Welcome to Contemporary Psychotherapy. With the professional community of psychotherapists and counsellors in mind, Contemporary Psychotherapy aims to be progressive, inquiring and creative, to encourage interactive debate with its international readership and to address rather than avoid the possibly contentious.
All change: the impact of restructuring, redundancy and change in the workplace: Fiona Dunkley & Felicity Runchman
An argument in favour of face-to-face therapy over telephone treatment: Beth Glanville
Reclaiming menopause from the medics: Paula Maddison
Text, transition and transference: text-based online counselling for young people: Felicity Runchman
A new year, a new decade, and another new issue of Contemporary Psychotherapy.
Included on every page of this issue is a link to a short survey which we would love for you to complete. Currently the communication is relatively one-way via this page, and we want to try and make our contact with our readers more relational. As things stand we are trying to re-position ourselves in a post-modern world, but we need more contributors, and we need to understand you and what you want. Without this feedback we cannot know how any non-editorial board feel about what we do.
We want to thank Anita Gaspar for her time and commitment on the Board as she steps back to give space to her other pursuits. As with everybody involved in Contemporary Psychotherapy, Anita gave her time for free to try and progress the profession in an accessible, fun and contemporary way. We are actively recruiting for new board members both around commissioning and editorial work as well as social media and publicity. Please do get in touch if you think this could be of interest to you, irrespective of your position in the therapy world.
And so, to this edition! We have inadvertently compiled a mini-theme of reviews and articles challenging medical models of thinking, with Jane Edwards providing a very personal and embodied review of “On Edge”, a King’s College London exhibition around anxiety and society. As she notes, while there is ‘progress’ away from the old order of medicalised diagnosis, and other absolute ways of the world being viewed, it can be hugely destabilising. Simon Rudd reviews an exhibition that examines the medical model in “Misbehaving Bodies”, hosted by the Wellcome Collection. Simon describes wonderfully dialogues that occur during the exhibition, and how they move beyond what we as therapists offer, and into death. Ultimately this work is about memories, love and death; themes which permeate both the therapy room and all of our lives, regardless of whether we want them to or not. Meanwhile the destabilisation referred to in “On Edge” is echoed in Paula Maddison’s article about menopause, where she reflects on the lack of challenge to the medical dominated view of the alteration for women. Paula brings in the Western stereotyped view on women aging and suggests that the menopause is a highly complex experience that is not limited to physical changes, and that as a profession, psychotherapy should do more to acknowledge and work with this. Within her review of the ballet Giselle, Lynda Woodroffe finds echoes of the thrust of the article about menopause, that of female oppression. The intersectionality between social class, gender and emotional expression are all examined and brought back to a view of both society and therapy, which is sadly still too present in 2020.
In a very different context, Fiona Dunkley and Felicity Runchman reflect on change, particularly regarding restructuring and redundancy, in a business setting, and what can be learned and applied to businesses from a psychotherapeutic standpoint. The experiences examined are also applicable to clients who are going through these normal business processes, and can help frame the environment for those of us who sit outside of businesses, as much as for those of us who are materially and contractually involved.
The seemingly perpetual theme of cutbacks and re-ordering is echoed as Beth Glanville (ed.) presents an article that argues, persuasively, that telephone counselling cannot replace face-to-face work, specifically with those who’ve experienced significant trauma. Given the recent political clamour around health funding, this perspective is a timely provocation to suggest that we need to think whether offering equal access can actually diminish the equality of therapeutic offering, and whether as practitioners we have a responsibility to push back on technological ‘advances’. Set against this by way of provocative balance is Felicity Runchman’s article “Text, transition and transference: the potential and the challenges of text-based online counselling for young people” in which she explores her experience of working in a text based way, not as an alternative to more traditional methods, but as a potential to reach people who may not be inclined to therapy in its mainstream way of being.
Finally, Ben Scanlan (ed.) reviews the book Why don’t psychotherapists laugh? Enjoyment and the consulting room, which examines the role and potential of enjoyment in therapy for both client and therapist. Perhaps providing something of an antidote to the change that “On Edge” points to, the author Ann Shearer examines why enjoyment and humour are not seen as a part of the therapeutic relationship in a number of modalities.
We end this with a plea – as you will have read, between us we have both contributed articles to this issue, and we would welcome a broader range of voices. Perhaps this is a ripple effect as alluded to in the review of “On Edge”, as therapists are in the world as much as anybody, and the traditional idea of publishing to ‘get a name’ is no longer borne out in practice. Also we are often left with ripples from society more generally, and putting our own words and opinions out there can feel like a step too far. As a team we want to try and support our contributors, so please do get in touch and we can help mitigate some of this, and provide some support through a process which can be daunting.
Beth Glanville & Ben Scanlan
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