Welcome to Contemporary Psychotherapy Spring 2011. These days I often find myself pondering James Hillman’s call for a psychotherapy that goes beyond the confines of the consulting room, one that affects the world. In We’ve had a 100 Years of Psychotherapy and the World’s Getting Worse, Hillman and co-author Michael Ventura discuss frankly the missed opportunities and failures of psychotherapy. Though published nearly 20 years ago, I think this warning has lost none of its relevance as we witness the struggles for freedom in North Africa and the Middle East, where scores of people have died in clashes with ruthless police and military forces serving selfish and corrupt ruling clans. This is true too in the face of the devastation in Japan which was caused by a tsunami hitting a nuclear plant that was built with ultimately inadequate security provisions. It is equally true of the financial crises in the UK, the rest of Europe and the US, that are cannibalising thousands of jobs.
What role psychotherapy can play in dealing with such events is something the profession still needs to work out. For starters I think that, as psychotherapists, we ought to name things – even difficult things – and our clients ought to do the same, with our help. This is why Kate Mehuron’s article on Philosophical Counselling provides rich stimulation as she adds a completely new dimension to working with clients by drawing from philosophical concepts. Lorraine Quinn’s contribution on the other hand explores working in different languages with the help of interpreters; this is certainly a challenge because it can take the therapist far beyond the confines of his or her culture and thus raise issues that they may take for granted. Death is the topic explored in Backward Shadow by Tamar Posner, who reflects on what can be overlooked about the experience of loosing a sibling. In this issue we also include the perspective of a client: Geert Kliphuis writes about the ways he uses to cope with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. As usual, you will also find book and film reviews as well as a selection of Things to Look Out For.
Image: Post-modern Garden of Eden by Andy Bernay-Roman