The other day I worked with a client who, after some 18 months of therapy is still repeating many habitual, yet painful patterns. I tried to draw attention to the vulnerable part within, a part that mostly remains hidden behind rigid coping patterns. My attempts to draw my client’s attention to underlying emotional needs have in the past often been defended by the part that knows how to cope but not how to apply self-care.
In supervision, my supervisor and I re-enacted that session: I was the client and my supervisor led me through a visualisation in order to connect with the feelings of the client’s vulnerable part. Unsurprisingly I found myself resisting his approach, as I experienced it as imposing and dominating. Afterwards I struggled to feel confident about my work as a therapist; I feared my client was not moving forward and my supervisor had challenged me because I was not a good enough therapist. Later, upon reflection, I started to see that my discomfort with my supervisor’s approach and my own lack of confidence reflected a parallel process triggered by my client’s feelings.
The reason for telling you this is because most of the articles in the current issue of Contemporary Psychotherapy similarly deal with complex therapeutic issues. Seattle-based Brent Potter presents an intimate account of working with a client whose early life experiences of severe emotional deprivation have fostered a high degree of resistance. Barry Smale on the other hand explores how the framework of Alcoholics Anonymous can be used in the challenging field of addiction therapy. Iulius-Cezar Macarie and Ron Roberts introduce an innovative approach to working with complex cases, drawing on Eastern systems of martial arts, and Anne Atkinson, in her article about abortion, raises the question of whether this experience is adequately addressed in therapy. These articles are complemented by William Braud’s challenge to existing perceptions about psychotherapy research. He argues for the inclusion of ways of “being truly human.” I would speculate that acknowledging one’s own depth of emotions might indeed be very informative when researching complex client issues.
Contemporary Psychotherapy is continuing to grow: readers discuss us in several blogs, which is great, and we are constantly thinking about how to develop further. We have therefore created a Look Out For … page which offers links to potentially interesting films and videos and we are considering opening our content to peer review in order to attract more contributions from researchers and doctoral candidates. We invite readers interested in joining our peer review panel to contact us, giving details of their areas of expertise. We hope you enjoy this issue.
Dr. Werner Kierski