other choices. I hummed and hawed and said I supposed I could get angry back. He nodded, and I tried it. I got so angry that by the time I was finished she was back against the opposite wall. After that we became friendly, and it was a good experience.
November 2, 2013
I was flicking through the channels one evening looking for anything interesting, and came across a film just beginning with Amanda Seyfried in it. As I am a great fan of hers, I stayed with it, and it turned out to be so good that I just stayed and watched the whole thing from beginning to end! She plays the part of a fact-checker for a New York newspaper, engaged to be married to a sexy Italian chef, played by Gael Garcia Bernal, who is very active and energetic, and quite dishy. He comes into some money, and decides to open a restaurant. He proposes that they take a sort of pre-honeymoon in the romantic city of Verona, where he can also take a side trip to attend a wine auction nearby. They have a great time in Verona, and really love it, and he gets busy asking around for the best places to buy wines. She wanders round the streets, and comes across the house reputed to be the very house where Juliet (of Romeo and Juliet fame) used to live, with the famous balcony still intact. Below it is an old wall, where lovelorn girls have taken to pushing letters between the bricks, to Juliet, asking for help with romantic problems. Amanda arrives just at the moment in the evening when the tourists have departed and a woman is going round collecting the letters from the wall and putting them in a basket. She is intrigued by this and follows the woman, who turns out to be one of the Secretaries of Juliet – a group of women who have taken it upon themselves to answer the letters that have a return address on them. Later she returns to the wall, and is idly fingering the bricks when one of them falls out, and reveals an old letter which has never been collected. It is dated 50 years ago, and does have a return address, in England. She takes it to the Secretaries, and it is decided that she herself should write the answer, which she does. A few days later, the writer of the letter turns up with her snotty grandson. By this time Amanda’s husband has lit out for Livorno, chasing wines and truffles. The two women decide they like each other, and that they should try to find Lorenzo Bartolini, the lover the old lady – played beautifully by Vanessa Redgrave – left as a teenager because she was too scared, and too young, to pursue him. Amanda, as a fact checker, knows how to do a search, and Vanessa tells her that Lorenzo (played by Franco Nero) would never leave the area. The unpleasant grandson is elected to be driver, and they proceed with the search, discovering several Lorenzos, but never the right one. During the search, the grandson mellows considerably, softened by the wonderful scenery and the beautiful Amanda. Eventually they give up and return to Verona, but on the way stop off at a vineyard which creates one of their favourite wines. A young man is trimming vines, and Vanessa looks at him and says – “That’s him!” Amanda asks him his name, and he says – “Lorenzo Bartolini”. A middle-aged man comes up, and they ask him his name, and he says – “Lorenzo Bartolini”. After some back and forth, one of them goes off. They wait. Round the corner, on a horse, comes an elderly man, rather handsome, the very man they came to find. Amanda has now gone off her intended, who is obviously more interested in his job than he is in her. The grandson and she fall in love… There is nothing very subtle about this film, but it is beautiful, and it has a good heart, and some really good performances. I loved it.
October 31, 2013
For me, it is all about freedom. I have never been very interested in ‘solving problems’ in therapy. But every time a have a breakthrough in therapy, it seems I have more freedom, and I love that. I remember one of my first experiences, when a group leader said – “Let’s go round and say what you are feeling right now.” I just didn’t know what I was feeling. If that happened now, I could say – “I feel blocked” – but I didn’t even have that vocabulary then. As time went by, I discovered one feeling after another. All human beings have feelings, even those who don’t want them.
October 26, 2013