Welcome to Contemporary Psychotherapy’s Winter 2019 issue,
As we move into 2019, we find ourselves in unsettled, and unsettling, times, as the UK grapples with confusion and chaos about the way forward with Brexit. The troubled, stuck, yet ever-shifting political context has got me thinking about how these broader dynamics enter the therapy room, and how much our work as therapists may involve holding space for, and helping our clients to live with, uncertainty and forces beyond our control.
I see these issues woven into many of the topics discussed by our authors, as they engage with different, sometimes conflicting, perspectives on how emotional distress may be understood and worked with. Arwa Hussein questions the biomedical model of depression, exploring an existential approach as an alternative way of supporting recovery, and Lynds O’Connor offers her perspective on the challenges of evaluating different ways of working with trauma, and reflects on her personal experience with a client affected by childhood trauma. Meanwhile, Lynda Woodroffe reviews the work of the artist Paula Rego, looking at themes of depression, trauma and political oppression through the lens of creative art, with a particular focus on Rego’s portrayal of mothers.
There has been an ongoing thread of debate in Contemporary Psychotherapy around the topic of psychotherapy research, with David Gladwell asking ‘Do Ethics Committees facilitate research?’ and Werner Kierski arguing that our profession may be under threat due to a lack of research into the emotional experiences of our clients. Peter Jenkins takes up the theme in this issue, exploring how psychotherapy research activity is controlled, and examining perceived risks and obstacles that block direct, qualitative research with clients. This is a weighty topic and the discussion will continue in our next issue with a focus on specific examples.
The theme of trauma also features in our reviews, as we hear from Errol B. Dinnall about Babette Rothschild’s The Body Remembers: Volume 2: Revolutionising Trauma Treatment, and from Ben Scanlan about Fiona Dunkley’s book on psychosocial support for humanitarian aid workers, who are so often exposed to trauma on an individual, and indeed organisational, level, but with limited recourse to support. Meanwhile, Tamar Posner reviews a guide to counselling and psychotherapy for older people in care—such an important issue given our ageing population—and Ben Gatty discusses two books on the fascinating topic of sleep which, as he notes, can so often be both a cause and a consequence of mental health difficulties. One discusses a CBT-based approach to reducing insomnia, while the other explores the role and importance of sleep; something that feels rather pertinent in this season of hibernation.
Contemporary Psychotherapy has also been going through a time of change, and in 2019 we will be looking to recruit new team members with a particular focus on editorial, digital, publicity and design skills. We would love to hear from any of our readers who might be interested, so please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out more.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our international community of readers for following Contemporary Psychotherapy, and to remind you that we are always keen to receive new ideas for articles and reviews. So, if you would be interested in contributing this year, please see the submission guide for authors on our website and get in touch.
Sending you our best wishes for 2019
Image: The Lions Roar by Peter Tandlund