Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Connection or Contact?

When I started as a psychotherapist, long before mobile phones or email, it was easier to maintain a therapeutic relationship than it is now. I don't think my skill in managing the relationship has declined; it has to be that something else has changed. Technology has provided us with many more means of almost instant contact, mobiles, texts, tweets, Facebook and instant messaging, apps on your phone to find out  who is nearby...But contact is often momentary and to exchange small amounts of relatively superficial information. 

The requirement  of constancy and the perseverance that is needed to create a deep therapeutic relationship is so counter-cultural to the notion that the customer is king and gratification should be immediate or you should move on. Much of my practice is in Central London where this may be worse. Many people are just moving through or working in the media industry where they may have to change projects or go abroad or work late at a moment's notice.

My parents were born not long after the First world war and stability was desired after the turmoil, I was born not that long after the Second with probably a similar cultural need. Families often still had the static (even stiffling) structure that patriarchy provided so well. Now families and living arrangements are often re-formed in childhood, things are more fluid. Duty and commitment have given way to  "taking the waiting out of wanting" as one credit card advert put it; "Do it Now!" was a slogan of the late 60's. Things, rather than feeling rigid or monolithic now often feel rather fragile and temporary; including relationships. 

In conventional therapy terms we are talking about attachment and what can turn contact to connection to enduring relationship. Early good attachment in the first few years requires an adequately attuned and empathic caregiver with enough support and protection.  Sadly today many did not grow up with that and their sense of self and their attachment styles are more fluid, and sometimes chaotic. Their unconscious fears easily support the cultural permissions to make distance, move on, go shopping, and become too busy. I read recently that some American college students were seeking help from consultants in how to date. They were able to do the "hookup" for sex or to just "hang out together" arranged  through all the electronic media but what they couldn't do was create or deepen relationship. One of the reasons for this is the prevalence of shame as a core experience. The hallmark of shame is a wish to hide. The best way of hiding is to simply disappear from the relationship.There may be a positive side to this but it makes the job of psychotherapy much more difficult because I still have not found a substitute for a solid, continuing therapeutic relationship for real growth and healing.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Ten Fundamental Principles of Psychotherapy

1. Psychotherapy comes from Psyche means “Soul” and Therapia means “to attend to” so psychotherapy is attending to the Soul for the purpose of healing.

2. The means of doing this is the application of Love, through relationship. Psychotherapy involves a conscious, boundaried professional relationship for applying love for the purposes of healing.

3. The healing and love are anchored into, and work through, the body which the seat of the Soul in this lifetime.

4. The form psychotherapy takes is many methods for the liberation of love and energy in the body, mind and spirit through the removal of blocks to the free flow of life, love and energy. "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."     Rumi 

5. These blocks can be dissolved through love and consciousness and increasing the energy flow of the body whilst being safely held in relationship and being witnessed. Tantra is the ancient science of using practices to bring energy and consciousness together to realise our Oneness to all.

6. At the deepest level this reconnects all to the Divine, healing the Soul and connecting to Spirit.  "Energy is of the Body,.. energy is eternal Delight."   William Blake

7. This is usually best accomplished by working from the foundations of the body and the places where trauma and blocks to the free flow of energy are principally held and love and consciousness, most absent.

8. This generally means the lower abdomen and the belly from the pelvic floor upwards. These foundational areas are damaged most by childhood trauma and in most cultures have been denied, distorted, invaded and shamed; particularly for women.

9. Attention and often touch support consciousness coming in to an area or an issue. Breathing, movement, sound, affirmation, support and loving strokes encourage the flow of energy into that area.

10. The form that life energy takes has to include sexual energy. To avoid working with sexual energy is to subtly maintain denial and shame and so to refuse to clear trauma and blocks. Basically Freud was right about this and psychotherapy has been retreating from his insight for a hundred years now.

Tantric Psychotherapy is the name I have given to the bringing of all the methods of tantra to the task of healing the Soul, through the body and mind and reconnecting to Spirit. See .